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PARIS (AP) — A French court rejected a demand Friday to close 72 eateries and shops in the makeshift migrant camp in the northern port city of Calais, but the prefecture said it will continue legal action against what it calls a dangerous underground economy.
The Lille court turned down the demand of the Prefecture of the Pas de Calais region, the state representative, to permanently close the operations which humanitarian organizations contend are a lifeline for the estimated more than 7,000 migrants in the camp, commonly known as "the Jungle."
A statement by the prefecture said the installations don't respect sanitation rules, risk fires and are a source of public disorder.
"Administrative inspections of the underground commerce and judicial actions will be continued," it said.
Later, the prefect for Calais, Vincent Berton, announced that the state was lodging an appeal against the court decision.
Thousands of free meals are legally handed out daily to migrants by a state-backed association at the camp and others. However, humanitarian organizations contend that this is not enough food for the growing number of migrants in the camp, and migrants can stand in line for hours for a meal.
The prefecture sent inspectors into the camp in July to check shops and restaurants, including hairdressers, seizing and destroying numerous products and detaining 19 people.
Shops and restaurants were then ordered closed — though some reopen quietly at nightfall.
Maya Konforti of Auberge des Migrants, or Migrants Shelter, a mainstay aid association for migrants, said the court decision allows aid groups and migrants to buy time.
"We're going to see ... how we can improve things," she said by telephone. But, she added that "a restaurant in the jungle will never be legal." The court action, she said, is "sheer harassment."
The prefecture razed the southern half of the Calais camp in July, after a court gave the green light — but barred the destruction of houses of worship and schools.
Most migrants in Calais, from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa, travel to northern France to try to sneak across the English Channel to Britain.
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