Covid-19 and migration

People on the move and with precarious immigration status are amongst those ‘left behind’ in the worst possible way. Over fears of the coronavirus , borders are closing.

It is in the nature of the pandemic that unless we are all safe, nobody is safe. Political, economic, social and racial inequalities play a major part in helping the virus spreading. Where can the homeless self-isolate? Why are 20.000 US troops allowed to land in Europe right in the middle of the epidemic? Why is Trump imposing new sanctions on Iran, instead of lifting existing sanctions that are crippling the country’s ability to respond to the virus? How is the African continent going to cope with the virus when it lacks the necessary resources, having been under-developed by the colonial and imperialist powers? How many people are dying and how many will die unecessarely? And how can the world at large ever recover, unless we all help each other, and inequalities are levelled?

In the Mediterranean all NGOs rescue ships have stopped operations over coronavirus fears, or are docked while their crews are quarantined: there are NO rescue ships left in the Mediterranean. Alarmphone continue their life saving work: they have reported 400 people were illegally pushed back from Malta to Libya last week end. Conditions in the concentration camps in Libya have been exposed by many, lastly by the small and very militant Italian association MEDU– Medici per i diritti umani (Doctors for Human Rights) who interviewed 3000 survivors from sub-Saharian Africa: 85% report being tortured. Most lament lack of food and water, extreme overcrowding, very unhygienic conditions, lack of medical care and the threat of violence. If the coronavirus arrive in the camps in Libya what is going to happen? 1.300.000 people in Libya are in need of urgent help according to the UNHCR, also due to raging civil war. Transfers of refugees through resettlement programs have been blocked. The concentration camps in Libya are also a result of the externalization of borders and are financed by Italy and by Europe, who have outsourced rescues to the so-called Libyan coast guard, with mission to bring people back to hell, if they do not let them drown. Good news has it that some people escape, and continue to arrive. Last weekend 150 people landed autonomously in Lampedusa, South of Sicily, followed by another 85 a couple days later. So far there are no registered cases of covid19 amongst those who arrived in Italy on boats, and they all get screened. Instead, the danger for them is huge: Italy is the country in Europe that is harderst hit by the pandemic. Accommodation centres for asylum seekers and other immigrants are overcrowded and understaffed, many end up in the streets or live in squalid shanty towns next to the fields where they work, at 2 euros per hour.

The closure of the internal and external borders of Europe over fears of the virus means that more people than ever are left stranded, usually in appalling conditions. The danger the pandemic poses to the people in large refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon cannot be estimated. in Lebanon for istance there are some 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Camps are overcrowed, people often undernourished, lacking the most basic resources. However the worst camps are in Northern Syria, where civilans fleeing Assad and Putin’s bombs are stranded without the bare essentials; over 30 children died of cold. Several thousands refugees from Syria but also Afghans and Kurds massed on the Greek-Turkish border when Erdogan opened the border as a political blackmail to Europe; there they clashed with Greek police, and one refugee was shot dead. After Erdogan closed the border again most have gone back to Turkey, bar some 5000 who are still camping on the border, in the desperate hope to pass to Europe.

The Greek islands are a timebomb waiting to explode. Instead of letting people off the islands, as Medicins Sans Frontieres amongst others demanded, the Greek right wing government have ordered that all camps are transformed in closed camps to detain people. Even the transfer of 5000 unaccompanied minors to various EU countries is now suspended.

Since the criminal EU – Turkey accords 4 years ago, people are not allowed to leave the islands until their asylum applications are dealt with: the islands have became open air prisons. Approximately 39,000 live in and around the camps on the island Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, according to government estimates. The total official capacity of those camps put together is approximately 7,500 people. A six years old girl has recently died in a fire in the Moria camp, many others got injured, as there is no safe distance between the very flammable tents, provided by the UNHCR – yet the EU gave Greece huge sums of money, to cope with the ‘refugee crisis’ the EU created. People in Moira do not even have sufficient access to drinking water, they cannot even wash their hands or keep their children clean. If the virus arrives in the camps it will be a disaster. There has not been any cases of coronavirus in the camps yet but one case registered in Lesvos. Nearly 500 newly arrived including women and children have been detained on a ship, in inhumane conditions, while the right to asylum has been suspended in Greece. Vital humanitarian aid arrives to the refugees through independent volunteers, supplying for the institutional neglect by the government, UNHCR and big NGOs. However associations in Greece and in the Balkans are asking new volunteers not to come, over fears they could be spreading the virus, and essential services are being cut down as a result.

On the Balkan route the authorites have ordered that every human being in irregular situation is detained in close camps, supposedly to contain the epidemic. Existing IOM-run camps, where until now people could come and go, are becoming close facilities; new camps are being improvised and people sleeping out or in squats are being rounded up by police and taken to these camps. Camps are hotbeds for disease of all sorts, since overcrowding is severe,sanitation insufficient, and medical care next to non existent. Scabies and TB are rife. Despite the closure of borders people continue to arrive in Trieste, the last stop of the Balkan route and the first city on Italian soil. Volunteers of the small and very militant association Linea d’ombra have obtained permission to welcome and assist them, despite the self – isolation imposed on all Italians by the government. However they do not have the resources: many essential services have been suspended, and people are left hungry and homeless who are already proven by two weeks of walking through the woods, under the threat of landmines left over from the war and by the very violent Croatian police and fascist militias. Homeless Italians often compete with the refugees for the attention of the volunteers, and their meagre resources. They too have been hardly hit by the withdrawal of essential services. UPDATE: local authrities have finally bowed to pressure, and will open a new accommodation centre for all in need.

One exception to the general closure of borders in Europe is the maritime border of the UK with France, were business continues as usual and P&O and DSDF continue to run their ferriers up and down, blissfully oblivious of dangers of contagion. The racist and fascistic mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart has just been re-elected for the third time, and immediately she has appealed to the higher authorities to lock up all migrants in two disused air bases, in the name of public safety; this while the local hospital sadly is filling up with Calais people hit by the virus, and not because of the migrants, who so far seem to have been hit little by the covid19 but one man in the Dunkirk area is said to have died. Police meanwhile are keeping busy with daily destructions of informal migrant camps, scattering tents and people’s belonging around and so helping the spread of the virus. Allegedly police have also been taking people from Dunkirk and dumping them in Calais jungle. Between the Calais and Dunkirk areas some 2000 people survive – the number is indicative and a real count even approximate is impossible in such conditions; plus there are migrants all over the coast: Cherbourg, Dieppe, St Malo… while others try via Eurostar from Brussels and Paris. In Paris living conditions are pretty desperate and evictions without solutions are still the norm, exactly like in Calais. Despite the risk of epidemic,

cruel and obtuse policies and the persecution of migrants by State agents continue unabated.

Explosive situation in the French detention centres, shaken by protests and hunger strikes after visits and legal surgeries were suspended. The detainees are demanding an end to deportations and freedom for all. One centre had to close down. After the uprisings in the Italian prisons, it is

the biggest wawe of protests hitting close institutions in Europe.

Wave of protests also in the detention centres in Belgium.

In the UK there have been call outs to stop immigration detention, free the detainees, halt all deportations and end the hostile environment. One good result is that the obligation to report for asylum seekers and others with insecure immigration status has been temporarily suspended. All reporting centres are closed until further notice. However people still have to travel to Liverpool to hand their claims in. This need to stop, and people need to be able to access the internet for their appointments. People in NASS accommodation are often in situations where they cannot self-isolate, for instance they have to share kitchen and bathroom. Those with no recours to public funding are left homeless and destitute. The hostile environment makes people without papers fearful to access the NHS or other services, for fear of being reported to the Home Office. Many undocumented workers live in overcrowded substandard accommodation. They cannot stop working because they get no sick pay, nor can they access benefits. Their lack of status is a weapon in the hands of their employers, people cannot complain about bad working conditions and low pay, often just £ 2 per hour, for fear of being detained and deported.

Detention centres, hotspots and camps are hotbeds for disease, and need to close immediately to prevent the spreading of the virus. All deportations must stop. Everybody must be given adequate accommodation where they can self-isolate, unconditionally and regardless of their immigration status. Everybody has to be able to eat well, keep warm and accesss medical care. People who escape war and other life threatening events such as famine and climate disasters must be able to travel safely. Basic freedom of movement for everybody must be mantained, and safeguards put in place with the necessary tests and periods of isolation. All unnecessary travel must be discouraged. All unnecessary production must stop. All unnecessary movements of merchandise must stop.

News from the borders. Calais and Dunkirk

Calais jungle is not “finished”, it has spread far and wide. There are several hundreds people in the Calais and Dunkirk areas. Further, there are people all over the coast, trying to reach the UK from the small Belgian port of Zeebrugge, from Dieppe, Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo, Roscroff up to Bilbao in the Basque Country. Thousands more are in Brussels and other big cities, and especially in Paris, that is the largest area where people are accumulating, surviving in dreadful conditions, sleeping on the pavement, men, women and children, facing police violence, petty crime and hard drugs. People are all trying to settle somewhere and rebuild their lives, defying the border regime with their own bodies. And they are many thousands. In many places citizens have mobilized and are sheltering migrant people in their own homes – Brussels is a shining example.

To cross the border has became exceedingly difficult for those who have no money to pay smugglers and prices have gone up, 2000 euros, 3000, even 5000 for a “guarantee”. In 2016 the UK built a border fence in Calais several miles long, and reinforced border controls on French soil. Africans are the most penalized as they have little or no money. People still manage to hide in the back of lorries, but are usually sniffed out by border dogs. Why people who pay smugglers manage to go past controls is an open question. In many cases, people are arrested by police before arriving to the border checks.

“ After the took me from the lorry, the police handcuffed me with my hands behind my back, then they beat me all over my body” reports a young African. Others complain being pepper-sprayed, insulted, including racist insults, being abandoned in the middle of nowhere, having their shoes taken away. There have been at least three death at the border last month.

TWO MORE DEATHS. An Iranian woman is missing from a boat that was rescued large of the UK coast on the 9th September

An unknown person has gone missing after being spotted floating in the Channel

Some are lucky and make it, which gives hope to the others. A young Afghan, who says he is 16 but looks much younger, crossed shortly after he arrived in Calais, after spending one year in the Balkans. He went all by himself, as he had arrived.

Since going by lorry has became so difficult many are risking their lives on boats, which prompted a series of high profile interventions by the UK higher authorities and a lot of media blablabla, notwisthanding the majority of irregular migrants to the UK arrive by plane, not by lorry or by boat. Other than the boats “scandal” there is very little about Calais – the media circus has moved elsewhere.

The gym in Grande Synthe, near Dunkirk

Dunkirk holds up to 1300 people in transit, according to some estimate. Most are accommodated in or around a very big gymnasium, that is now under eviction. The mayor of Grande Synthe near Dunkirk, Damien Careme, who is pro-migrants, managed to have the gym opened during the winter, and to keep it open until now against the will of the French government, but now all legal challenges have been lost and the gym will close this month, any time now. In the gym people are warehoused in miserable conditions, sleeping on the floor without any privacy. Many sleep outside in tents because inside there is no room. Diahorrea and scabies are rife. However horrible, it is a place other than the jungle and where people are allowed stay, without being chased by police. Most people are Kurds from Iraq, but there are also Iraqi Arabs and Iranians, and very few Afghans. Most people are very friendly and welcoming. There are 60 families they tell me, and lots of young children are running about. In this area a large group of families are camping together, they look after each other and can protect their children. Things will change for the worst when the gym closes and people will be dispersed. It is raining and the ground on which the tents are pitched has turned into a sea of mud. I speak to one of the women, in broken French. She and her husband invite me to their tent, somehow they manage to keep the inside very clean. They are very nice people. They offer me food. Their nine years old son steps in and starts translating, he speaks quite good English. He is small for his age and very intelligent, too intelligent for his age, with big eyes that seem to see everything. They are from Iraqui Kurdistan and have been in France for 10 months, sometimes in the jungle, meaning this camp, sometimes in temporary accommodation. They are determined to go to the UK. The younger son is sleeping in the tent. The mother tells me he is sick, and that she is pregnant with another baby. On my next visit the mother has just come back from the hospital, where she has left her sick child, who is being treated for severe epilepsy. She looks very tired.

What strikes me most, coming from Calais, is that in Grande Synthe the migrants are in the town, move about freely and people are not afraid of them. It is a very multi-ethnic area, with a strong Muslim presence and a pro-migrants administration. Public transport is excellent, and free 7/7, allowing poor people to move about. It is raining and people crowd under the bus shelters, old ladies with shopping bags, school kids, Muslim women wearing headscarves, Black immigrants, local alcoholics, Kurdish refugees, young mothers with babies and prams. Nobody seems afraid or suspicious of others. How different from Calais!

In Calais the racist adminsitration is headed by the mayor Natacha Bouchart, who got elected twice by pandering to the far right. People with no documents have been chased out of sight and can no longer go to town without fear of being arrested or beaten up by police. Segregation in the jungles is complete. Living conditions are miserable, and police harassment a daily occurrence. The only respite is a day centre open by Secours Catholique (Caritas France) that is attended mainly by Africans and a few Iranians, Afghans do not go there. It is very well ran but some essential services and especially legal support have been cut, on order by the head of Secours Catholique in Paris.

How many people on the move are in Calais? To make a count even approximate is totally impossible. There are 5 informal and “illegal” camps, two of which are quite large, one of which is very large. People have fought to resettle here after the eviction of the big jungle in 2016, braving daily police violence such as being pepper sprayied in their sleep. Number of main meals distributed during the month of June is 735 per day on average, but not everybody eats at the same distribution – some are not there in that moment, some have money to buy food, some eat at a different distribution. Therefore, in June there were well over 735 people. Numbers fluctuate and tend to go down after large scale evictions, then up again. Nearly nobody stays in Calais all the time, people move from place to place looking for a chance, or to take a break. They go to Dunkirk, Paris, Caen, Hazebrouk, and they come back. Total number of people in Calais may be way over 1000 if counting all those who are coming and going. The Prefect (head of police for the region) however is saying that numbers have gone down to 300 but it is a lie. There are well over 300 people in the largest camp alone.The police have an old habit of giving numbers way below the real numbers, so to hide the true scale of the migrants’ presence in Calais. François Guennoc, vice president and spokeperson for the association Auberge des migrants, lately is giving numbers similar to those of the police, and the press is repeating them, even Liberation in France. Calais Migrant Solidarity activists, who usually give very correct information, have given similar numbers to Corporate Watch.

The 11th July all three main camps were evicted, afterwards everybody went back to where they were. Previously the largest camp had been evicted twice. First the people had to move from rue Verrotieres, and relocated two streets up, near the food distribution place. Later they were evicted again, most people went back but some area was permanenlty cleared. They are now facing another eviction, requested by the owner of the land on which they have resettled. The Legal Shelter (Cabane Juridique) are preparing a case against the eviction. This is the international camp, hosting people of all nationalities, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, people from other African countries, Afghans, many Iranians, some Kurds especially from Iran, and others. The camp near the hospital is all Afghans, as well as the smaller camp in Transmarck. The camp near the stadium is all Eritreans. On top of real evictions there are “cleaning operations” ever 48 hours. People are forced to move at 8.30 in the morning, lots of police (gendarmerie aided by CRS) close the area, kick out independent witnesses, search the woods and kick out everybody who has not moved already– most people move on the road with their tents before the police arrive. Council cleaners collect some rubbish, some tents are confiscated, a few people are arrested, the police leave in about one hour, and everybody goes to breakfast. At least this is what happens in the biggest jungle. Near the hospital, where tents are hidden in the bush, police often do not bother because it would be too much work. These “cleanings” are most ineffective, there are rats everywhere. They are done only to harass people and keep them moving.

Most people in the Calais jungles are males, including many unaccompanied minors, most from Afghanistan and Eritrea, some very young.

“When I arrived I was a minor, now I have just turned 18. I have been here 17 months. They arrested me many times, why? I do not drink, I do not smoke, I do not make any trouble. I do not like to stay in the jungle and I do not like to stay in France, the police have no respect. All I want is to go to England, work, have a good life and send some money to my family in Afghanistan. England is a good country, but it is so difficult to get there”!

There are very few women and small children, nearly all from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Most are sheltered by volunteers and local people, but sometimes there are women and children sleeping in the jungle. They want to stay there to try go to England, or they have just arrived and do not know there are women’s services and the possibility of accommodation.

People are quite friendly, and increadibly cheerful. Sure they are determined not to let things get them down! Calais is a place of hope, they are all here for a better, a possible future and hope keeps them going. Some people have been here for two years or more.

Some people are newly arrived. Some are returning after being in other EU countries, or back home in Afghanistan. Many applied for asylum in France and were refused, and are now trying to go to England. Some applied for asylum in Belgium, Germany, Norway, other countries, and were refused. The new Loi Asile Immigration 2018 represents a turn for the worst on the subject of asylum and refugees rights. Since the beginning of 2019 time in detention had been doubled to 90 days, creating an explosive situation in the now overcrowded detention centres. There have been a series of protests and hunger strikes. In Paris the Gilets noirs, a new Sans Papiers movement, occupied the main airport to protest deporations.

“I am from Sudan, from Darfur. I am an air pilot. I had to flee my country to save my life. When I arrived in France I liked it, and decided to stay here. My asylum claim was refused, and the appeal refused. I was detained 5 times and they wanted to deport me back to Sudan. If they send me back to Sudan I will be killed. I was released, also thanks to people campaigning for me. I spent 4 years living in the streets, but what can I do? I cannot go back to my country because if I go back I die, and I want to live. I am trying to go to England now. I hope one day I can fly airplanes again”. He speaks in a mild, matter-of-fact way, as if what is happening to him was normal. He is a lovely, intelligent man. There are other Sudanese men in detention in Coquelles, near Calais. One man was sent back to Sudan and disappeared, neither his family or his friends have heard from him. Others were released thanks to legal support and campaigning efforts. There are Afghans being sent back to Afghanistan, also as a result of the hardening of French immigration policies. Lately an Eritrean was deported and others are threatened with deportation. Plus there are lots of Dublin deportatons, especially to Italy. Calais Migrant Solidarity activists are doing good work supporting people in the local detention centre of Coquelles, and raising the alarm,

Demonstration “the march of the forgotten”, police took revenge by going to the jungle afterwards beating people up

This year there have been a series of demonstrations in Calais to demand dignity and rights for the people in the jungles, an end to deportations, an end to the Dublin system, stop police violence and an open border. They have been organized by a collective called Appel d’air, including refugees, activists and volunteers. After the last, very peaceful protest, the police went to the jungle and beat up everybody they could find, in revenge. Refugees say the associations did not complain about this unprovoked attack, and in general are failing to defend them.

“We do not need food, blankets or clothes. We need to be given our rights”!

My personal thoughts is that the associations in Calais have always failed to defend people’s rights. They always had double loyalties towards the people they are supposed to be helping and towards the institutions on which ultimately they depend. In Calais we do not have a humanitarian crisis, what we see is the result of politics and the UK and French governments are creating this situation. The problem is the border. Justice renders charity 100% useless.

Nearly 10 years have passed since the first wholesale evictions of Calais jungle, in September 2009. There were several self organized camps and squats, the French State tried to demolish them all, but immediately they formed again. In June 2009 there was a No Border camp in Calais, and Calais Migrant Solidarity was formed by activists present at the camp. No Borders activists have mantained a continuos presence in Calais even since, offering solidarity not charity and working with refugees and other migrants on an equalitarian basis, instead than an up-down relationship.

In 2016 we were overcame by volunteers and startups, who swamped Calais without understanding the politics and without listening to anyone but to themselves. The Auberge des migrants, that was the smallest association in Calais, became the biggest thanks to Help Refugees. Most associations including the Info bus, the Refugee Youth Service and the Refugee Community Kitchen are based with the Auberge. To me this is a problem. The Auberge / Help Refugees did a great job collecting and distributing humanitarian aid. However they also co-opted the large solidarity movement that had sprang out after the death of little Aylan Kurdi in a direction convenient to the State. They helped building the big jungle-ghetto, and keeping people there. When migrants organized demonstrations supported by No Borders activists, demanding an end to racist segregation in the jungle, a house for all, open the border and an end to police violence, the associations were not interested. They organized a large but pointless demonstration of their own, with no demands, and they did not even consult with the migrants in struggle, who were very disappointed. The charites- led demonstration went to the ferry port, on which entrance a fake wall had been erected for people to write on so to vent their frustration – without going inside the ferry port, that could have caused some disruption. Nobody took notice, except for a little article in the local paper. The migrant-led demonstrations had gone to the city centre, rendering the issue visible, and to the Town Hall, even the mayor Natacha Bouchart went and meet them on one occasion.

The warehouse from where the Auberge operate, and where most other associations are based, had and still has a policy not to allow anyone without papers inside. In the warehouse, same racist segregation like everywhere else in Calais.The justification given is that the police threatened to close the warehouse if they found undocumented people there. Undocumented people however had been helping with the charities in the past, and nothing was shut down. The Auberge have always been very prone to obey the authrities, and perhps the pressure may have been higher this time. Further, the Auberge and their partner Help Refugees (now renamed Choose Love) obliged all their volunteers to sign a paper in which they promised NOT TO TALK TO REFUGEES. Why? Are they not human beings like us? Are they dangerous and why should they be more dangerous than anybody else? The refugees were deeply offended seeing large groups of volunteers going to their home, doing some work, and leaving without even talking to them! Choose love? How can you love someone you do not know and you don’t even talk to? Many volunteers signed the paper, disobeyed, and kept talking to refugees, sitting in the jungle’s restaurants and fraternizing with the people living there, fair play to them.

When Cazeneuve, the minister who had created that horror of the big jungle, decided to evict it in one week, without any real solution for the thousands of people there but deportation to temporary accommodation centres far away, the associations decided to collaborate with the government, even expressing their approval in a letter to the then president of France, Hollande. Meanwhile Jean Claude Lenoir, president of the association Salam, who do not work with the other associations, was inviting everybody to “trust the government”! (“faire confiance ou gouvernment) WTF. I am not accusing all volunteers of being collaborators and most are good people. Some have been harassed and even prosecuted by police. The problem is with the head of the associations and their hierarchical organisation. Some associations’ local branches, like Secours Catholique in Calais or Emmaus in Dunkirk, are quite good. The heads of the same associations in Paris are major collaborators with the State. Clare Moseley of Care4Calais, who does not work with the other associations, grassed up and took to court various refugees who did not want her in the jungle. Moseley also falsely accused fellow humanitarian worker Mary Jones and the people who ran the Kids’ Restaurant Jungle Books of stealing money destined to the kids, taking them to court. Later the case was thrown out of court because not supported by any evidence whatsoever. Moseley’s accusations were instrumental for the police to close shops and restarants in the jungle ahead of the eviction in 2016. All this is common knowledge but nobody is talking about it.

The Auberge and Help Refugees took the government to court over the eviction, but they did not ask for the eviction to be halted until real solutions were found for everybody. They just asked for human rights to be respected, which of course is ridicolous, you cannot displace thousands of people in one week and respect their human rights. They asked for minors to be taken care of, and some minor points. They did not obtain anything, but still collaborated with the eviction. What is happening now in Calais is the result of that eviction, that is why I feel the need to keep taliking about it. The associations totally failed to make the point that people have a right to stay somewhere. The temporary accommodation places are no solution, after one month people are thrown back in the streets unless they apply for asylum in France. The rate of Dublin deportation and refusals of asylum claims made from these temporary centres is staggering, as support and information there are mostly absent, sometimes people do not even have an interpreter in their language! For everyone who was given papers and a place at the university of Lille there are dozens who dropped out the system or were refused, usually without having their cases properly heard. I met many of them, who have returned to the jungle.


CALAIS BORDER, and a few small boats

An increasing number of migrants are crossing the Channel by boat, with over 220 intercepted from November to the end of December, at sea or just after reaching the UK coasts. This is a result of increased controls at the Calais border, and the construction of huge border fence paid for by the UK, Most of those who arrive by sea are Iranians, and some Syrians. Crossing the Channel in small boats and rubber dinghies is extremely dangerous, due to intense maritime traffic, strong winds, unpredictable weather, and sea currents. Many of those rescued are underage, some are young children including toddlers and a baby. Christmas day registered the highest number of known arrivals: 5 boats carrying 40 people, Welcome to the UK! Who knows if others made it? And if others did not make it? Why do people have to risk their lives in such a way? Open the borders!

A new wave of anti-immigrant hysteria has hit the UK following these few arrivals by boat. Home secretary Sajid Javid interrupted his holidays to deal with the ‘crisis’. In fact, Javid has not proposed anything, except, once again: improving cooperation with the French authorities, fight people’s smugglers, and the usual. Trying to emulate in racism his White tory colleagues, Javid has pointed out the need to protect and reinforce the border, and tackle the refugee’s arrivals, The Home Office said there was “concern that it is only a matter of time before people lose their lives”. According to the BBC, Mr Javid will now receive daily updates from the Home Office, and has spoken to Border Force officials, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency.He has also commissioned detailed options from Border Force about the provision of additional vessels in the Channel, including another Border Force cutter, and whether this is likely to encourage more people to try to make the crossing rather than act as a deterrence.” – i.e. the new vessels would have the obligation to rescue the people they find at sea, which could encourage more people to come by boat. Two fishermen, father and son, have been looking for boats in distress the Kent coast on their boat, saying ‘someone has to do it’.   WATCH THE VIDEO, it shows the rescue of a small boat. Appalling how people are forced to travel.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, the Home Secretary and the French Interior minister have reached an accord, the 30th December, towards “a bilateral reinforced plan for action” to tackle the “problem” of the small boats. The ministers agreed on an increase in the number of surveillance patrols, as well as actions to dismantle gangs of smugglers. In addition, awareness campaigns will be set up to inform migrants about the dangers of crossing the Channel.

Fingers are pointed at the usual suspects: organized crime, mafia networks

Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said migrants were being “lured to Calais” over the internet as smugglers operate via social networks – facebook and WhatsApp “without any real oversight” from the companies controlling them.  Social media are a vital resource for people in transit, enabling them to keep in touch with friends and family and to navigate the very complex system of border controls and repression, Smugglers have little interest in the social media, as they prefer to remain invisible.

The real culprits, Fortress Europe and Fortress Britain, are left off, as ususal. Abolish borders, and smugglers will disappear overnight.

According to campaigners and lawyers, the importance of these crossings by boats has been ‘blown out of proportion’. Colin Yeo, an immigration and asylum legal expert, said: “It is hard to see how a handful of refugees arriving every day is a crisis.”Nazek Ramadan, director of the nonprofit Migrant Voice, put it more bluntly: “The situation is not a crisis.

The UK received 27,966 asylum applications this year. This number certainly does not compare to a couple hundreds arrivals! To put it even more bluntly, the idea of a ‘migrant crisis’ is simply ridicolous. Most refugees and other migrants arrive in the UK by plane, not by boat and not even by lorry. They land in the UK ariports, with real or fake passports, and not on the Kent coast.

Lawyers and campaigners have criticised Sajid Javid after the Home Secretary suggested asylum seekers should be deterred from crossing the Channel in small boats by making it harder to gain asylum, a right enshrined in international law. The Refugee Council said the comments are“deeply concerning” and the suggestion of denying asylum is unlawful. Diane Abbott called the comments “a disgrace”.

The Geneva Convention clearly states people ‘have a right to leave their countries’ and are entitled to international protection, regardless of the means they use to travel. It is a sensless attack to refugee rights and international law.

Vox Political speaks of a manufactured ‘migrant crisis’, maybe to create and anti-EU sentiment ahead of the Brexit vote. It is also noted that the expression ‘migrant crisis is used, not ‘refugee crisis’

We always say the distrinction between refugees and migrants is a false distinciton, they are all human beings and as such they should have the same rights as everybody else, and all people deserve to be free to go where they want (No Borders/ No One Is Illegal position).  The vast majority of people stranded in Calais,  however, are refugees flying wars and / or persecution.  The use of the expression ‘migrant crisis’ is probably a political propaganda choice, as to mean they are less ‘deserving’ of our ‘help’.

Make no mistake”, Labour MP David Lammy said, “this is not in response to genuine concern for human life. This is Sajid Javid imitating Donald Trump’s “migrant caravan”manufactured emergency to whip up fear before the Brexit vote. Desperate and cynical.”

The London Economics also accuses the Conservatives to use refugees as political pawns ahead of a critical Brexit period.

That the Calais ‘crisis’ il used to manipulate public opinion in the UK is no novelty. A UK media campaign caused  the closure of the refugee centre of Sangatte near Calais in 2002, and refugees started camping in the woods, the beginning of the famous Calais ‘jungle’. In 2015, French police forcibly pushed thousands migrant people in an industrial wasteland were they would be ‘tolerated’ – in fact it was the idea of the then Interior minister Cazeneuve to send them there. Beforehand, migrants were staying in various squats and woods of their choice. A huge shantytown they called the ‘jungle’ grew next to the motorway that leads to the port, and next to the new border fence. The associations counted up to 14.000 people in that jungle, a conservative estimate by their own admission. Frontline volunteers who gave blankets to people who arrived reckon that at some point numbers were touching 20.000. That jungle was very visible and always full of journalists and cameras. Daily, there were spectacular attempts to cross, mass assults to lorries, police violence galore, flahsballs and gigantic showers of tear gas, huge numbers of rubber bullets flying, people often throwing stones at the police as a response- a form of collective self-defence in my opinion, and they had no comparable weapons. Was not all this spectacle, by any chance, to give the impression of a ‘refugee crisis’, and a possible ‘invasion’ of England by foreigners? Did it not, by any chance, play in the hands of those who wanted Brexit, and influenced that ill-conceived referendum? That ‘jungle’ was short lived and was destroyed in 2016. People however still hang out in Calais, as they have done for the past 20 years, less visible and in much smaller numbers, and they keep going to England – Calais was never empty of migrants, and a few days after the destruction of the ‘jungle’ a large group of Afghans passed from Calais to the UK, in the back of two lorries. Crossing by boat has been happening for quite a while, though it was not so common. A boat full of my friends was intercepted in 2013, when near the UK coast the engine broke. Others were fished out the Channel from rafts and rubber dinghies just before they sank, including a father with a baby daughter: a number of such rescues were reported over the years.

In a wider perspective, it seems to me there is not such a thing like a ‘refugee crisis’ or a ‘migrant crisis’: it is a crisis for the people on the move, not for Europe. In the industrialized countries migrants are always needed to fill labour shortages. If all countries in Europe took a share of refugees nobody would notice there is a crisis. Instead, migration policies insanely stupid and cruel let people accumulate at the border points, where they are confined in camps that are unfit for animals , like on the Greek islands where children try to kill themselves. People fly from our bombs and drown in the Mediterranean sea in their thousands because all legal ways to enter Europe have been closed to them. They escape extreme poverty caused by neoliberal policies, i.e. the theft of land and resources in their own countries: ‘we’ should go home, not ‘them’. They do not need our ‘help’ either, they need us to leave them alone. When they try escape poverty they are confronted by new types of hyper-exploitation. People work for a pittance, people are trafficked, sold into slavery, forced into prostitution,. They are made ‘illegal’ and forced to hide, detained, and deported to the same countries they fled for their lives. European and UK policies against refugees and other migrants can only be understood in terms of racism, imperialism, and slavery.

Since the destruction of the ‘jungle’ in 2016, migrants have not disappeared, but conditions in Calais have deteriorated – to unimaginable levels. The media circus has disappeared, with a nearly complete lack of coverage until recently, and as a result many thought there were no more migrants left in Calais. Migrants trying for England,instead, have spread everywhere. There are migrants not only in Calais and Dunkirk, but in Belgium, in Paris, Ouistreham, Caen and all along the coast, as far as Bilbao in the Basque Country. They are surviving in the most dangerous conditions, exposed to police brutality worst than ever. Detention and deportations from France have increased, also to countries like Afghanistan and Sudan. People without papers are obliged to hide: at least in the Calais area they cannot leave the woods for fear of being arrested. Only the new day centre of Secours Catholique offers some respite, but people have to be taken to the centre and back to the jungles by associations’ vans to avoid arrest. A slightly better situation is in Oustreham, due to local people’s solidarity and mobilization. In Belgium a strong solidarity movement has formed, many people are defending migrants and sheltering them in their homes but solidarity is now under attack from the Belgian authorities. Appalling situation in Paris, where at least 1.500 migrants, refugees mostly, including many unaccompanied minors and families with young children are sleeping rough, amongst gassings, destructions of camps, micro criminality and hard drugs spreading, as Paris Refugee Ground Support report. Destrucions have greatly intensified in Dunkirk against the several hundreds of people who try from there, mainly Kurdish, including families with young children, Four associations present in Calais have published a report with several cases of police violence, from 1st November 2017 to 1st November 2018, including destructions of tents and people’s belongings, physical violence and intimidation, also against unaccompanied minors and women, including beatings and indiscriminate use of CS gas. The abuses exposed in this report are the tip of the iceberg.

The prefect of Pas the Calais, who is responsible for the police, denies any wrongdoing on their behalf, saying the police are acting very professionally, and the associations are lying. Volunteers are daily harassed by police, and solidarity criminalized. May be worth remembering though that the Auberge des migrants, who worked at the report and with whom most other associations are based, also collaborated with the destruction of the jungle in 2016.

See also

Fai clic per accedere a Police-Harrassment-of-Volunteers-in-Calais-1.pdf

Calais boat arrivals – Nubers from the BBC:

31 December – six Iranian men are found soaking wet in Dover

28 December – Twelve migrants in two separate boats detained off the coast of Dover
27 December – Some 23 migrants, including three children, were detained in Kent after crossing the channel in small three boats
26 December – Three migrants brought ashore by Border Force
25 December – Forty migrants, including two children, crossed the Channel in five boats
15 December – Four children are among a group of 11 people rescued off Dover. Eight said they were Iraqi and the other three claimed to be Iranian
12 December – Six men found in a dinghy off the coast of Dover
11 December – Six people, thought to be from Iran were rescued from a small boat off the Kent coast. A second boat with eight men, all saying they were Iranian were picked up later the same day off Dover
4 December – Two men were brought to shore at Dover
27 November – An 18-month-old baby was among nine people rescued from a dinghy off Dover
23 November – Eight men located in a dinghy off the coast of Dover
22 November – Thirteen men and one woman were intercepted in two dinghies off the coast of Dover
18 November – Nine suspected migrants were found clambering up rocks in Folkestone after apparently crossing the English Channel in a small boat
16 November – Seven suspected migrants were found off Samphire Hoe, near Dover
14 November – Nine suspected migrants – seven men, one woman and a toddler – were found off the Kent coast. Another 10 were found near Dover Docks and five men were found several miles of Ramsgate
13 November – Fourteen men and three children entered Port of Dover on a French fishing boat believed to be stolen
9 November -Seven men were found in the English Channel off Dover
3 November – Eight suspected migrants were stopped off the Kent coast and seven others were stopped at Dover Western Docks

Also published on Freedom News

More on police violence and VIDEO:

Bosnia and the ‘new Balkan route’/ Bihac


A growing number of refugees and other migrants are using the new Balkan route through Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia to reach the EU. Many passed recently to Bosnia from Serbia. An estimate 4000 to 5000 migrant people are now in Bosnia, most of whom want to continue northwards. Numbers are a matter of guess, since people are on the move and most are not in official camps. They are forced in the most squalid living conditions by deliberate abandonment by the State. According to a recent report from Human Rights Watch, Bosnia is ‘failing to protect asylum seekers

3270 are in the official camps in Serbia, according to the authorities, no data for those who are not in the camps. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees passed through the Balkan route in 2015, trying to reach Western Europe, but Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania were mostly not part of that route, which was partly shut down in 2016 through increased border controls and miles of razor wire fences. People still pass through the Balkans but it is much more difficult, smugglers get fat and the human flood has become a trickle. To tackle this new ‘refugee crisis’ the authorities in the region held a meeting in Sarajevo the 7th of June, in which took place also Hungary and Austria. Objective of the meeting is to avoid the ‘crisis’ of 2015, and strengthen co-operation between the States to stop people from crossing borders. The possible creation of a new database of biometric data has been mentioned, to ensure those entering do not have already been refused by EU States. On the same day, the EU announced 1.5 million euros to Bosnia to manage the ‘crisis’.

The Croatian border is already very difficult to cross, and police violence very high. On the night between 30 and 31 May, Croatian police opened fire on a van carrying migrants from Bosnia, seriously injuring two 12 years old children, a boy and a girl, who were  put in intensive care. There were 29 people in the van, 15 were children, the youngest 7 years old. In total, 7 people ended up in hospital. Both children had facial wounds from gunfire. One of them was transferred to Zagreb hospital for the additional reconstructive surgery of the jaw and face. A man was shot and injured by Croatian police the 6th of June. 

 Update on the case of children shot by the Croatian police near the Bosnian border

via Are You Syrious

AYS has reported on the shooting by the Croatian police that happened in the night of May the 30th around 10 PM near the town Donji Lapac and Plitvice Lakes. The police opened fire on a van which appeared to be smuggling refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two 12 year old children — a boy and a girl from Iraq were severely wounded by the police bullets, as well as the father of one of the children.

As soon as we could, we took their statements for the investigation and reporting purposes.

We must stress that the families are determined in their decision to investigate the shooting.

Visualizza su

There are many other reports of police brutality in Croatia, including pepper spray, dog attacks, savage beatings and some broken bones. A woman had an abortion after being beaten by Croatian police. Confiscation of money and personal belongings though illegal is common practice, as well as destruction of mobile phones. Push backs of people who are already on Croatian territory are illegal but a common occurrence. The UNHR recorded 3000 cases of illegal push backs from Croatia in 2017, may be the tip of the iceberg. Medicins Sans Frontieres recorded 7 deaths at the Croatian border on the same year, real numbers may be higher. A 6 years old Afghan girl, Madina Hussiny, died after being run over by a train, after an illegal push back by Croatian police at the Serbian border. Her family was detained for weeks after the incident, children included.

 To the dangers of crossing borders must be added the danger of unexploded landmines left over from the war. 

There are also reports of illegal push-backs from Slovenia. Slovenia has placed barbed wire over 170 km along the Croatian border in 2017, improving the barbed wire of 2016. People still pass if they are lucky, but sometimes have to wander in the woods for days. Many migrants complain of local people calling the police, in Croatia and also in Slovenia too. A group of Iranians including a woman told me that near the Italian border they were stopped and arrested by Slovenian police, who then handed them over to Croatian police. The Croatian policemen took their money and belongings, telling them they will return them at the border, but at the Bosnian border the policemen refused to return money and belongings, and when people kept asking they hit them with truncheons. One man lost more than 1000 euros, all he had. The police also broke all their mobile phones, and returned them to Bosnia with the clothes they were wearing. Another woman told us, crying and broken after the umpteenth pushback, she had 18.000 euros: in a few months she lost everything to pay the smugglers, and the police took her last money . She and her husband were engineers in Iran and they had a good life, they were forced to flee the regime.

We saw police arresting an Afghan family in Slovenia, not far from the Croatian border. A policeman, unexpectedly polite and almost friendly, told us they were taking them to hospital. We spoke to the family, a man who speaks good English and two women, who are his mother and his young wife. They had been walking in the ‘jungle’ for four days. The man had a broken leg from falling, the two women were totally exhausted and lying down. We gave them water, fruit, biscuits and chocolate, all the food we had as they were hungry and dehydrated. Then a police van arrived to collect them. We are unable at this stage to verify if they were really taken to hospital.

This family were coming from Bihac, where we had just been. A local Red Cross worker estimates up to 2000 migrant people may be there, 1500 in the small town of 60.000 inhabitants, 500 sleeping in woodlands. Again, numbers may be a guess. Local people are very welcoming. There are an estimate 300 to 500 at Velika Kladusa including many families with young children and pregnant women, camping out, and there are some 800 migrants in Sarajevo. There are food and aid distribution in all these places, done by volunteers and the donations come almost exclusively from local people. Migrants are taken from Sarajevo, 250 at a time, put on coaches quite forcibly and taken to Salakovac, an official camp near Mostar, 129 Km south of Sarajevo. Most leave again to go nearer the border.

Bihac report

In Bihac there is no official camp but two dilapidated buildings where people are sleeping. One is a huge building whose construction was abandoned because of the war, it is squatted and houses only single men. In the other building, in no better conditions, people have been allowed to stay by the local council, but the  building is very unsafe and unhealthy. The windows have no glass and there are no railings to the stairs. Overcrowding is very severe, and families with young children and babies are mixed with adult men. There are no safety exits: if a fire or a fight broke out people would have no escape. There are many women, children and teenagers. I saw an old women holding a baby, this family sleep in the most overcrowded of the rooms, as most families, because it is dry, elsewhere the rain filters inside. A Kurdish woman, part of a group coming from Afrin, told me in broken English her husband was killed, and she is here alone with three children. There is one water tap in the courtyard for up to 600 people. There are some chemical toilets that don’t get cleaned very often.


There are tensions sometimes between different nationalities. There are Afghans, Pakistanis, Iranians, Indians,  Kurds from Iraq, Syria and Turkey, Iraqi Arabs, a few other Arabs from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, sometimes Syrians, and a couple Black Africans. There is a lot of solidarity among people, they understand they are all suffering and sympathize with each other. I would think it is a good community, in fact the situation does not explode, the atmosphere in the broken and overcrowded house is good most of the time but sometimes there are fights. Many people complain about being mixed all together, especially the families. The park where this 5 star hotel is situated is very beautiful, many people go to sit there under the trees during the day, instead of staying in the smelly building. There is a monument to the Resistance in the park, with a freedom fighter holding a gun, another is lying down, wounded or dying, and hundreds of stones are scattered in the park carrying the names of the people of Bihac who lost their lives fighting historical fascism.


This informal camp of Bihac is receiving no support whatsoever from the State. All support comes from local people, who are very poor themselves, most young people have to migrate in search for work. Refugees say Bosnian people are very good. Aid is distributed via volunteers: whatever  I think of the Red Cross in general, the local group in Bihac are very good, though badly starved of cash and resources. Most of the work is done by unpaid volunteers, most of whom are of school age: the minors stay in the warehouse sorting clothes, those who are 18 or over go to the camps, working very hard and for long hours under the guidance of a few supervisors, many  are not much older, The volunteers are great, very nice and good communicators, a bright example of the generosity of the Bosnian people, who also suffered a most devastating war very recently. Many houses are still scarred by bullets. The Red Cross distribute a small lunch, and clothes when they have clothes to distribute, while the IOM give some tents and run some showers. There is no medical care whatsoever except in emergencies because there is no funding for it. There is a scabies epidemic, and people with respiratory diseases and sick stomach. 

The Italian group One Bridge To Idomeni have paid a visit to Bosnia (Bihac and Velika Kladusa) on the 2nd -3rd June, pledging to send humanitarian aid, and volunteers at the week ends. More volunteers are needed. Collections are most needed, as people are lacking the very basics such as food and clothing, the wish list is below.

There is a project to make a park for the children in Bihac where they can play, as they are behaving wildly. In particular they like running after vehicles, open them and get inside. Every vehicle that enters the courtyard gets immediately attacked by bands of kids. I saw a little boy of about four showing a younger boy how to open a Red Cross van. On another occasion the police was called, apparenly because some adult was selling room to stay to newly arrived people, when they can stay for free. In no time a gang of kids got in the police car, and took the steering wheel. Kids always make their fun as they can.

Photos by Lorena Fornasir, independent vounteer involved in supporting Bihac camp

For donations to Bihac and Velika Kladusa via One Bridge To Idomeni :

IBAN IT95S0501812101000012405106

One Bridge To Idomeni Onlus

Wish list below the photos (clothes, food, nappies…)



Wish list:

Second hand clothes in good condition, sporty/casual, size M/S for men, M/S for women, children clothes: trousers, jumpers, jackets, T shirts, underwear, socks.

SHOES sporty/ trainers /boots size 40 – 44 for men, 35 – 40 women, children shoes.

Blankets and sleeping bags, tents, mattresses.

Hygiene products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, nappies for the kids, sanitary towels (no tampons). 

Food: Rice, dry beans, lentils, canned beans, fresh vegetables, canned vegetables/ tomatoes, cooking oil, canned fish, dry food like biscuits and crackers. People who have no money are not eating enough. 

MONEY to buy the above. 


Bosnia e la “nuova rotta balcaninca”/ Bihac

Un numero crescente di rifugiati e altri migranti sta utilizzando la nuova rotta balcanica attraverso l’Albania, il Montenegro e la Bosnia per raggiungere l’UE. Molti sono passati di recente in Bosnia dalla Serbia. Si stima che vi siano ora in Bosnia da 4000 a 5000 migranti, la maggior parte dei quali vuole continuare verso nord. I numeri sono una scommessa, dal momento che le persone sono in movimento e la maggior parte non sono nei campi ufficiali. Sono costretti nelle condizioni di vita più squallide dall’abbandono deliberato da parte dello Stato. Secondo un recente rapporto di Human Rights Watch, la Bosnia “non protegge i richiedenti asilo”

3270 sono nei campi ufficiali in Serbia, secondo le autorità; nessun dato per coloro che non sono nei campi. Centinaia di migliaia di migranti e rifugiati hanno attraversato la rotta balcanica nel 2015, cercando di raggiungere l’Europa occidentale, ma Bosnia, Montenegro e Albania non erano per lo più parte di quella rotta, che è stata in parte chiusa nel 2016 attraverso l’aumento dei controlli alle frontiere e chilometri di barriere di filo spinato. La gente attraversa ancora i Balcani, ma è molto più difficile, i passeurs ingrassano e il “la fiumana umana” è diventata un rivolo. Per affrontare questa nuova “crisi dei rifugiati”, le autorità della regione hanno tenuto un incontro a Sarajevo il 7 giugno, a cui hanno partecipato anche l’Ungheria e l’Austria. Obiettivo dell’incontro è evitare la “crisi” del 2015 e rafforzare la cooperazione tra gli Stati per impedire alle persone di attraversare le frontiere. È stata menzionata la possibile creazione di un nuovo database di dati biometrici, per garantire che coloro che entrano non siano già stati rifiutati dagli Stati dell’UE. Lo stesso giorno, l’UE ha annunciato che darà 1.5 milioni di euro alla Bosnia per gestire la “crisi”.

Il confine croato è già molto difficile da attraversare e la violenza della polizia è molto alta. Nella notte tra il 30 e il 31 maggio, la polizia croata ha aperto il fuoco su un furgone che trasportava dei migranti dalla Bosnia, ferendo gravemente due bambini di 12 anni, un ragazzo e una ragazza, che sono stati sottoposti a cure intensive. C’erano 29 persone nel furgone, 15 erano bambini, il più giovane di 7 anni. In totale, 7 persone sono finite in ospedale. Entrambi i bambini hanno ferite sul viso da colpi di arma da fuoco. Uno di loro è stato trasferito all’ospedale di Zagabria per l’ulteriore chirurgia ricostruttiva della mascella e del viso. Un uomo è stato colpito e ferito dalla polizia croata il 6 giugno.

Ci sono molti altri resoconti di brutalità da parte della polizia in Croazia, tra cui spray al peperoncino, attacchi di cani, pestaggi selvaggi e alcune ossa rotte. Una donna ha abortito dopo essere stata picchiata dalla polizia croata. La confisca di denaro e oggetti personali sebbene illegale è pratica comune, così come la distruzione dei telefoni cellulari. I respingimenti di persone che sono già sul territorio croato sono illegali ma un evento comune. L’UNHR ha registrato 3000 casi di respingimenti illegali dalla Croazia nel 2017, potrebbe essere la punta dell’iceberg. Medicins Sans Frontieres ha registrato 7 morti al confine con la Croazia nello stesso anno, i numeri reali potrebbero essere più alti. Una bambina afgana di 6 anni, Madina Hussiny, è morta dopo essere stata investita da un treno, dopo un respingimento illegale da parte della polizia croata al confine serbo. La sua famiglia è stata detenuta per settimane dopo l’incidente, inclusi i bambini.

Ai pericoli di attraversare i confini si aggiunge il pericolo di mine inesplose rimaste dopo guerra.

Ci sono anche segnalazioni di respingimenti illegali dalla Slovenia. La Slovenia ha messo filo spinato per oltre 170 km lungo il confine croato nel 2017, migliorando il filo spinato del 2016. Le persone continuano a passare se sono fortunati, ma a volte devono vagare per giorni nei boschi. Molti migranti si lamentano che la gente del posto che chiama la polizia, in Croazia e anche in Slovenia. Un gruppo di iraniani tra cui una donna mi ha detto che vicino al confine italiano sono stati fermati e arrestati dalla polizia slovena, che li ha poi consegnati alla polizia croata. I poliziotti croati hanno preso i loro soldi e le loro cose, dicendo loro che li avrebbero restituiti al confine, ma al confine con la Bosnia i poliziotti si sono rifiutati di restituire denaro e zainetti, e siccome gli iraniani insistevano a domandare li hanno colpiti con i manganelli. Un uomo ha perso più di 1000 euro, tutto ciò che aveva. La polizia ha anche rotto tutti i loro telefoni cellulari e li ha restituiti alla Bosnia coi vestiti che indossavano. Un’altra donna ci ha detto piangendo, devastata dopo l’ennesimo respingimento, che aveva 18.000 euro: in pochi mesi ha perso tutto per pagare i passeurs, e la polizia ha preso i suoi ultimi soldi. La donna e suo marito erano ingegneri in Iran ed avevano una buona vita, sono stati costretti a fuggire dal regime.

Abbiamo visto la polizia arrestare una famiglia afgana in Slovenia, non lontano dal confine croato. Un poliziotto, inaspettatamente gentile e quasi amichevole, ci ha detto che li stavano portando all’ ospedale. Abbiamo parlato con la famiglia, un uomo che parla bene l’inglese e due donne che sono sua madre e la sua giovane moglie. Stavano camminando nella ‘giungla’ da quattro giorni. L’uomo ha avuto una distorsione alla caviglia slogata per una caduta, le due donne erano completamente esauste e stavano distese. Abbiamo dato loro acqua, frutta, biscotti e cioccolata, tutto cio’ che avevamo perché erano affamati e disidratati. Poi un furgone della polizia è arrivato a prenderli. In questo momento non siamo in grado di verificare se siano stati effettivamente portati all’ ospedale.

Questa famiglia proveniva da Bihac, dove eravamo appena stati. Un impiegato della Croce Rossa locale stima che ci potrebbero essere fino a 2000 persone migranti, 1500 nella cittadina di 60.000 abitanti, 500 che dormono nei boschi. Ancora una volta, i numeri sono ipotetici. La popolazione locale è molto ospitale. Ci sono da 300 a 500 persone a Velika Kladusa secondo varie stime, tra cui molte famiglie con bambini piccoli e donne incinte, accampati fuori, e ci sono circa 800 migranti a Sarajevo. Ci sono cibo e distribuzione di aiuti in tutti questi posti, fatto da volontari e le donazioni provengono quasi esclusivamente dalla popolazione locale. I migranti vengono prelevati da Sarajevo, 250 alla volta, caricati su bus in maniera piuttosto forzata, e portati a Salakovac, un campo ufficiale vicino a Mostar, 129 km a sud di Sarajevo. La maggior parte se ne vanno di nuovo per andare verso il confine.

Relazione da Bihac

A Bihac non esiste un campo ufficiale ma due edifici fatiscenti dove la gente dorme. Uno è un enorme edificio la cui costruzione è stata abbandonata a causa della guerra, è occupata e ospita solo uomini singoli. Nell’altro edificio, in condizioni non migliori, le persone sono state autorizzate a rimanere dall’amministrazione comunale locale, ma l’edificio è molto pericoloso e malsano. Le finestre non hanno vetri e non ci sono ringhiere per le scale. Il sovraffollamento è molto grave e le famiglie con bambini piccoli e neonati sono mescolate con uomini adulti. Non ci sono uscite di sicurezza: se scoppiasse un incendio o una rissa, la gente non avrebbe scampo. Ci sono molte donne, bambini e adolescenti. Ho visto una donna anziana tenere in braccio un bambino, questa famiglia dorme nello stanzone più affollato, come la maggior parte delle famiglie, perché non è umido, altrove la pioggia filtra all’interno. Una donna kurda, parte di un gruppo proveniente da Afrin, mi ha detto in inglese stentato che suo marito è stato ucciso, ed è qui da sola con tre figli. C’è un solo rubinetto dell’acqua nel cortile per fino a 600 persone. Ci sono alcuni gabinetti chimici che non vengono puliti molto spesso.

Ci sono tensioni a volte tra diverse nazionalità. Ci sono afgani, pakistani, iraniani, indiani, curdi dall’Iraq, Siria e Turchia, arabi iracheni, altri arabi dall’Algeria, dalla Tunisia, dalla Libia, a volte siriani e un paio di neri africani. C’è molta solidarietà tra le persone, capiscono che sono tutte in una situazione di sofferenza e sono solidali gli uni con gli altri. Penserei che si tatti di una buona comunità, infatti la situazione non esplode, l’atmosfera nel palazzone derelitto e sovraffollato è buona, la maggior parte del tempo, ma a volte ci sono risse. Molte persone si lamentano per essere mescolati tutti insieme, specialmente le famiglie. Il parco dove si trova questo hotel a 5 stelle è molto bello, molti vanno a sedersi sotto gli alberi durante il giorno, invece di stare nell’edificio maleodorante. C’è un monumento alla Resistenza nel parco, con un combattente per la libertà che tiene un fucile, un altro è sdraiato, ferito o morente, e centinaia di pietre sono sparse nel parco che portano i nomi della gente di Bihac che perse la vita combattendo  il fascismo storico.

Questo campo informale di Bihac non riceve alcun sostegno dallo Stato. Tutto il sostegno viene dalla popolazione locale, che è molto povera, la maggior parte dei giovani deve migrare in cerca di lavoro. I rifugiati dicono che i bosniaci sono molto bravi. L’aiuto è distribuito tramite volontari: qualunque cosa io pensi della Croce Rossa in generale, il gruppo locale di Bihac sono molto bravi, anche se mancano grandemente di denaro e risorse. La maggior parte del lavoro è svolto da volontari non retribuiti, la maggior parte dei quali sono in età scolare: i minori rimangono nel magazzino per smistare i vestiti, quelli che hanno 18 anni o più vanno nei campi profughi informali, lavorando duramente e per lunghe ore sotto la guida di un pochi supervisori, spesso non molto più anziani; i volontari sono splendidi, molto simpatici e buoni comunicatori, un brillante esempio della generosità del popolo bosniaco, che ha anche sofferto una devastante guerra di recente. Molte case sono ancora segnate dalle pallottole. La Croce Rossa distribuisce un piccolo pranzo una volta al giorno, e vestiti quando hanno vestiti da distribuire, mentre l’OIM dà delle tende e fornisce delle docce. Non ci sono cure mediche di alcun genere tranne che nelle emergenze perché non ci sono finanziamenti per questo. C’è un’epidemia di scabbia e persone con malattie respiratorie e di stomaco.

Il gruppo italiano One Bridge To Idomeni ha fatto visita in Bosnia (Bihac e Velika Kladusa) dal 2 al 3 giugno, impegnandosi a inviare aiuti umanitari, e volontari durante i fine settimana. Sono necessari più volontari. Raccolte di soldi e materiali sono estremamante necessarie, poiché mancano le cose piu essenziali, come cibo e vestiti, la lista di cio che serve è  sotto.

C’è un progetto per creare un parco per i bambini a Bihac dove possono giocare, visto che si comportano selvaggiamante. In particolare a loro piace correre dietro ai veicoli, aprirli ed entrare. Ogni veicolo che entra nel cortile viene immediatamente attaccato da bande di bambini. Ho visto un bambino di circa quattro anni che mostrava ad un bambino più piccolo come aprire un furgone della Croce Rossa. In un’altra occasione qualcuno ha chiamato la polizia, apparentemente perché alcuni adulti stavano vendendo stanze ai nuovi arrivati, quando chiunque puo rimanere gratuitamente. In pochissimo tempo una banda di bambini sono saliti nella macchina della polizia e hanno preso il volante. I bambini si divertono sempre come possono.

Foto (vedi testo inglese) di Lorena Fornasir, volontaria indipendente impegnata nel sostenere il campo di Bihac

Per  donazioni a Bihac e Velika Kladusa tramite One Bridge To Idomeni:

IBAN IT95S0501812101000012405106

One Bridge To Idomeni Onlus



Lista dei desideri:

Abbigliamento di seconda mano in buone condizioni, sportivo /casual, taglia M/S per uomo, M/S per donna, abbigliamento per bambini. Pantaloni, maglioni, giacche, magliette, biancheria intima, calze.

SCARPE sportive / scarpe da ginnastica /scarponcini taglia 40 – 44 per uomo, 35 – 40 donna, scarpe per bambini.

Coperte e sacchi a pelo, tende, materassi.

Prodotti per l’igiene come sapone, shampoo, dentifricio, spazzolini da denti, rasoi, pannolini per i bambini, assorbenti igienici (non tamponi).

Cibo: riso, fagioli secchi, lenticchie fagioli in scatola, verdure fresche, verdure e pomodori in scatola, olio di semi, pesce in scatola, cibo secco come biscotti e crackers. Le persone che non hanno soldi non stanno mangiando abbastanza.

SOLDI per acquistare quanto sopra.

Mawda, 2 years old, shot dead by border police in Belgium. Protests in many places. Dunkirk eviction. News from Calais. Dire situation in Paris

UPDATES: Paris eviction/ Refugees return to Dunkirk (below the article)

Mawda’s funeral took place on the 30th May drawing a crowd of 1500 people at least. The grieving family expressed their gratitude for the great show of solidarity by Belgian citizens. Video:

Mawda was killed when Belgian police opened fire on a van carrying 30 refugees, including two families with four children under 6, during a chase of the van, the driver refused to stop. A bullet hit Mawda Shawri on the face, she was pronounced dead at her arrival in hospital. The family were not allowed in the ambulance and were arrested: they only heard of the death of their little girl two days later, after being held in a police cell. The incident took place the night between 16th and  17th May 2018.

MawdaMawda Shawri

The Kurdish community at Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk, where Mawda had been staying, held a spontaneous protest on the 17th and bloked the motorway before being dispersed by riot police. A vigil was held in Calais, as always the day after somebody dies at the border. Protests followed in several Belgian cities, and calls for the resignation of the Interior minister Jan Jambon.  





Initially the police claimed the Mawda had been hit by a stray bullet. and the defence line is that they were firing at the wheels of the van. On the 21st May the family spoke at a press conference.  The father, Shamden Ali Ahmed Shawri, claimed the van was being chased by four police cars, one on each side, and two behind.  Mawda’s family were sitting in the front next to the driver, with another family in the back. During the chase they broke the windows in the back to show the police there were children in the vehicle. Mawda’s father saw the fatal shot came from a passenger in the police car driving to the left of the vehicle. He remembers seeing a lot of blood, his wife was covered in blood: it was Mawda’s. The shot had missed the driver and hit Mawda instead. A police officer attempted to give first aid, and an ambulance didn’t arrive for another 20 or 30 minutes! The parents said they were not allowed to join their child in the ambulance and only found out two days later, after being held in a police cell, that their daughter had died. Their lawyer Olivier Stein has asked that an independent parliamentary committee of inquiry looks into this case. The parquet of Mons (the magistrate in charge of preparing the court case) has accepted the parent’s version and dismissed the police’s version. The police who fired the shot remains at liberty and is being investigated by the police’s commission. Mawda’s parents and brother will be allowed to stay in Belgium but the rest of those travelling with them have been told they must leave after the funeral,  the 30th of May, that is before the enqury gets under way apparently.  #JusticeForMawda
What can you do?  Use this letter template asking your MP to call the government to action: What happens at the UK border is the result of UK policies to stop migrants on the other side of the channel. 

Mawda’s parents are Kurds who fled Iraq with her little brother, now 4 years old, after ISIS invaded; Mawda was born in Germany and the family were trying to cross to the UK where they have relatives.  (via VZWGent4Humanity refugee support)


The 23rd May at least 600 people demonstrated in Brussels, asking for justice for Madwa.

On the 24th May, planned evictions of all Dunkirk sites went ahead.

“After much anticipation and many postponed warnings, the French authorities evicted all of the current sites in the Dunkirk area. They began with the emergency centre that was set up back in mid-winter. This centre had become “home” to over 300 people, with another 100 living slumped against its walls outside. The families and individuals were directed onto buses that would drive them to an unknown destination. Following this, the police and CRS turned their attention to the woodland where we operate, sending dozens of officers through the forest, turfing people out and destroying shelters. As always, there were unjustified arrests and blatant abuses of power. Fortunately, due to the warnings and advice of volunteers most people had already departed the previous day”. (Report by Mobile Refugee Support)



On occasion  of the latest demonstration  in Dunkirk, the 26th May, the Refugee Women’s Centre wrote: “We remember Mawda’s mother cuddling her while joining in English lessons with us, enthusiastic for the future she was trying to build for her family in a safe home. They had come here to escape violence in Iraq, but instead were made victims of a violent Europe. Today  in Dunkirk, members of the Kurdish community, volunteers and local residents came together to honour Mawda’s life and protest her untimely death. The gathering was a solemn reminder of the cost of police brutality not only on individuals but on entire communities.”



The migrants in Dunkirk are now living in the woods, 80 people at least, more will come back from the temporary accommodation centres where they have been driven because they need to go to UK. There are no camps because they have just been destroyed, people are just sleeping rough, and no water because the mayor, Damine Careme, had it cut off when he opened the shelter, to discourage people from living in the woods. The area where people are settling is full of toxic fumes and noise from factories.



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In Calais, segregation in the ‘jungles’ is complete. Migrants do not go to town any more because they are afraid of being arrested. Destruction of tents, blankets and people’s property by police are a daily occurrence. There is no water. Police violence is very high and there is a proliferation of guns in the camps, especially in the Afghan area, and guys with guns and cocaine addictions, and underage boys sleeping there. After the shooting in February, when 5 very young Eritreans  nearly got killed, police did not catch anybody. Volunteers keep going to the jungles to bring humanitarian aid, else there would not be any witnesses. They continue to be heavily harassed by police, and sometimes thretened by smuglers and crazy guys. Their courage and perseverance are truly inspiring, and so is the courage of the people in the jungles, who keep smiling despite the situation. However they are not really happy. Many people have gone to England, the others have high hopes. There are quite a few women besides minors and very young people . Numbers have gone down. Tubrerculosis spreading. I find it intolerable that people are pushed in such conditions, and I blame not only the French State, that is behaving like a fascist State, but also the heads of the main associations, who collaborated with the eviction of the jungle in 2016, even signing a letter of approval, and this is the result. Now Jean Claude Lenoir, president of the association SALAM, has stopped going to meeting at the prefecture, better late than never, in protest at the appalling situation. Christian Salomè president of the Auberge des migrants keeps going to these meetings. To call them meeting is an improper definition, the authorities just tell the associations what they are going to do, they do not listen to what the associtaions say,  they just rely on the associations to tell the migrants what they are gong to do. Vincent De Conink, responsable of the Calais mission of Secours Catholique (Caritas) has left, he was the most outspoken and willing to face the authorities.



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The new daycentre of Secours Catholique is very good, and since the charities have vans to drive people to and from the jungle quite a few people have started going there. The Red Cross have an outpost in rue Verrotieres where the food distribution was, I will write elsewhere what I think of the Red Cross but the volunteers are nice, and it creates a bit of a social space in the wilderness. The Red Cross have a tracing service for missing migrants, many use it to find friends and family members. The new food distribution is two streets from Verrotieres, and the food is not bad, filling and with a lot of meat. Some barb wire has been cut off, some holes made in the fences and a back entrance has been made, entire parts of fence have been removed so it does not look so much like concentration camp now, and the police wathces from a distance; at the beginnng people did not want to go there and boycotted the new State food distribution run by la Vie Active , a big boycott action. The Refugee Community Kitchen keep cooking, and volunteers from various associatins keep driving around vans full of food, that they distribute near all the jungles and also in Dunkirk, and there is also a distribution in Calais centre  for the few lucky ones who have papers, so the food situation is better than before, only the water is missing. Another thing that is missing is political action, apart from the solidarity march initiated by the Auberge des migrants, that may be a nice initiative but I cannot really trust the Auberge to lead the resistance, sometimes they defend the migrants, sometimes they side with the institutions. Radical action is disappearing.


Up to 2.500 men, women and children are surviving in the streets of Paris in appalling conditions. Two men have drown falling in the river. The Interior minister Collomb, sollecitated by the mayor of Paris Annie Hidalgo, promised to destroy the camps and re-house the people – which may help those who want to stay in France, but in the case of the numerous people with fingerprints in other countrie could result in more deportations.

UPDATE: Today 30th May a mass eviction took place. As usually happens, the refugees were raided at dawn, made wait for hours, shouted at and abused by numerous riot police (one cop per two refugees), no information was given, then they were deported on coaches to unknown destination. Video:

Afterwards, as usually happens, the tents and belongings left behind were destroyed. What will happen to the people? The lucky ones will end up in nice accommodation places, that is the minority. The vast majority will end up in sub-standard accommodation, dormitories, temporary accommodation places where they can stay up to three days. The most unlucky ones will be placed in detention centres and deported to other ‘safe’ third countries under Dublin regulations. Or worst, will be deported to Kabul, or to Khartom. Eventually many (the majority) will return to the streets, in the absence of any dignified and permanent solutions, the camps will start building up again, new people will arrive. As usually happens. Since the accommodation system in France is a shame, and nobody is willing to fix it. (I love it when the guy from France terre d’asile says in the video it is normal procedure, 30th time he saw it in a few years, no trouble everything quiet etc. FTdA is a collaborator with the State, needless to say).


Meanwhile in Dunkirk many people are returning and setting up camp in the woods. As Mobile Refugee Support write: “One week on from the full eviction, many people are already returning to Dunkirk. Today has again seen the arrival of new families and groups. The new “camp” is far from ideal and is situated in a hidden area of woodland behind an industrial plant”. On the 30th May THEY WERE EVICTED AGAIN  and again put on coaches to unknown destination. The photo was taken a few hours before this last eviction by Mobile Refugee Support teamretourn.Dunkirk

A national demonstration is planned in Paris for the 2nd June against the new immigration law, that if passed will see asylum rights very much curtailed.



Worst cold ever, urgent request for help in the North of France

New wave of intense cold in the North of France, please donate. Volunteers are literally saving lives. Due to constant destructions by police of people’s tents, bedding and belongings everything is always in short supply. I think the biggest emergencies are Paris and Dunkirk. In Calais there is constant need too but there is a bit more support, and shelters for the extreme cold are opening though places are not sufficient and there are always many people sleeping out. Mind the authorities and police always destroy tents when people are in the cold weather shelters, so please send and save tents for when the shelters close. After the last big destruction near rue Verrotieres, people spent two nights out without shelter because the Auberge des migrants did not have enough (400) tents to give.

Most needed:

Sleeping bags
Water containers (5 litres preferred) and bottled water, access to water is a big problem)
Warm clothes especially jackets (sporty, dark colours preferred, for men, women and children 11+)
T shirts, underwear, socks (thermal socks are awesome)
Hats, scarves, gloves
Waterproof jackets
Shoes (sporty)
Dry/ canned food
Pots, pans, camping gas
Small torches
Sim cards and credit (English 3G, English Lyca and French Lyca)
Used / cheap mobile phones
Hygiene products


At least 1300 migrant people were left out to freeze under the snow in their tents in Paris North during the last cold wave, the total number of people sleeping out in Paris is unknown. Most did not find place in the cold weather shelters. The photos speak for themselves:

As you can see the very numerous evictions and constant police harassment have failed to stop new camps forming again. The CAO system is always saturated and it does not meet the needs of those who do not want to apply for asylum in France, that is the only ‘solution’ on offer at the end; all emergency accommodation is always saturated. Paris Refugee Ground Support report of 65 people arriving in the Paris North camps over the last week-end in just 48 hours, including many underage boys and girls. Women and families with young children are usually sheltered by volunteers and local people but they do not manage to shelter all the unaccompanied minors. By law these kids should be given a roof and some protection, but they are often turned out from the official shelters for minors for lack of spaces, or for spurious reasons such as they cannot proof their age. Hundreds of underage boys are sleeping in the streets of Paris. In the cold and snow, exposed to violence and sexual exploitation. Many of the people who sleep out in Paris are Dublin cases, including many young people who applied for asylum in other countries especially Norway and Denmark and were rejected when they turned 18. Many are from Afghanistan and are at risk to be deported back there if they are returned to the first ‘safe’ country. Often they are deported directly from hotels and temporary accommodation, but nobody warns them. Other main nationalities are Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iraq, some from Pakistan and some from other African countries.
People who sleep out in central Paris have a very hard time, with police constantly harassing them, spraying them with CS gas and forcing them to move, minors included.
The ‘Bulle’, the ‘humanitarian’ camp opened by the mayor of Paris Annie Hidalgo last year where around 400 single adult males are warehoused in very squalid conditions is always full, and it functions as a centre to identify people – but nobody tells them they can be dublined when they enter, usually after queueing all night in the cold. The centre is managed by Emmaus Solidarite’, Utopia 56 who were helping with the Bulle withdrew in protest.

All those who are forced to sleep out rely on volunteers to stay alive. Please donate to
for Paris Refugee Ground Support.


Umpteenth destruction of Puythouck camp: tents, bedding, a kitchen and people’s possessions destroyed under their eyes.

This winter the mayor of Grande-Synthe Damien Careme succeeded into opening a shelter in a disused sport centre, against the will of the government, where some 300 people sleep in very squalid and overcrowded conditions including families, who have separate quarters from single males. At the same time the shelter was opened, Damien Careme had the water cut at Puythouck in order to dissuade people from camping there. However people keep going to the jungle because they don’t find place in the shelter; some have been kicked out, including a 15 years old boy who got involved in an argument and is now sleeping out. There are often tensions as Kurds and Afghans are mixed in the shelter. Some people refuse to be dispersed to temporary accommodation places far from Dunkirk. Recently we were looking for accommodation for a family with a very young daughter, they did not find place in the shelter and refused to move to far away accommodation because they were going to try to pass. They ended up sleeping out, volunteers gave them a tent. Some people put their tents up next to the sports centre, others go to the jungle at Puythouck. There are always dozens of people sleeping out including people who have just arrived. People are pressurized to move to CAO, where they are pressurized to apply for asylum in France. In Grande-Synthe people have less support than in Calais because there are fewer volunteers. Apart from food (provided by RKC and other associations) everything else is in short supply: tents, sleeping bags, water, wood for burning.
Paypal me and I will transfer,
or (for Fleur Ali, volunteer in G-S, and her friends)


In Calais the war on tents and blankets continues unabated, and also here it has not succeeded in preventing the formation of new camps: there were well over 1000 people sleeping out before the last big fights. If it is a war, the people are resisting, even winning: they keep returning to their camps after each destruction, and they are still going to England. I do not know why the associations keep saying there are 800 migrants in Calais, it is a gross underestimate. Over 1000 were eating at the food distributions, and many do not eat there. Hundreds are underage boys. Many left Calais after the big fights, making the numbers given by the Auberge come true. Many went to Paris, just in time to catch the snow. No doubt they will return, if they have not returned already.

I am trying to organize support in Calais on the basis of SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY, horizontal and migrant-led; if people are interested to help organize independent distributions I would like to know, for future reference. I am NOT suggesting independent people just turn up and distribute, as usual local knowledge is essential, and some communication and organization.

There is an urgent appeal for accommodation in citizen’s homes, especially during the cold that is coming, and especially for minors.

Children of Calais. Calais own mass shooting, and other terrifying incidents.

It was an Afghan, smuggler presumably, who opened fire on a crowd of about 30 young Eritreans, wounding 5, 4 in life-threatening conditions, 1 serious. The police are looking for a 37 years old Afghan man, as the shooter has been identified. The victims are all between 16 and 20. It started as an argument between Eritreans and Afghans at a lunchtime food distribution near the hospital . It developed into one of the most terrifying fights in Calais ever, involving pretty much everybody, even those who did not want to fight. Africans got very angry hearing there were Africans in hospital with serious bullet injuries; according to a ‘jungle rumour’ there were 7 dead! Africans started to attack everybody who looks Afghan, or is light skinned, Libyan, Egyptians, Iranians and others were all being attacked. The first fight was at a food distribution near the hospital, the second at the food distribution in rue Verrotieres, the third by night when the Eritreans attacked the Afghans sleeping near the hospital, near where the shooting had happened. Hundreds of people got injured, including many underage boys.The number 22 diffused by the press is the number of people hospitalized, not that of people injured, that is much higher. Many were medicated and dismissed, even people who had leg injuries and could barely walk, never mind run, released to the most dangerous streets with a bit of paracetamol. Many did not even bother going to the hospital. There are hundreds of minors as young as 13 living in such danger in the ‘jungle’. We managed, with great difficulty, to find accommodation for 13 people, including a 13 and a 14 years old Afghan boys who had just arrived, other minors, an injured man, a middle aged man who had to go for an operation. When I was managing an office space in Calais we had 12 Afghan minors  16 or younger sleeping there every night (more when it was colder). I so much miss… being able to provide some protection to people. Unfortunately the citizen’s network in Calais has shrunk, there were 15 citizen’s households offering accommodation to refugees, now are fewer. Opening squats  is not an option: as long as the state of emergency lasts, and they made it permanent, the authorities can close any squat, legal or not legal, at any moment, if there is a’security risk’, there will be always until the local authorities change. Two legal squat in Calais centre were opened, and evicted immediately. I don’t know, to me seems like a waste of time. Maybe elsewhere, but in Calais?

If police don’t shoot them, the mafia will. Only recently a 16 years old Eritrean man lost an eye when a gas grenade was fired in his face, had multiple cranial fractures, his nose was pushed inside his skull and he nearly lost the other eye. The policeman who shot him is being investigated.

When the Dubs amendment was passed the intention for the House of Lords was for 3000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children to be relocated into the UK. When it was passed law they did not specify number. The Home Office pledged to relocate 480 children under the scheme however, as of 23 January, 2018, only 230 children having relocated from Europe to the UK under the provision.
Now the Dubs scheme has re-opened, but the cap is at 260, a ridiculously low number; after, they will close the scheme again.

I saw many people injured, three minors hit on the head, one was saved by two of his African friends who intervened to protect him, still had a ugly gash from some other Africans hitting him. It seems to me the media make up things as they go, the Guardian for instance also blamed the incident on the increase in people after Macron’s visit, 200 people more according to the newspaper. There were well over 200 people arriving after Macron’s visit, the kitchen started making 2700 meals per day, especially minors hoping to go to England, they were disappointed and many left again; a rise in numbers can add to the tensions, but tensions between Afghans and Eritreans have been going for many months and since the Grande-Synthe camp burned down, many Afghans moved to Calais and began displacing the Eritreans near the Secours Catholique day centre, then near the hospital. The ‘humanitarian’ camp at Grande-Synthe burned down after a massive fight between Afghan and Kurdish smugglers involving knives and guns. The recent increase in numbers of people coming to Calais was not the cause of the shooting and  fights, access to parking areas and to the motorway are the cause, and control of territory. Most Africans have little or no money to pay the smugglers, and they are bond to clash with them. There was another shooting in the same area at the end of November. A week before the shooting a 14 years old lost a finger in a fight between Afghans and Africans.

The biggest fight I remember in the big ‘jungle’ was  between Afghans versus Sudanese, soon Africans versus everybody else, and involved pretty much everybody in the camp. Police selectively threw gas grenades at the Africans.

Fights and very big fights, and divisions on the lines of race and ethnicity have always occurred in Calais. The worst year for fights was 2015, due to closure of the border, sudden arrival of thousands of people, and competition over points of passage. That is also the time smugglers became nastier and more violent. When free zones of passage were fenced up. When new gangs set up to control the few free points of passage left. When there were hardly any points of passage left, other than those controlled by increasingly violent smugglers. The closure of the borders strengthens the smugglers networks as people are increasingly depending on them to pass.
It is all too easy to blame ‘the smugglers.’ The problem is the border, open the border and smugglers will disappear immediately. ‘Passeur’ is someone who helps others to pass, it does not define good or bad. Some smugglers I have known were real gentlemen, others are a horror. The tightening of the border seems to favour the emergence of worst type. The UK and French governments have created a bottleneck that gets worst every day, and many people get stuck in it. Including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, who are living in the woods, looked after by smugglers, some of whom are armed and crazy. with police and racists chasing them.