Some more boats, and the shame of Fortress Europe. Italian mayors in revolt

Strong and very participated demonstration in Neaples, 5th January – LET THEM DISEMBARK- OPEN THE HARBOURS / NEVER WITH SALVINI

Two NGOs boat that are still operating in the Mediterranean are being denied access to any port, 49 people on board including children are at sea two weeks after they were first rescued. 49 people held hostages of the European States, to use the same words of Sea watch. Malta has allowed the Sea Watch and the Sea Eye to shelter from a storm but not to disembark their human cargo. A shameful ping-pong game continues, as no nation wants to take responsibility for these people. It is very distressing for them, especially for the children. Neatherlands offered to take some, providing other EU countries step in, and the Italian minister Di Maio offered to take the women and children only , but his colleague Salvini, the Interior minister, refuses to take anybody – and the women and children onboard do not want to be separated from the others. Salvini closed the Italian ports for first, and people resuced had to be taken to other countries, mainly Spain – on whose shores the NGO ship Open Arms disembarked 310 on the 28th December.

Many more people are pushed back to Libya. Several resuce ships have been forced to stop activity, including recently the Aquarius, as no nation would give it a banner.

Demonstrations are being held in Torino, Neaples, Bologna, demanding the opening of the ports and that the migrants stranded at sea can finally land, and protests and solidarity actions continue in several other Italian cities.

The Italian right wing governemnt, de facto headed by Salvini, is meanwhile facing a revolt by mayors over the so called ‘decreto sicurezza’, a new package of restrictive measures against refugees and other migrants that has been ratified by parliament. The decree curtails the right to asylum and erases humanitarian protection, that allowed many who did not qualify for asylum to stay in Italy on a temporary basis. The Salvini decree also attacks the right to housing, and many migrants including families with young children have been evicted from their accommodation and thrown in the streets before Christmas. Drastic cuts not only to accommodation, but to language classes, services, everything that goes towards integration. A particularly controversial point is the lack of access to healthcare provisions for those who have no residence papers, including asylum seekers – healthcare is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, and healthcare provisions are a competence of the presidents of the Regions. The mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, the mayors of Neaples, Florence and a large and growing number of other Italian cities are refusing to implement such measures, as they consider their implementation likely to create a state of illegality. The presidents of some regions have joined the mayors in revolt. The new decree could now be examined by the Court in charge of overseeing the Constitution, as there are claims that the Salvini decree violates the Constitution on some points. Far from providing more ‘security’, as its name promises, the decree creates more insecurity, pushes people to the very margins, stuggling for survival, and leaves them open to exploitation.

The overall number of arrivals by sea has gone down very much, from over 1.000.000 in 2015, nearly 4000 dead or missing, to 116,295 arrivals in 2018, but deaths in proportion have risen very sharply, 2,262 in 2018 as journeys become more dangerous than ever (UNHCR data). People are forced to take longer and more dangerous routes. Arrivals in Italy’s main ports have decreased. Arrivals to Spain have greatly increased, 57,250 according to El Pais, equal to half of the total arrivals. 15,528 people arrived in Greece in 2018. Arrivals on small boats to Lampedusa and Sicily have also increased. This is not vey well known, but the mayor of Lampedusa Martello denounces there are hundreds of such arrivals; total silence from the part of Salvini, otherwise so vocal about boats’ arrivals. Shipwrecks have multiplied, with a peak in June/ July 2018 after the NGOs ships were prevented from operating, resulting in 600 dead in just 4 weeks. There are now three NGOs ships in the Mediterranean, other rescues being made by military ships and commercial vessels.

Particulary dangerous are the Libyan waters. The 17th November a botched rescue by the so called Libyan coastguard left 20 dead. The Sea Watch and other ships were at hand, but it was chosen to call the Libyans, who took back the boat without bothering to collect those who were in the water: some drowned, some were rescued by the Sea Watch. WATCH THE VIDEO

Those fortunate enough not to drown are taken back to hell. The majority of those who arrive from Libya show clear signs of torture, besides the fact they are malnourished and underweight. A young Eritrean man died shortly after arriving, he weighted just 35 kg. About 50% of men have been beaten on the soles of their feet, a torture method known as falaka, that is very painful and leaves them barely able to stand and walk. The vast majority of women and girls are being gang raped in the Libyan camps. The UN have published a series of reports about the widespread use of torutre, rape, abysmal living conditions, overcrowding and lack of medical care. Many people are sold from one criminal group to another and held in unofficial and illegal centres run directly by armed groups or criminal gangs. “Countless migrants and refugees lost their lives during captivity by smugglers, after being shot, tortured to death, or simply left to die from starvation or medical neglect,” the report says. “Across Libya, unidentified bodies of migrants and refugees bearing gunshot wounds, torture marks and burns are frequently uncovered in rubbish bins, dry river beds, farms and the desert.”

The UN keep publishing reports and nothing changes. The UN has said it is not safe to return people to Libya, but they do not seem to act. People keep being sold in the slave markets or tortured to persuade their families to pay a ransom, else they get killed, slowly and in direct over the phone.

An asylum seeker who made it to the UK is taking the government to court over its participation in financing and mantaining the system of concentration camps in Libya, and the terrible human rights violations happening there. In fact the Libyan coastguard and the Libyan detention centres for migrants function with money and resources donated by Italy and Europe. The shameful price of policing the borders of Fortress Europe.


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

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.

View at

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.

Calais border, news after the summit Macron-May

Thursday 25th January black day for Calais. A 16 years old Eritrean teenager very seriously injured, he was shot in the face with a gas grenade : he lost an eye and his nose has gone inside his skull he risks to lose the other eye and has multiple skull fractures: the police arrested his two friends who had gone to the police station to testify, later they were released. The boy was shot during an attack with gas and rubber bullets against refugees who were trying to recuperate their possessions, before the CRS destroy their tents near the place of food distribution in rue Verrotieres. The police destroyed everything under the eyes of refugees and volunteers and lots of gas and rubber bullets were fired to disperse the people. The gas attack and destruction of people’s shelters and belongings involved all the food distribution area, 4migrant people were taken to hospital. The attack can be seen in a video diffused by the Auberge des migrants.

I think Mr Macron should explain this extreme violence from the police who shot the Eritrean 16 years old boy in the face and injured him so terribly. Unbelievable the president of France just praised the behaviour of police in Calais and threatened to prosecute anyone who accuse the police of being violent ‘without a proof’, what proof? the CRS are shooting gas canisters in people’s faces, and what can justify doing that to a kid? Stop this Nazi barbarism. Solidarity action! We need everybody to defend the people who are receiving such terrible injustice. Shame on Macron, shame on the prefect and shame on the CRS. There is a solidarity call out STOP POLICE VIOLENCE 03 February 14.00 in rue Verrotieres, Calais

People are sleeping out in this cold now, when is -0 the authorities open some shelters but now for instance is very cold and it rains but is not -0 or storm and everybody sleeps out. They don’t even have enough blankets because we are just after a big destruction by police. No wonder people are angry, many turn to drinking because they are desperate and who would not drink in such situation, these are people very traumatized. Many new people have arrived after Macron’s visit, some hundreds, dozens of women and many minors, some came because they heard the UK were taking in minors from Calais and where disappointed. There is no place for minors in Calais but two little hostels in St Omer with bad food and not enough bed spaces for all and most kids want to go to UK and come to Calais to try. They sleep in the jungle. A 15 years old from Afghanistan died at the end of 2017, when he was hit by a vehicle. Ways of trying to go UK have became even more dangerous as the border becomes more difficult to cross. But people keep crossing, and it keeps their hope alive.
As usual the press are representing the migrants as ‘the problem’ and speaking of ‘rising tensions between migrants and police’ when in fact the police have been causing all the tension, and all the damage. A few people throwing stones at cops in riot gear in retaliation for the shower of gas does not certainly match the flash balls, gas grenades, rubber coated bullets, truncheons, CS spray and real guns. Who gets badly hurt are the refugees, the policemen get lightly injured sometimes. There is no proportion. A man climbed on one of the pylons and threatened to jump, he has mental health problems. People are exasperated and pushed over the edge of survival.
See also:

Summit Macron – Theresa May on the 18.01.2018: Re-negotiation at Sandhurst of Le Toquet accords (2002, in vigour since 2003, by virtue of which UK border controls moved to French soil). The UK promise 50 million euros (£ 44.5 million) to secure the Calais border in 2018. More money for the French police, for the dogs, the scanners, the CO2 detectors, new walls, electronic surveillance, in sum to close and militarize the border further.
Macron promises to speed up asylum applications and deportations. Refusals and deportations from France have already increased in 2017, and will further increase. The 11th December the French government have announced their new immigration policies. The legal NGO Cimade denounce hardening of the policies and severe restrictions of asylum rights.

The only half good news are that the Dubs scheme is opened again, allowing unaccompanied minors with no family to go leglly to UK, but the details have not been defined and there is not information. The authorites also promised to speed up family reunions, when both France and the UK have been delaying procedures and bringing to a halt the transfers promised – after the destruction of the ‘jungle’ in 2016, the UK promised to take in 3000 kids, took 750 and closed procedures breaking their promise and leaving the others minors stranded. On Monday last, 118 unaccompanied minors were taken by coach from Calais to an improvised accommodation centre in Merlimont, Calais region . The day after more than half of these kids were already leaving on foot towards Calais.

During his visit in Calais, 16.01.2018, Macron promised no new camps will be allowed to form ; there are well over 1000 migrant people sleeping out in Calais alone, including many minors, impossible to do even an approximate count in such situation. They do not even have enough access to WATER, people have been spotted drinking from puddles.

Associations provide water but only for a few hours each day. The toilets in the back were knocked down by strong winds.

Most people in Calais jungles are from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia including many Oromo, Sudan, other African countries , a few Syrians, Egyptians, Kurds, Libyans and Iraqui Arabs. Thousands more people have spread in the region and all around the coast. Near Dunkirk too people camp in the woods, most are Iraqi Kurds including families with young children: their tents are regularly destroyed by police. In Ouisterham near Caen a jungle inhabited by 200 Sudanese have been recently destroyed ; local people have mobilized to shelter the people in their homes, and have organized two 1000 strong demonstrations. There are people sleeping out in Le Havre and as far as Bilbao in the Basque Country. People are sleeping out with the police chasing them, spraying them with CS gas, beating them and destroying their shelters and belongings .

Some of the tents that were destroyed in rue Verrotieres

In Belgium there are people trying to rejoin the UK from Brussels (by Eurostar) . There are no more ferries going to UK from Belgium, though some people go to Belgium to board lorries bound for Calais or Dunkirk. The largest concentration is in Brussels, 600 people at least, they gather in park Maximilien. There is a fantastic citizens’ mobilization, over 300 local people are sheltering migrant people in their homes when police want to arrest them, and their movement is growing! The citizens have formed a human chain of 2500 people around the station when the police announced more raids. The human chain in Brussels

Macron did not extend his visit to the jungle  but met the local authorities, first with the racist mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart. 50 local people waited to meet the president in front of the Town Hall for selfies and autographs, 50 is not a great crowd and that shows how popular Macron is here. Demonstrations are forbidden in Calais under state of emergency: a few people tried to express their dissent against Macron’s anti- immigration policies, but also against his policies against workers, and were arrested or removed from the premises. After the mayor, Macron met with the police, and he praised the police’s actions, clearing them of any wrong doing ; he said that those who accuse the police ‘without proof’ will be prosecuted. A clear green light to more police violence. Volunteers , activists and migrants have been documenting and denouncing routine use of gas and beatings by police, also against people who are just walking, or sleeping, including children and women. A very young unaccompanied boy reports the police opened his tent when he was sleeping and sprayed CS gas inside. Local associations are taking the police to court over repeated destruction of people’s shelters and sleeping bags and they have marked those items as their ‘property’. Human Rights Watch have published a series of reports on Calais human rights violations, here the links to the most recent ones. ALSO IN ENGLISH

Macron then had a meeting with the associations who help the migrants but three major associations, the Auberge des migrants, Utopia 56 and Medicins du Monde, refused to meet him as they do not want to be seen as accomplishes to more repressive measures. They did however collaborate with, and even approve of the destruction of the ‘jungle’ in 2016: what is happening now is the result of that eviction and was totally predictable. So their current stance on government policies is too little, too late, and probably arrives because the associations themselves are under attack. We really lack a platform who can speak up and defend migrants rights in Calais that is migrant-led, nobody but the people involved have a right to speak about their own situation, and nobody knows it better than them.

People living in the jungle are organizing autonomously. On the occasion of Macron’s visit they hung banners in the jungle reading OPEN THE BORDER, ABOLISH DUBLIN and STOP POLICE VIOLENCE . A group of people who sleep in the jungle wrote a collective statement that was endorsed by many, link below. They have set up a blog called Voice of Refugees, Calais. Of course Macron did not meet with the refugees and did not go near the jungle. For the authorities, refugees and other migrants are not subjects, they are objects of increasingly repressive policies. It is institutional racism of the worst kind. Things are very bleak indeed, and will become even bleaker. Nevertheless people are not put off, they keep arriving, they brave the terrible living conditions and the constant violence and threat of violence by police, and they keep going to the UK. They keep strong, incredibly cheerful and positive and the community spirit that unites all is still there and is amazing, but there are also frequent fights between different ethnic groups over access to the motorway, and over territory and scarce resources. Many people become ill, Medicins du Monde who now has a mobile clinic and a doctor report they have never seen such a high percent of sick people and blame the appalling living conditions. There is a lot of alcohol and drug abuse also among minors, especially psychiatric drugs that are sold on the black market and mix very badly with alcohol, drunken fights are a problem.

Over 90 % of merchandise directed to UK pass through Calais, it is the nearest port city to the UK, and there are many ferries and many lorries, only 1 hour 1/2 journey to the UK by ferry ( 2 hours from Dunkirk and 30 hours from Bilbao). People do not stop coming to Calais. A few days after Macron’s visit hundreds new people arrived, including many minors and quite a few women, and they keep arriving. Many come from Belgium to escape the police raids there. There is a new shelter in Calais for women where they are protected but outside it is very dangerous and particularly for women and children, they are more exposed than ever to sexual violence, trafficking and exploitation. Instead there is no shelters for young children (very few) and for unaccompanied minors (very numerous). The jungle is no place for a child : a 14 years boy has lost half a finger for a knife injury sustained during a fight between Africans and Afghans: the doctors had to amputate, and the rest of the hand is badly damaged. There are two shelters for minors but in St Omer not in Calais, bed spaces are totally insufficient but nobody want to stay there anyway, the food is bad and is not halal and there is nothing to do. The youngest kid in the jungle is just 10, he is with his brother. The youngest unaccompanied minor is 13. He was telling me he has seen a man dying when a group of people went on the motorway to stop the traffic, and a lorry did not stop. All he wants is to go to school and play football and cricket. Why does he have to risk his life for that?

Most people who are in the jungles do not go to the centre of Calais any more because every time they walk they are afraid to be arrested and deported, to first ‘safe countries’ under the Dublin 3 agreements, even if they have been refused there, or even to home countries including countries at war such as Afghanistan and Sudan. The local detention centre is full and people are sent also to other centres, and the deportation machine is working faster and faster. People are hiding their nationality to avoid deportation. Macron wants to double the time people can be detained. He wants to speed up asylum application in France, that results in a rise of refusals of asylum applications, and speed up deportations. Macron does not propose any other solutions, and detention and deportations are not solutions: people keep arriving because they need to save their lives, or come back from first safe countries where they had been deported, and numbers of people sleeping rough or in sub-standard accommodation keep going up. It is a hellish crazy nightmare.

In Paris things are particularly nasty, there are at least 1500 refugees sleeping rough with the police chasing them with gas and truncheons, like in Calais, the only difference is that volunteer groups such as Paris Ground Support usually manage to salvage people’s tents, bedding and belongings and wash them. In Calais police slash tents with knives and spray bedding with CS gas, after that it is impossible to wash the stuff and it can only be dumped. VOLUNTEERS IN CALAIS ARE STRUGGLING TO COPE: THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH MATERIALS AND NEVER ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS, PLEASE HELP. In Dunkirk is even worst. Mobile Refugee Support are doing a great job, and have a good emergency response. Refugee Community Kitchen are preparing 2000 to 2700 meals per day, distributed in Calais twice, in Dunkirk once, and in a couple small camps. If you do the maths is 1000 people, more or less, eating at the distributions in Calais, some eat twice but some do not go to the distributions… well over 1000 people present in Calais then. Macron has announced the State will take over food distributions, and bizarrely RCK welcomed the announcement. I see it as an attempt to get rid of the associations, at least those who sometimes oppose the government, and to get rid of independent witnesses. Who controls the food controls the population, and armed police have been already seen at food distributions.
After the UK-France summit and the visit of Macron to Calais, immigration policies reach a new low in inhumanity and irrationality. We must oppose them and defend our brothers and sisters.