Bosnia and the ‘new Balkan route’/ Bihac

Bosnia.map

ITALIAN TRANSLATION BELOW

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 http://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/8951/hrw-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. https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-daily-digest-31-05-2018-two-refugee-children-shot-by-croatian-police-5c3c811e0f07 

 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.

https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-daily-digest-9-6-18-dangerous-fruits-of-the-in-securitisation-195b81efa3ec

View story at Medium.com

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.

 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/08/they-treated-her-like-a-dog-tragedy-of-the-six-year-old-killed-at-croatian-border

 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.

Bihac2

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.

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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 https://www.paypal.me/lorenafornasir

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

IBAN IT95S0501812101000012405106

One Bridge To Idomeni Onlus http://www.onebridgetoidomeni.com/

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

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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” http://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/8951/hrw-bosnia-is-failing-to-protect-asylum-seekers

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. https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-daily-digest-31-05-2018-two-refugee-children-shot-by-croatian-police-5c3c811e0f07

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.

 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/08/they-treated-her-like-a-dog-tragedy-of-the-six-year-old-killed-at-croatian-border

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 https://www.paypal.me/lorenafornasir

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

IBAN IT95S0501812101000012405106

One Bridge To Idomeni Onlus http://www.onebridgetoidomeni.com/

 

 

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.

Annunci

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:

https://www.facebook.com/janbusselenI/videos/10215929826734569/

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.  

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Dunkirk

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Liege

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: goo.gl/cNs8AV 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)

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The 23rd May at least 600 people demonstrated in Brussels, asking for justice for Madwa. https://www.facebook.com/ministerie.van.agitatie/videos/10215925742602615/

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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CALAIS

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.

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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.

https://blogs.mediapart.fr/marche-des-solidarites/blog/230518/manifestation-contre-la-loi-asile-immigration-le-2-juin?

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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:

Money
Tents
Sleeping bags
Blankets
Firewood
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)
Tarpaulin
Dry/ canned food
Pots, pans, camping gas
Small torches
Sim cards and credit (English 3G, English Lyca and French Lyca)
Used / cheap mobile phones
Tissues
Hygiene products

Paris

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 sarahfenby@outlook.com
for Paris Refugee Ground Support.

Dunkirk

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, chiara_lauvergnac@yahoo.co.uk
or https://www.paypal.me/SarahVerheyen (for Fleur Ali, volunteer in G-S, and her friends)

Calais

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.

https://www.facebook.com/AubergeMigrants/videos/10155762046300339/

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 https://www.facebook.com/events/889874634514651/

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: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6dgru7

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. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-france-summit-2018-documents
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. http://www.lacimade.org/asile-immigration-durcissement-assume/

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. https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2017/10/24/france-une-enquete-conclut-des-abus-de-la-police-sur-des-migrants-calais https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2017/12/18/france-larrivee-du-froid-met-les-migrants-de-calais-en-danger
https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2017/12/04/calais-les-travailleurs-humanitaires-sous-pression 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.
https://www.facebook.com/noborders1world/posts/552974685094816

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. https://www.facebook.com/noborders1world/posts/552974685094816 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.

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/to-macron-and-may-take-down-the-border/
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.

Calais: one year after ‘the jungle’

Action to Mark One Year anniversary of the Calais Jungle Demolition

Peter.Marshall

UPDATE Safe Passage for the Children of Calais, London, UK

London, UK. 24th October 2017. A large crowd hold up posters and placards before the Safe Passage rally outside Parliament before lobbying MPs on the anniversary of the destruction of the Calais Jungle. They urge them to provide safe and legal routes for the children in Calais, many of whom are entitled to come here to be reunited with their family and to fill the remaining 280 places allocated under the Dubs law but not yet filled 18 months after Parliament passed the law. They want the Home office to station an official in France to aid with these transfers and to work with the French to proved safe accommodation for all refugee children. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News

Peter Marshall/Alamy Live Newshttps://www.facebook.com/peter.marshall.712/media_set?set=a.10159198166220467.1073742284.785785466&type=3&pnref=story

The UK government let Calais children down by stopping the Dubs scheme before the children who should go to the UK were transferred. They took only 300. Many of the children who were in the ‘jungle’, at least 1000, are still in France, some have crossed ‘illegally’ and at least three have died trying. Many have disappeared and nobody knows where they are.

From ‘jungle’ to dystopia

One year after the eviction of Calais ‘jungle’ people keep arriving in Calais and crossing from there to the UK, surviving in terrible conditions with the police chasing them. People have not ‘returned’, never left, and just a few days after the eviction a group of Afghans passed from Calais to the UK, but for sometimes they were few and invisible. Now they are many hundreds and they are everywhere. Numbers keep going up. Is it worth reminding the eviction was no solution? Calais is still there and over 90% commercial traffic to the UK still passes through Calais. In Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk too, after the ‘humanitarian’ camp was burned down during a fight between Kurdish and Afghan smugglers, people sleep in the woods, often trying to hide in small groups, which leaves them even more exposed to danger of all sorts. 500 – 600 people were in Grande-Synthe, 90% Kurdish people including 15 families with young children; a tiny minority of Afghans, Pakistanis and Iranians and a few Sudanese. The 19th /05 the camp was broken down for the umpteenth time, reports of police violence, and all the families forced on buses to unknown destination. The same thing happened just one month ago, all people were deported to CAO (temporary accommodation places) in South France, border with Spain: in a few days they came back. The authorities are partucularly keen of getting rid of families as pictures of little chldren sleeping in the woods tend to upset the general public.

https://www.facebook.com/MobileRefugeeSupport/photos/a.640458526159762.1073741828.638892649649683/667380590134222/?type=3&theater

In Calais too the 18th /05 the biggest camp was totally destroyed,  tents slashed, blankets and sleeping bags soaked in pepper spray, which renders them totally unusable. A report from a witness:

“So yesterday morning the CRS (riot cops dressed like robocops) came into jungle in Calais (or the biggest jungle..there are two main ones and countless smaller and hidden). What happened was routine. They opened, broke, cut and sprayed all the tents. Any left intact are rendered useless by choking fumes of pepper spray. They also took a 10 yrs old boy from his mother into ‘protective’ custody. Another day on the borders and the banality of border violence that is becoming normalised on both sides of the English channel”.

In the previous week there has been a sharp rise in police raids on the areas where people sleep, destruction of shelters/ blankets/ sleeping bags and personal belongings. Many people are arrested and taken to the detention centre at Coquelles – previously most arrests were of people trying to cross, now they are arresting people in the places where they are sleeping. Several destructions of improvised camps in a few days: the Afghan jungle near the LIDL supermarket at Transmarck, the camps near the hospital. Police violence is at an all-time high, with great use of gas grenades, pepper spray and batons, also against women and children, not only when they try to cross to the UK but also when they sleep, or any time they encounter the police really. French riot police (CRS) who are brutalizing the refugees are paid with money from the UK government, and the gas, and the barbed wire fences that run for miles around the ferry port and Eurostar terminals. In case you wonder where your taxes go. Police are also taking people’s shoes, by the dozens.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=344357759358180&id=100013518766580

The French administration and security forces concluded an investigation indicating that there is “convincing evidence” that police used violence against people and children in the Jungle, Calais.

Human Rights Watch quotes the report reminding that the investigation was initiated in response to their report. The investigation confirmed — what HRW and volunteers from the field claimed – that the police used not only violence but also that they “routinely used chemical sprays on migrants, including children, while they were sleeping and in other circumstances in which they posed no threat, and regularly sprayed or confiscated sleeping bags, blankets, and clothing, apparently to press them to leave the area.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/23/calais-refugees-year-after-razing-of-camp?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

There would be urgent need for witnesses and especially people with cameras, as most of this violence does not get adequately reported. There are activists on the ground doing very good work but not very fond of cameras, some volunteers take pictures but documentation is still scarce. And there is always need of donations, and volunteers to sort and distribute. Calais has gone off the spotlight, the media circus has moved elsewhere, donations have dried up and the need has never been greater, with repeated destructions and cold coming. Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK) are struggling to feed everybody.

Numbers of refugees present in Calais: 800/1000 according to the mayor, 500 according to the prefect and 700/ 800 according to the associations but to make even an approximate count is impossible in the absence of any fixed structure. Refugee Community Kitchen are making 2700 meals per day, distributed twice in Calais once in Dunkirk (there are other associations doing meals there) so it is well over 2000 meals distributed a day in Calais, lunch and supper but not everybody goes to food distributions, i.e. the whole group of the Vietnamese and others, therefore there are well over 1000 people in Calais alone. Afghans are still the majority. Sudanese have made a big comeback after a series of police raids in Belgium, with mass arrests and the threat of deportation to Sudan. There are many Eritreans and Ethiopians including many Oromo who are persecuted in Ethiopia. Fewer minors but more women – around 60- 70, all from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The women sleep together, go to try together and protect each other. 4 families and two single mothers with young children, all accommodated by activists and local people. Other nationalities include Chad, Somalia, Vietnam, Arabs from Iraq and Iran, and lately Libyans escaping the civil war in their country. Many refugees are arriving in Calais from Germany since Germany is no longer so hospitable.

The camp of Norrent-Fontes in the Calais region has been finally evicted and destroyed the 18th September. It was inhabited by all African people: Eritreans, Ethiopians, Sudanese. There were many women Nobody was going to UK from there since the local lorry park had been closed but people still waited there, supported by the local association Terre d’Errance, that unlike other associations are militant, fight for people’s right and believe in equality. A group of people from the camp have found hospitality in a privately owned wood.

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/249480/article/2017-10-20/il-autorise-les-migrants-vivre-dans-son-bois-je-ne-suis-pas-politique-je-fais-ca#

The situation in Calais is likely to become untenable, with many new people arriving numbers rising, some 800 people permanently in Calais, many others coming and going. They sleep near the points of passage and this is causing great competition between people of different nationalities, and big fights with great use of metal bars but also knives and the occasional pistol (plus anything that can function as a weapon, from wooden sticks to stones). Great increase in alcohol and drug abuse, mainly pharmaceutical and psychiatric drugs, cheap on the black market, that mixed with alcohol make people crazy. The amazing solidarity between migrants of different communities that used to characterize Calais and counter-acted the inevitable competition and tensions is at risk to become a memory. People fight for territory and eat in separate places, Afghans at a distribution near the hospital, Eritreans and Ethiopians near the stadium; the only mix distribution attended by different nationalities is in the ‘junge’ rue des Verrotiers; it is also attended by women and families.

The Locale managed by No Borders and other radical associations is the heart of the resistance  – it is a private space in the city centre that belongs to the Communist Party, who let it to No Borders. There people can rest, have a break from the police, use the internet, have free tea and coffee, meet friends. The place is very much liked and very well attended. There are English, French and Arabic classes. There is legal information and signposting, which is most important since most services in Calis have been closed. Volunteer are always needed, even to just to welcome people and make them feel comfortable. There is plenty of room for more initiatives if there are people to run them.

Please donate to help people survive the Winter:

https://www.gofundme.com/calais-winter-fund

The associations have won the right to distribute food and install some showers, after taking the racist Calais authorities to court, twice. 28 showers have been installed of which 14 are working and few, totally insufficient water points. Toilets are yet to be seen. No association, however, is demanding accommodation and the right to housing for all, though they have asked for the minors and the most vulnerable; neither they are complaining strongly enough against the police violence and destruction of humanitarian aid such as tents and blankets.

A year after the eviction and destruction of the shanty town, this is the result. Never forget the main associations in Calais collaborated with the eviction of the ‘jungle’ and their presidents even gave their written approval in an open letter to President Hollande. The English translation is in the footnotes.* What is happening now was totally predictable then, and the eviction of the ‘jungle’ should have been opposed altogether until real solutions were proposed for all the inhabitants.  http://www.secours-catholique.org/sites/scinternet/files/comm_presse/lettre_ouverte_au_president_de_la_republique_29_09_2016.pdf  

The work of distributing humanitarian aid is very important, without aid people would die, and the associations in Calais have done a really impressive job, considering the conditions in which they have been working and the total absence of the State and big NGOs, so please keep donating and volunteering. It is the politics of the associations I have a problem with not the aid distributions. At the moment the only warehouse is that of the Auberge, there is no alternative. The Care4Calais warehouse stopped activity after an arson attack (probably by fascists) but the head of Care4Calais is far less trustworthy than the head of Auberge’s. Clare Moseley made arbitrary accusations to the police against the people running the Kids Restaurant Jungle Book, as a result the Kids restaurant was raided by cops when it was full of kids, and a refugee and a fellow humanitarian worker were arrested, more than outrageous. The entire case against the jungle’s restaurants and shops that were raided by police ahead of the eviction, was largely based on Moseley’s accusations. Apologies for spending so much time on charitable associations, and attacking them from the left when they are already being attacked from the right-wing. The enemy is capitalism and imperialism, causing the ‘refugee crisis’ in the first place, and Fortress Europe, and the governments and their police, but the associations are part of the problem too when they collaborate with government and police in implementing policies that are against the interest of the refugees and migrants concerned, and against their will, like very clearly during the ‘jungle’s eviction, stage 1 and 2. I am not just angry, I’m really sad. What difference will the solidity movement make? What are many volunteers doing besides putting plasters on ever deeper, rotting and mortal wounds? Are volunteers happy to build a cardboard city, without any help or money from the government, just to see it destroyed one year later? The CAO system, where people are so violently pushed, is designed to fail the many; it does not meet the needs of those who do not want to remain in France, and in many cases it does not meet the needs of those who want to remain in France either. Quality of accommodation variates greatly, there are some nice places but mostly the accommodation is bad: cold buildings, no internet, bad furniture, not enough showers and toilets and often not even enough food. One thing all these ‘Centres d’accueil et orientation’ have in common: the orientation is absent, except when there are local associations and volunteers to provide some. In many cases people do not even have access to an interpreter in their own language, never mind legal advice but they are pressurized into making asylum applications in a set time, leading to an increase of refusals, which coupled with a rise in deportations poses a very serious risk to their lives. Particularly the Sudanese have much better chances to be given asylum in UK than in France. Many people are deported to Dublin countries, but when they go to CAO nobody tell them they can be dublined, and in many cases they are purposely misled: as it happened during the jungle’s eviction, the then Interior minister Cazeneuve gave an ‘oral reassurance’ – that was worth nothing, like everything that habitual lier says, but was carried around the camp by volunteers and associations. Some CAO are in or near urban areas but some are in the middle of nowhere and people find themselves isolated, utterly bored, lacking support and a community around, which is very bad for traumatized people. There has been an increase in self-harm especially amongst teenagers, and a minor has killed himself in a CAOMIE, CAO for unaccompanied minors; others have tried to kill themselves but survived. There has been a sequel of hunger strikes and protests in CAO and CAOMIE: against Dublin deportatons, bad living conditions, lack of information and long wait. Drop-out rate from CAO is very high and many, around 40% , prefer to return to the streets: if they leave they are no longer entitled to State support for 2 years, leaving them totally destitute, nevertheless many prefer to take their destiny into their own hands and many return to Calais to try and cross, or try from other places, or try their luck in other countries. The streets of France are full of people who have left CAO, thousands more arrive and end up sleeping in the streets too, exposed to police brutality and other dangers because there are never enough places and the CAO system is always saturated. However it is never too late, the demand for unconditional housing for all should be put forward again, and before people die of cold. At the moment government policies are of zero tolerance for camps and squats in the North of France, but there have been many evictions of migrants squats and Rrom camps in other parts of France, ahead of the trêve hivernale; that is the time during the cold season when evictions are forbidden, it begins the 1st November and ends the 31st March… except that under the state of emergency any camp or squat can be evicted any time (also legal squats) if it is believed to pose a ‘security issue’ – on the say-so of the police, rendering squatting much more difficult and autonomous camps totally unsteady.

The mayor of Grande Synthe Damien Careme is demanding the opening of another camp like that of La Liniere. Mind that humanitarian camp was run by Kurdish mafia, under the blind eyes of the association Afeji that was paid to run it, people lacked the bare essentials and women and children were sleeping with diapers because afraid to be raped if they went out their tiny windowless huts at night. Still better and less dangerous than sleeping in the woods without even a camp and nobody to see what happens. Particularly dangerous is the dispersal of people in small groups.

And the ‘problem’ is not only in Calais and Dunkirk but is all along the coast, in Paris, Brussels etc. What the authorities feared when they destroyed Calais ‘jungle’ has actually happened and people have spread all over the coast: Cherbourg, Le Havre, Dieppe, Caen, as far as Bilbao in the Basque Country, where there is a jungle with some 200 people in it, lots of police repression and a 30 hour journey to UK – there are No Borders activists in Bilbao. There are many people in Brussels trying to go to the UK from there, especially Sudanese, that have been subjected to police sweeps and mass arrests lately; many have been put in detention and a court order is stopping the Belgian government from deporting them back to Sudan but the government has appealed against the court decision. Follow on http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/. All what governments can think of is more repression and more police violence. Deportations in France are also on the increase, also to countries at war such as Sudan and Afghanistan. There is a flurry of deportations of refused asylum seekers to Afghanistan: in the past they were mostly left alone to live in destitution, since without status they cannot get work. There is also resistance, legal challenges, French activists going to the airports, and deportees and passengers refusing to sit down until the person who is to be deported is taken off the plane.  Many more are deported to third ‘safe’ countires under Dublin: these sometimes result in a chain of deportations to the country of origin, e.g. Norway and Finland deport Afghans who have been sent there by France back to Kabul.

Things are changing fast in Europe. A few weeks ago there was a mini-summit hosted by Macron. Leaders from Spain, Germany, 7 African leaders and the “prime minister” of Libya. They have agreed on a new strategy setting up hotspots ( basically detention centres) in Libya to try to stop people crossing the med to Italy.

http://www.infomigrants.net/…/eu-african-leaders-meet-in-pa…

http://www.infomigrants.net/…/migration-summit-offers-prosp…

The sweetener for this deal is €60 million from the EU in “financial aid” with military support to increase border controls.

Macron has announced that “there will be no one on the streets of Paris by Christmas”. There will be increased roundups of anyone who is Dublin who will then be held in detention centres. They will be returned to the country where their fingerprints were first taken.
The next most likely move will be to Norway to be deported back to Afghanistan. As the Norwegian government consider Afghanistan to be a safe country.

The Greek government have recently ruled that is safe to deported Syrians back to Turkey. Even though they are likely to be arrested and put in detention centres as soon as they arrive.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/…/greek-court-deems-turkey-safe…

Libya is completely lawless and basically run by various militias who hold refugees for ransom, sell them into slavery and sex trafficking networks. Minors go missing all the time and generally people are being raped and tortured even murdered at their captors pleasure.

https://www.amnesty.org/…/middle-east-a…/libya/report-libya/

The whole situation is utterly horrific.

 

 

Some images of the Grande-Synthe camp before it was destroyed.

I copy an edited report from an activist who is in Grande-Synthye:

” A new jungle has been established by migrants in Grand Sythne, 20 mins by car west of Dunkirk, close to the camp that was burned down. It’s in an oddly nice location or locations..basically in all the wooded areas in and around a outdoor activities area and picnic area with body of water and canals. It’s still used by locals including kayakers and wind surfers. The zero tolerance policy enforced by the French State since the eviction and destruction of the Calais Jungle almost a year ago has softened a little after they lost court ruling. As a result food distribution is allowed and a water point for drinking and washing has been installed. It’s also used to wash clothes. When the weather is OK lots of guys bath and wash clothes in the canal. The vast majority of people have no shelter beyond bits of plastic and tarp and what cover the trees provide. Every few days the cops come and confiscate any tents or covering they can find, the time varies between 5-10 am, they also count the people so forcefully wake them up, even for children asking for papers they no one has (this is an improvement from every day before the court ruling). There is fight between French State and Grand Sythne Mayor who want’s a new camp with shelters built, the French government want only to build a day centre with showers, just enough to adhere to their obligations under EU law.

 Food distribution happens twice a day, French NGO’s, Salam and Emuas on different days serve food at lunchtime. At 5.30 Refugee Community Kitchen come from l’auberge wharehouse in Calais, the are from UK.

 Clothes and sleeping bag distribution seems to be ad hoc and all deriving from UK via l’Auberge.

 MSF and another NGO Medicines du Monde come a few times a week to provide medical care. Predictably they refuse to do anything outside their remit, such as run people to dental clinic which is in Calais or bring a dentist.

 Dunkirk Women’s Centre come in every day and take one of the smaller car parks as women and kids area. They are three women from UK and brilliant doing anything and everything they can.

 Another small UK group come every day from Calais with generators and for a few hours everyone can charge phones and powerbanks. They are sound and very popular as you’d imagine. They’re the ones who’ve been bringin the tarp which the cops keep confiscating.

 There are no legal or info point or distribution.

 It’s pretty grim..the vast majority are having to try sleep through cold and most nights wet. It’s been raining for the last two hours, going to be a miserable night for everyone there. It’s also pretty shit how forgotten the migrants here are since Calais jungle eviction amid a year or outright nastiness brutality by the French state.

 I’ve been mucking in with the food distribution which has been mostly fun as everyone is in good spirits but for one day when it kicked off in the queue and knives got pulled and the families an away with their kids. I was asked to take the food to them and chocolate for the kids. This led to a rumour I was taking families to UK. A dangerous rumour!

I’m understandably getting asked lots of questions about Dublin rules and asylum process. So been helping people find their country guidance docs on home office website, show the right to remain site and getting them onto fb group that tops their phones up. I did this for a few hours one day with a lot sketchy looking stoney faced guys listening and watching. They now give me a smile when I pass. .it may not be trust but I think at least they know I’m nobody to worry about. I feel much more safe after that.

 Obviously questioning what I am doing here but making lots of friends. Including a few of the families who insist on sharing food with me. I helped some guys doing the beer run on Friday open a fence they where stuck behind, they gave me beer in thanks and they next day were telling everyone the story which brought me a lot of acceptance. Small things but things.

What can be done? (Lot of this is throwing ideas out there for others to consider)

 I think the glaring gap is information and is what people are asking for. With no much collective effort I think translating stuff on Dublin, Detention and country specific info drawn from home office country guidance to give people the info to make best shot at their first interview would be a good thing. It’s something I want to pursue if anyone else thinks the same and has any energy for. Obviously it would be best to put structure in place that others can take up. Welcome to Europe

Vehicles. The most frustrating thing here is not having a van, this is one of France”s three major ports and for miles around there is tons of plastic and tarp that could be skipped/tatted and taken to jungle to replace what the cops take away. There are lots of pallets that need to be collected for firewood and to build shelters. There is the dentist situation still unresolved, a car would solve it. Three guys have bad toothache and the only place they can go is Calais on a Monday and Tuesday but police controls at Calais station rule out going by train. There is a hospital driving team based with l’Auberge but they are already taking 10 people from Calais (the maximum the clinic will take). This and lots of other small important things a car would be real useful for.

As for volunteering with women’s centre. .they are happy to have any women who’d like to come over for a few weeks. They’d be really happy if folk could come even once in a while and do fun activities for the kids. They also reckon some activities for the men to counter the tension’s caused by boredom, trying for lorries unsuccessfully and miserable conditions. Maybe mobile cinema or showing champions league highlights on cinema screen…football is popular!

Paris

Demonstration by refugees and supporters, La Chapelle, Saturday 21st October (photo by Sarah Fenby Dixon)

Unprecedented and always rising numbers of people sleeping out in ever worsening conditions, among police raids and evictions of improvised camps. The ‘humanitarian centre’ at Porte la Chapelle managed by Emmaus is forever saturated. It funcions as funnel to the CAO system, people still queue all night to get in. Living conditions are squalid and people in the centre lack the bare essentials and basic information, e,g. regading Dublin deportations. Utopia56 who were helping inside the centre have recently pulled out because they say they could not work in such conditions, and continue offering essential aid elsewhere. A second similar camp with 50 capacity (single men) has opened in Cergy-Pointoise, Ile de France.

Donations for Paris: https://www.gofundme.com/4dwnptc

 

https://www.gofundme.com/4dwnptc

Notes

  • LETTER   English translation 
    Mr. President of the Republic,

    Last week, Ms Cosse and Mr Cazeneuve met our associations in order to present the plan to dismantle the Calais “jungle” of Calais where thousands of exiles live in pitiful conditions.
    We have informed the ministers that our organisations would support such a plan, and could go along with it, if all the measures to permit the protection and respect to the fundamental human rights of the people are guaranteed. You yourself, when you visited the site, reminded us that the State would find a worthy and effective solution to this humanitarian tragedy.
    However, there remains one unanswered question concerning the dismantlement of the Jungle: it regards the progressive disappearance of all the apparatus created over the last two years and comprises of the Jules Ferry “welcome” day centre and the centre of temporary “welcoming” (CAO)
    We hope that these facilities can continue to provide a humane and dignified solution in this very complex situation where exiles will attempt – regardless of their motivation – to travel to Great Britain from Calais.
    It is our wish that this apparatus remain until a humane and dignified solution can be brought to the very complex situation of exiles who wish to – whatever their motivation – to travel from the United Kingdom from Calais. Otherwise, we would return to exactly the situation that prevailed during the years after the closure of the Sangatte centre, the utter abandonment of hundreds of men, women and children living in the streets, woods and squats of Calais, even more at the mercy of the criminal smuggler networks and dangers of all sorts, both summer and winter.
    Nobody seriously believes that there will be no more attempts to reach the UK. No one seriously believe that this will lead to an overnight decline in migrants heading to Calais. So how to respond in a pragmatic and humane way to this difficult situation? It is on this question which we have worked for years, for a long time without any support from the State, for three years on a difficult road, for three years in a real partnership [with the State] 
    We cannot support or participate a dismantlement project which will annihilate of this the work while it remains useful.
    We demand of you, Mr President, to confirm the maintaining in place of the humanitarian assets of the Jules Ferry Center and the CAP whilst the migrant fluxes towards Calais continue and to make it so that the work of the public authorities with the associations remains a work of confidence and transparency.

    Please accept, Mr. President of the Republic, our highest consideration..

    Véronique Fayet, Présidente Secours Catholique – Caritas France
    Thierry Khun, Président Emmaüs France
    Christian Salomé, Président L’Auberge des Migrants
    Louis Gallois, Président FNARS
    Françoise Sivignon, Présidente MdM
    Paris, 29th September 2016

https://www.amnesty.fr/refugies-et-migrants/petitions/halte-aux-expulsions-vers-lafghanistan

https://medium.com/@AreYouSyrious/ays-daily-digest-05-10-17-number-of-afghans-returned-from-europe-nearly-tripled-fbcf799d44ba

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/european-governments-return-nearly-10000-afghans-to-risk-of-death-and-torture/

http://www.lacimade.org/france-accelere-expulsions-vers-lafghanistan/

https://www.facebook.com/chiara.lauvergnac/posts/10155221497064092

 

 

 

 

 

Police violence does not end with the migrants, all demonstrations are forbidden and a very peaceful gathering for peace was violently interrupted by riot police (CRS) with lots of arrests and broken bones.

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/affrontements-pour-la-paix-a-calais-fighting-for-peace-in-calais/

 

A year after the eviction and destruction of the shanty town, this is the result. Never forget the major associations in Calais collaborated with the eviction of the ‘jungle’ and their presidents even gave their written approval. http://www.secours-catholique.org/sites/scinternet/files/comm_presse/lettre_ouverte_au_president_de_la_republique_29_09_2016.pdf What is happening now was totally predictable then, and the eviction should have been opposed altogether, until real solutions were proposed. 

https://www.change.org/p/prefets-et-maires-de-france-maires-ouvrez-les-nombreux-b%C3%A2timents-publics-vides-pour-loger-les-personnes-sans-abri/fbog/7403396?recruiter=7403396&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=autopublish

 

 

I

Vehicles. The most frustrating thing here is not having a van, this is one of France”s three major ports and for miles around there is tons of plastic and tarp that could be skipped/tatted and taken to jungle to replace what the cops take away. There is the dentist situation still unresolved a car would solve. Three guys have bad toothache and the only place they can go is Calais on a Monday and Tuesday but police control’s at Calais station rule out them going by train. There is a hospital driving team at l’auberge but they are already taking 10 people from Calais (the maximum the clinic will take). This and lots of other small important things a car would be real useful for.
Activities. I told Chiara (not Italian Chiara many of us know) from women’s centre I’d be sending this email and asked what they think would be useful. They’d be really happy if folk could come..even once, once in a while and do fun activities for the kids. They also reckon some activities for the men to counter the tension’s caused by boredom, trying for lorries unsuccessfully and miserable conditions. Maybe mobile cinema or showing champions league highlights on cinema screen..football is popular!
As for volunteering with women’s centre. .they are happy to have any women who’d like to come over for a few weeks. I’ll leave their email for anyone who wants to discuss with them.
Deportations increase, also to countries at war such as Sudan and Afghanistan

After the jungles. Calais, Dunkirk, Paris: many hundreds sleep out without shelter, children included. New report on police violence in Calais.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: THE TOWN HALL TRY TO STOP ALL FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS IN CALAIS JUNGLE except the 6pm distrbution WITH USE OF VIOLENCE AND ARRESTS BY CRS 

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30/06 Police cleared all the area around the place of food distribution rue des Verrotiers, all tents, blankets, tarpaulin destroyed. People however returned and they keep occupying the woods and industrial wastelands where this bizarre non-camp exists. Many are minors.   In the evening there was a shower of gas grenades thrown near the place of food distribution where people had returned, and people had to run for cover.

31/06 CRS stopped the food distribution of Salam about10.20 Philippe Mignonet the helper of the mayor Natacha Bouchart and the young chief of police were present. Police told the associations food and water distributions are no longer allowed but no order was produced. Utopia56 and Calais Refugee Kitchen were also stopped from giving food near the ‘jungle’ and one volunteer arrested – for trying to feed some people: as usual, she was assaulted by cops and accused of assaulting them; however there were many witnesses and the scene has been filmed.   5 or 6 refugees were arrested that I have seen, some got gassed in the eyes or hit with truncheons. It is Ramadan with no food no water. Inhumanity and this is totally illegal as a judge has already ruled associations cannot be stopped from feeding people in the streets. Again, the pretext is security because the police say distributions attract crowds.

Refugees protesting against the police stopping food distributions:

02/06 The illegal ban against food distributions in the jungles is still being implemented with lots of CRS and great display of weaponry, they are also stopping volunteers from giving water, blankets and all aid. Associations are still doing distributions (usually at different hours) when CRS find out they are doing a distribution they arrive and brutally disperse everybody also using CS gas and truncheons on many occasions. Last night 6 people were arrested around 1 am –  three were minors, according to some of the arrested who were later released. Earlier on the same evening police threatened people with a dog -there was a large group including minors and some women who were about to leave to try to go UK. Today after morning distribution 6 people were arrested but one managed to run away. 25 Afghans were arrested on rue Garennes. There are so many arrests it is really difficult to keep track. Very important to keep watching and filming, usually filming is quite easy during distributions but the police may want to see your documents. Blankets are very scarc because the police spray them with CS gas rendering them unusable, associations have no blankets to give. Please donate.

On the night between Friday 02/06 and Saturday 03/06 police go in the jungle, rue Verrotier and bois Debruille, during the night and early in the morning,. many people sprayed with CS gas in their sleep and many people arrested. All day gendarmerie and CRS patrolling the roads and stopping food distributions, gendarmerie vans in the area of food distribution all day preventing people from going there. Volunteers do distributions by stealth, arrive in small cars, give out pre-packed food and bottles of water and leave quickly. The only distribution allowed is the 6 pm, no trouble but gendarmerie stop people from going there until 5.50 pm and fewer people than usual attending.

In Calais, Dunkirk and Paris we are witnessing a succession of evictions concerning thousands of migrant people. The creation of thousands temporary accommodation places in CAO (Centes d’accueil et orientation) spread all across France goes hand in hand with  zero  tolerance policies for camps and squats. CAO are not a solution for everybody and there are never enough places for everybody. Most people who have newly arrived in France, all those who do not find place in CAO end up sleeping rough, as well as those who do not want to stay in CAO  (because they do not want to apply for asylum in France for instance). They are pushed into ever more insecure, dangerous and even life-threatening situations, sleeping in the woods or by the side of the road without even a shelter, women and children included,  condemned to invisibility and exposed to violence by police, racists, smugglers and other criminals. 

Some good news: the 27th April the UK government announced they will take 130 more unaccompanied minors under the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Bill. Transfers under Dubs had been stopped for months on pretext there were not places for the kids by local authorities, a fabrication since many local authorities had offered places and the report according to which there were not places was old and out of date. Though 130 objectively is not many compared to the huge and increasing number of minors arriving in Europe alone, this announce is a life saver for those 130, and further opens the door to the possibility of more transfers. Please keep putting pressure on the UK government. Transfers of children and other vulnerable people under family reunification are also being hindered both by the French and UK authorities: for instance the French bureaucrats do the paperwork so badly that the UK just send the applications back to France and the people are left hanging. 

Please come to Calais if you can and help us monitor the situation! Demonstrations in Calais are forbidden under state of emergency but demonstrations are not forbidden in the UK! (direct action even better).

Please donate here:   https://www.gofundme.com/calais-rain-emergency-fund    All money donated is to buy tarpaulin or goes directly to help migrants with what is most needed and where the associations do not reach. Filling the gaps is something No Borders have always done until recently but I have always found it very difficult to get money from Calais Migrant Solidarity so I am doing my own crowfunding. Some associations i.e. the Auberge des migrants/ Help Refugees stopped giving tents because the police destroy them, saying tents render people more visible therefore more vulnerable to police attacks but it should be the people’s choice if they want to have tents or not. Some associations e.g. the Auberge openly collaborated with the government evicting the ‘jungle’ in October, therefore they cannot be trusted. My anger and frustration is with the management not with the volunteers who are doing a wonderful job. We are already doing independent distributions of tents, tarp and materials and we always need sleeping bags and blankets. And money to buy.

Food donations: Calais Refugee Kitchen prepares 2000 meals per day that are distributed in Calais and Dunkirk by various associations. Please support them (even if they are based with Auberge des migrants) http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com/

 

CALAIS

Destroying people’s shelters does not make them disappear. Seven months after the destruction of Calais ‘jungle’ there are several hundreds of people sleeping out in Calais’s streets, woods and wastelands. Many are unaccompanied minors and there are women too – volunteers and local people try to shelter the women and the youngest children. There is a shelter for minors but in St Omer not in Calais, kids can only stay up to 5 days. Police destroy any tents they find, leaving people to sleep rough with only blankets and sleeping bags that are often damaged or destroyed – for instance police pepper spray blankets rendering them unusable. Police violence is appalling . People, including women and minors, are sprayed in the face, beaten, hit with rubber bullets, have their shoes taken away, are subjected to insults and racist abuse; there are at least two allegations of people deliberately ran over by police cars. Most of the violence happens when people try for England, and police use gas grenades to disperse people but people can be attacked any time they encounter the police, kicked or sprayed in the face when they sleep and so on. Arbitrary and repeated arrests are very common. The Refugee Rights Data Project have recently conducted a research in the Calais area. They denounce the insecurity and danger for people in the absence of a camp or structure. The unaccompanied minors are the most exposed to sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking, according to this research. 89 per cent of people interviewed said they had experienced police violence during their time in Calais.  82 per cent described police treatment in France as “bad” or “very bad”. 84 per cent had experienced tear gas, 53 per cent other forms of physical violence and 28 per cent verbal abuse. Broken limbs, facial injuries and severe bruising were found to be ‘typical injuries’. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugees-calais-northern-france-police-brutality-daily-basis-unaccompanied-minors-children-a7696076.html

Full  report (in French):                                                                          http://refugeerights.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/RRDP_SixMoisPlusTard.pdf

This report is  mostly based on testimonies, hard evidence is needed. The French authorities are in perpetual denial of any wrongdoing by police. And there is violence by fascists and racists, and in some cases by lorry drivers. A young man had an arm broken when a driver pushed him from his lorry. And there is the violence of the border. Three people  have died trying to cross this year, that we know of.

2 May, at Paris’s Gare du Nord, after succeeding to climb onto the Eurostar’s roof an exile was killed by the electric arc from the catenary system above the train.

http://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75010/paris-gare-du-nord-un-migrant-meurt-electrocute-sur-le-toit-d-un-eurostar-02-05-2017-6908805.php

This is the third exile to have died at the border so far this year. On the 21st of January Johnsina was run over on the motorway near Calais. On the 11th of March, another exile died near Dunkirk following an attempt to cross the border.

A 17 years old from Eritrea was in a coma for two weeks, suspended between life and death after being hit by a lorry. He survived but with severe head and facial injuries, was unable to talk or to walk unaided and only able to feed through a tube inserted in his mouth. The local press have just started a migrant-blaming campaign because of a small barricade people made with some  branches to try stop some lorries. One lorry driver was lightly injured and the Nord Littoral run a front page,  2nd and 3rd page, with the dramatic title: End of the Truce – as if it was a war! The Nord Littoral has turned totally racist. I never remember seeing three front pages when somebody died or was maimed for life. But deaths and serious injuries happen only to migrants, who are not treated as humans.

 

 

I probably need to stress, since it is not obvious to everybody, that people are actually being treated in the most abysmal manner, it is not me who is ‘representing them as victims’. People are braving the most appalling violence and surviving the most appalling conditions in their struggle to cross this border, and they are bearing with the most amazing courage and dignity, you see many smiley faces and very little desperation but the situation in Calais is really terrible. We need more political action to challenge this situation.

No more showers. People going to take a shower have been arrested, there is a scabies epidemic, and Secours Catholique, who were providing some showers, had to stop, though they manage to open a day centre.  Local people try provide some showers in their homes, and an American woman started renting some AirBnB, offering people showers, causing a little storm in the racist local press after racist neighbours reported unusual activity to the police.

food.distrib

Food distribution

 

The mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart tried to stop food distributions but her order was overturned by the judge when the charities took the mayor to court: there is no law that stops charities feeding hungry people. The mayor has appealed against the sentence but in the meantime distributions continue. Police are however disturbing food distributions in the jungle: they arrive at 7 pm and herd everybody in the woods under threat of violence and CS gas; anybody who has no papers can be arrested. At 7 pm people are still eating or getting blankets or playing football with their friends but they have to run and hide in the woods like hunted animals. Volunteers are also controlled, harassed and intimidated. This video taken by a volunteer shows the violent arrest of a minor (minors are not supposed to be arrested)  https://www.facebook.com/lucie.favry/videos/10212790256256282/

end.food.disrib

End of food distribution

 

Police have stopped food distributions near the train station altogether, saying they cause a security hazard by drawing crowds near the station. No written order was ever produced. Volunteers giving food and tea near the station were also able to monitor arrests, and provide some support, advice and information to people who just arrived.

Food distributions near the park or in other places in the city are being disturbed by police too. It is so lovely to see the parks full of migrant people again, after many months of total segregation in the ‘jungle’. Young Africans play football with local kids, young mothers disturb the Afghan cricket by passing in the middle with babies and prams –  they are clearly not afraid, elderly residents play boules next to the migrants… and people make friends, meet girlfriends, sometimes have babies, it is how integration begins. Police, however, have carried out some raids in the parks too, asking everybody for papers and arresting those without papers. Some African teenagers were sprayed in the face and told to go to the jungle. Local people and volunteers keep watch: many Calais people also hate the police and like the migrants. But police keep going there. The 25/05 there were lots of arrests in Park St Pierre. The day after police returned but they found nobody except people with papers, happily sitting around, chatting or playing cricket. The police, some big bullies armed with gas, looked baffled. All those without papers had disappeared, and returned to the park later…

However things are getting worst. A new order has been produced forbidding everybody to sit or lay on the grass, eating in the parks, sleeping on benches.  New security has been hired and we are expecting repression to rise in the next weeks.

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Happy hours: Afghans playing cricket in the park

How many migrants in Calais? It is a guess. 350 according to the police, between 400 and 600 according to some associations, 800  according to others but with so many people coming and going and hiding it is totally impossible to make a count. I personally think there are more than 800 people. Refugee Calais Kitchen (RCK) prepare 1300 meals per day but the meals are distributed in various places and not all at once: some people eat twice, others do not eat from the kitchen but rely on friends or on their own resources. Most people are from Afghanistan, the Eritreans who dominated the Calais scene for a while are still numerous but fewer, there are very few Sudanese, there are quite many Ethiopians including many Oromo, few Kurds, Arabs and others. Lots of tensions and fights, also big ones, usually on the lines of different ethnic groups. Access to the ex-jungle that was razed in October is forbidden  and large swathes of the Dunes are off-limits now because  of the extension of the ferry port that is underway. There are too many people crammed in a relatively small area. They are competing for territory and for the few points of passage, any lorry park, any junction or petrol station – very ugly scenes when the police arrive and disperse them with gas and truncheons. Alcohol and frustration add to the problem. The facebook page of the fascistic militias Calaisiens en colere has been taken down recently but they are still active hunting migrants and passing information to the police. The Voix du Nord published an article with a map of where most people sleep, in case anyone did not know, indicating that migrants are a problem for businesses and local people – no voice given to the migrants, they are not humans, they are just a problem.  http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/166504/article/2017-05-22/quatre-lieux-de-calais-ou-les-migrants-se-regroupent-et-s-abritent# People who sleep in the parks or in other places are not counted in the article.

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Police operation 25/05: some tents were destroyed and an African man allegedly ran over by a police vehicle on this spot

 

GRANDE SYNTHE (DUNKIRK)

A makeshift camp at Poithouk (a very Flemish word meaning ‘pond’),  near Grande-Synthe, was evicted on the 19/05.  About 250 people including many families with young children slept there. The majority are Kurds from Northern Iraq but there are also many Afghans. https://www.facebook.com/adrian.torres.71868964/posts/10158815083145061?pnref=story

People returned, sleeping without tents and without shelters.  On 24/05 police returned to the camp at 7 am, ordered everybody to leave and destroyed the only shelter, a very tiny shelter where two girls aged 3 and 6 slept. People went to sleep on the side of the motorway or hiding in the bushes Most families (15) who were there had been moved forcibly to a CAO in Lille but new families keep arriving. Children end up sleeping in the woods with no shelter.

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After being moved by police people rest by the side of the motorway, in the middle a family with two little girls. Others have gone to hide in the bushes

A video worth a thousand words: https://www.facebook.com/solidarityforall.be/videos/1849873178607175/  living conditions  are in the middle section of the film.

 

A camp of 300 people not willing to disperse was evicted and destructed shortly after the demise of the official camp.

http://www.lepharedunkerquois.fr/fait-divers/grande-synthe-300-refugies-dans-un-camp-sauvage-photos-ia685b0n205669

The ‘humanitarian’ camp of la Linière (Grande Synthe) was burned to the ground during a fight between Kurdish and Afghans. The ‘official’ camp was obtained by the mayor of Grande Synthe Damien Careme – the government  did not want any camp in the area, and represented a more humane alternative to an informal camp at Grande-Synthe’s Basroch neighbourhood, where thousands of people including families camped in the mud, with rats running about, with a half a dozen showers and a dozen chemical toilets. In the new camp there were plenty of showers and flushing toilets; pity women and children were raped in the showers and the women’s toilets were built next to the men’s and had no keys. Volunteers from the Women’s centre started putting locks on the toilets and employees from Afeji tried to stop them. What were smugglers doing in an official humanitarian camp is another question but effectively the camp was run by Kurdish mafia and the mafia in Grande-Synthe have always been the craziest and the most dangerous.  The association Afeji who replaced Utopia56 in the management of the camp did a thoroughly bad job,  they had absolutely no experience but got a lucrative contract in the refugees business – like the association La vie active who managed the Jules-Ferry centre and the containers camp and had never worked in Calais before. The main mistake, however, was to amass all the people in Grande Synthe.  Women and children could not go out their tiny huts at night for fear of being raped. Rather than demanding more security and that women and children are separated from single adult men, as by all child protection rules, charities like Gynecologie Sans Frontieres started distributing diapers for the women and children to wear at night so they did not have to go out to use the toilets. I really do not know what would be the ‘international standards’ by which this camp was supposedly built: the wooden huts were very small, windowless and not waterproofed, most huts were rotting with mold; fire regulations were not respected and the huts were too near to each other.  I cannot understand how Medicins Sans Frontieres, who do such amazing work in other places, did such a  bad job in Dunkirk with the construction of that camp. At least in Calais ‘jungle’ huts were nice and covered with tarpaulin, that could also be painted over with beautiful graffiti, huts were built where the jungle’s residents wanted them, not on endless rows of huts with numbers, people could sleep where they choose and next to their friends and so protect each other, and there were mosques, churches, restaurants, shops and even clubs and a cinema… In Grande-Synthe’s Linière Muslims  prayed in the open air and there were no places for social life, apart from the communal kitchens, where people ended up sleeping, head to feet and on top of each other, on the tables, under the tables, on the floors, wherever they could squeeze in because the administration wanted to reduce numbers so some huts were removed and no new huts were built. Calais ‘jungle’  was pretty shit, but still better and a bit less dangerous than the ‘official’ camp at Grande Synthe. That was really made of the stuff of nightmares, but still better than everybody sleeping rough in the woods here and there and everywhere with police chasing them. And nobody to see what happens to them!

Adieu la Linière:

On the 10th April there was a big fight in the ‘humanitarian ‘ camp  between Afghans and Kurds that started on  around 6 pm, with stones being thrown and men running after each other with knives. Children were terrified and screaming, parents desperate to get them out the camp. By 8 pm most people were outside the camp. At 9 pm gunfire was heard inside the camp and fires started: first burned  the first of  three communal kitchens  where Afghans slept, and where the 6 pm fight had started. The Afghans retaliated and there were molotov cocktails flying everywhere and the entire camp started burning. Police did nothing except throwing  gas grenades that notoriously cause fires too.  By 10 pm 80% of the camp had gone up in smoke and everything was quiet again. Many people lost everything. It seems that the origin of the big fight was tensions and rivalry between Kurdish and Afghan mafia inside the camp.  Shortly before the fight that destroyed the ‘humanitarian’ camp there was another fight between Afghan and Kurdish smugglers for the control of a certain lorry park.

Video taken by some of the camp’s residents:  https://www.facebook.com/chiara.lauvergnac/videos/10154831564969092/

People were moved to shelters improvised in crammed sports halls, except most Afghans, including many unaccompanied minors, spent the first night in the woods hiding from the Kurdish mafia who had threatened to kill them and they have many guns. It was cold and they did not have blankets but the day after most Afghans turned up in the shelters. – there were shelters especially for Afghans who had to separate from other nationalities. The Kurdish families did not want to stay in the sports hall, they went and sat with their children  in front of the riot police who were stopping access to the camp demanding to  re-enter because the overcrowding in the sports hall was extreme and they had no privacy at all . They were not allowed in. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/12/riot-police-stop-refugees-returning-to-dunkirk-camp-destroyed-by-fire  The article is quite imprecise but the pics are very very interesting.

 1200 people were later transferred to CAO by coaches, dispersed across France. There were over 1600 people in the camp. Some of the unaccompanied minors who were in the camp went to shelters but others disappeared. There were at least 120 minors according to the children’s services and the Dunkirk Legal Centre. Many of the people who were sent to CAO have  left  already and have returned to Calais or Dunkirk to try pass to England.  The authorities announced there will be no more official camp in the Dunkirk area.

https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/fire-at-the-grand-synthe-camp-minors-have-been-abandoned/

UNICEF ‘concerned’ about the minors evicted from the official camp, reports of violence and exploitation http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/child-refugees-migrants-dunkirk-calais-france-unicef-people-trafficking-smugglers-a7689051.html /but not ‘concerned’ enough to do anything about it, they are not even here, like the UNHCR, the Red Cross and all big NGOs, all absent from Calais, Dunkirk etc.

 

NORRENT-FONTES AND OTHER CAMPS AND SQUATS THREATENED WITH EVICTION

Norrent-Fontes (Isebergues) is also threatened with eviction. The camp has existed for over 20 years and is hosting about 70 people mostly from Eritrea including many women. The association Terre d’Errance provides help to the camp and not only in terms of blankets and food: people are also supported in terms of accessing services and defending their rights. Terre d’Errance have written a letter to the new President of France asking not to destroy the camp until real solutions are found. The letter is signed by other associations too. Steenvorde (Hazebrouk) camp, also in the region, has been destroyed again and again but people keep returning – good news has it that over 20 people have recently passed to England from there. Similarly, people keep returning to Calais and Dunkirk without even a tent to sleep in.

Elsewhere, at least fifteen camps and squats are threatened with
destruction and several hundred men, women and children
fear eviction: in Champs sur Marne, more than 90 people
are targeted by a  scheduled eviction .                                                                                                     In Choisy Le Roi, 80 people are threatened with eviction.
In Sucy en Brie, 30 people are threatened with eviction.
In Alfortville 15 people could be evicted at the end of
the school year.
In Rungis, an eviction of 180 to 200 people has been announced for the
end of school year.
In Evry, 80 families are threatened with eviction.
In Osny, a hostel of 11 people and another of 4 people, all citizens of the European Union could be evicted.
In Triel sur Seine, 42 families are afraid of being evicted.
In Villeneuve Saint Georges the Town Hall have  issued an
eviction order that concerns about a hundred people.
In Aix, Arles, St Denis, Lille and Ronchin, evictions are also announced.

Source: Terre d’Errance, Norrent Fontes

 

PARIS LATEST EVICTIONS

1600 people were evicted on the 12th May, kicked out early morning from their tents at porte de la Chapelle under threat of violence by numerous riot police and put into buses for CAO. All tents and bedding were destroyed.

Photos and report of the eviction:

thttps://www.facebooe com/rose.lecat/media_set?set=a.10155343680986602.1073741919.626931601&type=3&pnref=story

See also: https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/eviction-of-porte-de-la-chapelle-camps-when-insufficiency-calls-for-violence/

But people keep arriving. The official ‘humanitarian’ camp opened by the ‘socialist’ mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (400 places) absorbs only a minority of the numerous refugees who arrive in Paris. People queue all night to get in. Often they still are told there is no place and to come back the day after. Very ugly scenes every morning when people who have been queuing all night and are told to go away try to enter anyway and are attacked by police, watch the video:   https://www.facebook.com/edu.granados.9/posts/1442504379171264

In the ‘humaitarian’ camp they sleep in containers inside a squalid disused hangar, behind the absurdly bright bubble that is at the entrance. Clothes and facilities are minimal, really there isn’t much. The humanitarian camp functions as sorting place for people towards CAO. People are not given the correct information, for instance they are not told that if they have fingerprints in Dublin countries they can be deported there.  The camp is run by Emmaus, Utopia56 helping. Many more people sleep outside, in many different places but the highest concentration is at porte de la Chapelle. Police destroy tents and blankets. The Town Hall  even put stones to prevent people  from sleeping – the stones were cut and removed by citizens in solidarity with refugees. Like in Calais and Dunkirk people sleep out in Paris with only blankets and sleeping bags, exposed to police violence, exposed to arrests and police destroy blankets too.  The official camp only takes adult men. The promised camp for women and children never saw the light. Many women and children are accommodated by volunteers and concerned citizens, at at their own expenses, the French State does not put a penny. The 115 number for emergency accommodation is always full. The Red Cross, who run some services for minors, keep refusing accommodation to all minors who cannot prove their age. Bed spaces moreover are totally insufficient. Many minors end up sleeping out.

DEMONSTRATION 2nd June

https://www.facebook.com/events/715311468648525/

Solidarité migrants Wilson's photo.

Rassemblement le 2 juin Porte de la Chapelle

 

What’s wrong with CAO?

Dispersing people in temporary accommodation simply is not working, not for all anyway, not for all the new people who arrive and do not find a place, not for all the people with Dublin fingerprints, who can be deported back there but often are not told that or they are lied to, there are protests and hungers strikes in CAO  against deportations. Living conditions vary very much and some CAO are nice others are truly horrible. CAO stands for Centre d’Accueil et Orientation but in fact the orientation is absent, except where there are local associations and volunteers to provide it. No information, not enough interpreters, no much chance to make a good application for asylum leading to a larger number of deportations. Dispersion and making people invisible. CAO are not detention centres and not close camps, people can come and go as they wish and they can leave any time but if they leave  they are not entitled to any State support for two years. They can stay unconditionally for about 2 months but after the only solution on offer is to apply for asylum in France. Not all people want to apply for asylum in France and many want to go to England or other countries.  There are ever increasing numbers of people sleeping in the streets or in the woods, in Calais, Paris, Dunkirk etc, in ever worsening and more life-threatening conditions: people who have just arrived and people who are leaving CAO because it does provide a solution for them.

What is wrong with associations?

The associations  are not challenging the very politics that lead to this appalling state of affairs; quite the opposite, there is often collaboration of associations with government, even in implementing policies that are not in the best interest of the migrants  and against their will. The issue is an old one, most associations seem to have double loyalties: to the institutions and to the people they are supposed to be helping. Only, the collaboration and written approval of the destruction of Calais ‘jungle’and dispersal of people to CAO by the presidents of Secours Catholique, Auberge des migrants, Emmaus, Medicins du Monde and FNARS seems to open a new era of open collaboration of charities and NGOs with the French State. I do not feel I can trust them after that and I do not understand how can anybody trust them or want to work with them.  They are often not very capable of managing anything more complex than aid distributions, such as court cases and political matters in general. (I am not saying out of spite or anger, I am saying because it is what I really and truly think). Most associations (the Auberge for instance)  claim to be non-political  but they do not limit themselves to giving blankets, instead they meddle with politics an awful lot.  I really think we need a new network of volunteers, activists and associations who are not inclined to collaborate with police and government and can be trusted by the migrants. And above all we need political action, solidarity means fighting the border regime not just giving humanitarian aid – though that is also vitally important, nobody can survive without food or blankets or walk without shoes, and is important in what way aid is given. Solidarity not charity! I am afraid the governments are going towards a final solution Nazi style, war and genocide are of their making, you see how many people are dying in the Mediterranean, the EU States do not care as long as they can get away with letting people drown;  people are pushed in the woods without means of survival, like in France, or are put into State camps where they would die of cold and starvation , like in Greece: 13 people died last winter in camps that had not been equipped for the winter but they would have died by the hundreds if it was not for the independent volunteers. People are deported back to countries at war, the UK and other Northern countries are sending people to their deaths, and Europe is preparing to deport many thousands more. Then how would you expect the same imperialists who are causing or fuelling wars worldwide to be kind to people when they come to Europe as refugees?  It is politics, the refugee crisis is not an humanitarian crisis, it is the result of politics. Giving blankets and food can keep people alive,  maybe not even that as living conditions deteriorate further and become increasingly life threatening, but what   future for the people? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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