Archivio mensile:agosto 2016

One more death at Calais border / Clashes over the points of passage and in the ‘jungle’/ A shooting

jungleCalais

A young Sudanese man has died on the night between Monday and Tuesday, as a result of injuries sustained in a fight between Sudanese and Afghans. He was found by the side of the motorway near Marck, and was taken in charge by the emergency services, but he died shortly after 7.00 am. He was the 11th person to die at the Calais border this year, that we know of. A vigil was held in front of Park Richelieu the day after. Other 15 people were injured on the same night in fights on the A16. A fight broke up the following day in the camp. Numerous fights have occurred recently on the A16 between people of different communities, for access to the motorway. The communities held a meeting in the Mosque, where Afghans and Sudanese sat together, and it was decided nobody goes to try for the next two nights, until territorial disputes are discussed peacefully. However on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday another Sudanese man was shot in a leg (luckily he was not seriously injured), near Marquise (between Calais and Boulogne), supposedly by Kurdish smugglers. He managed to escape and shelter at the station Marquise-Rinxent, where the police found him around 3.30 am

http://www.nordlittoral.fr/accueil/un-soudanais-decede-suite-a-une-rixe-a-proximite-de-l-a16-ia0b0n338233

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/migrants-de-calais-un-mort-et-plusieurs-blesses-dans-la-ia33b48581n3692671

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/a16-un-migrant-blesse-par-arme-a-feu-dans-un-nouvel-ia31b49062n3694926

The pressure on the points of passage is incredible, smugglers are controlling most points of passage and fighting  other smugglers, or people who are simply trying to pass without paying. The ‘free’ points of passage are very few, they are closed by tall fences and guarded by very violent police,  and people are so desperate they are fighting each other for access to the motorway – it is unclear if there are gangs or established smugglers networks trying to take control of these ‘free’ crossing points. What is evident is that fights occur on the lines of different nationalities and ethnic groups. It is the effect of closing the border: people run on the motorway in their hundreds, clashing with each other and with the police; putting their lives at risk – we never had so many deaths and injuries at the Calais border; causing  hazard to lorry drivers and passing vehicles – but no lorry driver has died so far! The BBC has captured some of the action. The ‘analysis’ of this BBC journalist is clearly totally baseless, the weapons are actually bits of wood and the people identified as ‘traffickers’ could be anybody!

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-37186868

It is self-evident that the eviction of the South side of the ‘jungle’ has been totally useless in reducing numbers – instead problems in the camp and tensions between communities have greatly increased with the overcrowding, and the place is like a ‘pressure cooker’ as  volunteers from associations aptly put it. It is said everywhere that numbers of people in the ‘jungle’ are higher than ever. I am not sure.  At the end of last summer there were about the same numbers if not more, though no count was made at that time and it is just my impression, and the impression of  volunteers who were giving tents and blankets to newly arrived people: they were saying numbers may have been close to 10.000, same as now; with the difference people arriving now are more numerous than last year, on average…  and now they are crammed in less than 1/3 of the original size of the ‘jungle’. Up to 100 new people arrive per day, which causes no little problems. Demographics have chenged again and the Sudanese are again the most numerous group – until short ago the most numerous were the Afghans. All desperate to get out that horrid place,  trapped by the fence provided by the UK government, hurt by French poolice who use truncheons and gas even on women and children and  fire gas grenades and rubber bullets directly into the crowd, and threatened by smugglers if they stray into their ‘territory’. Smugglers’ networks have been greatly reinforced as a result of the border’s closure, prices have gone up, and the police themselves are saying they never arrested so many smugglers – but they are only catching small fish, not dismantling any networks. Independent and semi-independent smuggles who are generally nice to people and do not ask for too much money tend to be replaced by proper mafia men who are very violent, armed to the teeth with guns, knives and gas, some are known to abuse women and children. Yet the biggest criminals are those who are responsible for this situation, who have been forcing thousands of refugees to live in inhumane conditions  and pushed them into the hands of the mafia: such as bernard cazeneuve, manuel valls, françois hollande, the british government (cameron first and now theresa may), and the european union. What is most worrying and sad is that borders are closing everywhere in europe (this is not Europe as I have known it) and the Calais model is being exported, massively.

See also: https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/fuel/

POST SCRIPTUM:

There are currently over 1600 riot police present in Calais (previoulsly were 1300).

Earlier this year, not long after the eviction of the South side, a large portion of the North side was destroyed by fire in a huge fight that opposed Afghans, Kurds and generally light skinned people against Africans. The police did nothing but throwing gas on the camp from a distance, causing more fire, and they targeted exclusively the Africans. The day after, the (real) community leaders met and brokered the peace, and everybody did their part to prevent further fighting. The Holy month of Ramadan was very peaceful, the Afghans and the Sudanese prayed together in the Mosque. 

The worst fights happened in 2014, following a massive and sudden increase in numbers of people stranded in Calais and competition on the points of passage. The situation seems to be repeating now! I copy below what I wrote at the time, edited for shortness and with link to the full article. All jungles and squats mentioned in the post have been evicted and all people forced to move near the Jules-Ferry centre. 

Since the big and sudden influx of immigrants in 2014 there were high tensions between different communities, problems with alcohol and drunken fights, and fights over scarce resources that could become very violent.  Migrants have been progressively pushed out of town, despite some remarkable resistance, including occupations, protests and a hunger strike. The Jules-Ferry centre seems the ultimate achievement in rendering migrant people invisible, cast out society and exposed to violence by police, racists and others. It is close to smugglers’ territory– not all smugglers are bad but some are, and on the way to lorry parks that have been the theatre of very violent fights, resulting in several people hospitalized. These fights can sometimes continue for days, involve hundreds of people and expand to the camps where people are sleeping. During the year 2014 we had the worst fights ever. Several people were hospitalized with knife wounds, some almost lethal, and broken bones, after big fights of Egyptians, Sudanese and Albanians against Afghans – everybody wants to take the lorry park of the Afghans, that is defended by a gang of violent smugglers armed with guns, knives and CS gas; these smugglers also hurt other Afghans who try to cross, or simply want to sleep in places controlled by them without paying; they are very different from other Afghan smugglers ( from 2009 to 2013), who were mostly nice guys, would defend their territory from other smugglers but caused no problems otherwise, and were kind to their own people. 64 African people were hospitalized after two days of big fights between Sudanese and Eritreans, four in serious condition; these fights originated over the control of another lorry park, when the Sudanese wanted to stop the Eritreans from going there. Three days of battles between Eritreans and Ethiopians ensued after the Eritreans told the Ethiopians not to go any more to a parking they were using: I saw 400 people throwing stones at each other and running after their rivals armed with metal bars, just outside Tioxide jungle; the police managed to break that fight, and I must say they behaved well on that occasion, at least they did not use excessive force. The Eritreans told the Ethiopians to leave Tioxide and destroyed their tents; 50 Ethiopian and Eritrean women, children and some teenage boys went to sleep in the squat Galloo because they were afraid, or in the women’s house. It took time to bring peace between the two communities. More recently, there was a night time attack by Sudanese on innocent Afghans who were sleeping in bois Debruille, and have nothing to do with the smugglers – they moved there precisely to get away from their control. Several tents were slashed with knives including tents where some minors were sleeping. The Afghans reacted and beat the Sudanese up really bad. Afterwards, they brought the casualties to the road for the police and ambulances to collect them: one had a broken leg, another a head wound; one Afghan was also hospitalized, many escaped with minor injuries. The Afghans say they do not like doing things like that, but if attacked they defend themselves. I hope I did not give a bad impression of the Sudanese, most of whom are very nice people, only a minority are crazy.

The authorities know all this has been happening, but they do not care putting people in danger.

The centre Jules-Ferry, far from providing solutions to the refugee crisis in Calais, creates new problems that cannot be solved.
It is absurd to order people to relocate in a new jungle around the centre where they will be ‘tolerated’, as the ground is not suitable for building shelters or pitching tents.
The basic right of people to have some form of decent accommodation, regardless of their immigration status, is violated.
Concentrating too many people of different nationalities and ethnic groups in the same place creates a dangerous situation .
People will be pushed into the hands of smugglers.
There have been already several racist attacks near Jules-Ferry.
There are hunters shooting wild game near the J-F centre, and they do not want the migrants there.

Extractred from https://watchtheborders.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/calais-new-ghetto-new-fences-a-traffic-jam-and-more/

 

Calais. Restaurant owners summoned to court, Wednesday 10th August at Lille tribunal – Support needed

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UPDATE: The judge in Lille rejected the prefecture’s request the restaurants and shops are destroyed. However, they are still not allowed to sell food or other goods and the police have said they will go in the jungle more often, to check that they aren’t. A significant victory nevertheless. Read more: 

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/tribunal-administratif-decision-and-reasons/

This might not seem of much significance to those not involved in local politics, but the attack on the restaurants is the first stage of the eviction of the North side of Calais jungle. Currently, there are well over 9000 people crammed there after the destruction of the South side, including  865  children 78% unaccompanied according to the last census, and new people keep arriving, up to 100 per day. The associations have made a new count and they predict there will be 10.000 people by the end of the month. Trapped behind the fence by very violent police. Inevitably there are high tensions due to overcrowding and competition over scarce resources, resulting in fights both in the camp and for access to the motorway. Far from being an hazard the restaurants and shops provide some safety, besides providing 20% of the food in the camp. The restaurants have water, fire extinguishers and some even water hoses, so if a fire starts anywhere in the jungle they can help putting it down. The restaurants are full of people at all times, who often help stopping fights and attacks. People who have just arrived can go there and wait for their friends, or ask for directions. The restaurants and shops also provide sleeping spaces at night, up to 250 according to a count by volunteers. Since the raids on the restaurants began, queues have became much longer and the camp kitchens are struggling to provide enough food. The centre Jules-Ferry provide up to 3500 meals per day, once per day – they could provide more, and the queue lasts up to 4 hours. There are not enough showers in the J-F centre, nor enough sockets for recharging mobiles. In the restaurants people could recharge mobiles for free, relax, meet friends, watch a film, enjoy a delicious and cheap traditional meal…

 

The refugees selling food and goods accused of causing hazard e.g. fires and trouble to public order.  72 business between restaurants, shops and hamams (showers with barber shops) are threatened  closure and/or demolition and the owners – or those identified as that – threatened to be evicted and the makeshift buildings that host the restaurants destroyed !!! Please come in front of the tribunal and support! 

Legal defence is being organized.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jJoWHesKIQ

See also:

 https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/black-lives-matter-on-the-border-and-in-the-interior-of-countries/

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Patrick Visser-Bourdon (in the centre, wearing glasses, suit and tie) is the temporary head of Calais central police station and in charge of this ‘humanitarian’ operation of stealing food from refugees and children.

On Friday the police descended on the restaurants again, arresting some more people and serving everybody with orders to appear in court, charged with selling food without a licence, not being in line with hygiene and safety regulations and causing hazard and public order problems in the camp, totally outrageous –  no part of the ‘jungle’ is in line with any hygiene and safety regulations, police cause most of the fires by shooting gas grenades on roofs and into shelters that are highly flammable; maybe the authorities who are forcing thousands of innocent refugees to live in that appalling, unsafe and unhygienic slum should be brought to court, not the restaurant and shop owners. Even Sikander from the Kid’s Restaurant has to appear in court, yet they were not selling anything, they were just feeding hungry kids, most of whom are in Calais on their own. According to the association Help Refugees, 608 unaccompanied minors  live in the jungle (latest count), the youngest 8 years old. The cafe provided free 200 meals a day, English and French classes, and asylum advice. It was set up after over 100 underage kids went missing during the eviction of the South part of the jungle, to offer them some protection and keep track of the minors. There is a petition to save the Kid’s Restaurant: https://www.change.org/p/sauvons-le-caf%C3%A9-des-enfants-save-the-kids-cafe

See also https://watchtheborders.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/967/

 

The associations have signed a press release, saying the closure of the restaurants threatens the food security of the camp’s inhabitants, as neither La vie active who manage the centre Jules-Ferry, nor the independent kitchen combined have the capacity to feed all the people – though La vie active could serve more meals, they are currently serving up to 3500 once a day only. Volunteers from the kitchens are saying since the closure of the restaurants the queues are much longer, and they can no longer feed everyone. The centre Jules-Ferry only provides one meal per day for 3500 people at present, the queue lasts up to 4 hours! People do not have enough plugs to charge phones, nor enough showers. The restaurants distributed food covering 20% of the camp’s needs. The camp kitchens 40% : Kitchen in Calais 1000 free meals per day, Belgian Kitchen 1000, Refugee Community Kitchen (Auberge des migrants) 2000, Ashram Kitchen 800, Kid’s Restaurant 200.

Please donate to the kitchens, and also to the restaurants and shops affected. Dozens of people were making a living from the restaurants, in the absence of any other prospect of employment they created their own autonomous activity, making a little living for themselves, sending money to their families, doing a great service to the community and employing other people too! Far from being a risk hazard, the restaurants and shops provided some security, there was someone to look on the streets at all times, many fights and assaults were stopped, and several fires in the camp put down. The businesses were full of people at all time, charging their phone, meeting their friends, sheltering from the rain etc.  Licensed shops are very far, the shanty town being 7 km from the town centre. The restaurants also provided some accommodation at night and were somewhere new people arriving could turn to for help and directions. When the restaurants are closed the streets are dark and empty and there is no one to look out!

 

Paris: call out to solidarity/appel à la solidarité (via la Chapelle en Lutte)

la.chapelleAfter 3 days of roundup of batons, tear gas to stop, search, of OQTF (obligation to leave French territory) (70 to 75 in 3 days) –

After a relentless hunt, come support the refugeEs Saturday 6 August at 15h at JAURES!

We need you !
Support needed in Flanders Avenue against these daily raids …

 

Après 3 jours de rafle, de coup de matraque, de gaz lacrymo, de fouille, d’OQTF (obligation de quitter le territoire français) (entre 70 et 75 en 3 jours)-

Après une traque incessante, venez soutenir les réfugié.e.s SAMEDI 6 AOUT à 15h à JAURES!

Besoin de vous !
Besoin de soutien, avenue de Flandres contre ces rafles quotidiennes…

 

Funeral of Mubarak Ibrahim

IMG_4154The funeral of Mubarak Ibrahim, killed on the motorway by an unidentified vehicle, took place yesterday in Calais North cemetery, Over 200 people attended, mostly from the Sudanese community but also other migrant communities, volunteers from associations, local anti-racists and international activists from the No Borders network.

New report on police violence

Read the full report here:

http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/node/620

The report is based on evidence collected in March. We welcome the report and would like another one, though pessimistic the police will follow any recommendations.

To our knowledge police violence has gone up since, appallingly, especially when people go to try to get on the motorway or Eurostar: it is common practice for the police to move them by spraying them in the eyes, women and children included, and hitting them with truncheons but punitive beatings of people who have been caught are also commonplace.

Particularly worrying is that the police are firing gas grenades and rubber bullets directly at people including underage boys: a 17 years old from Afghanistan was shot in the head and taken to Lille hospital in serious condition, and an Eritrean boy had his eye socket blown off; plus many other horrendous facial injuries, plus injuries to arms, torso, limbs. Two volunteers (other than the volunteer mentioned in this report) were shot at, one hit on the shoulder. It is also commonplace for the police to hit people including women and minors on the head with truncheons, and many have broken fingers and sprained wrists. One man had an arm broken in several pieces and had to undergo an operation, he is still numb and cannot move some of his fingers; it is not clear in his case if it was the police or a paramilitary militia, probably police. Others had broken legs and dislocated ankles as a result of their encounters with police, but there have been at least 5 recent fascist attacks that we know of, they do not behave very differently.

The photos come from an independent medic who was working in the ‘jungle’