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
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!
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.
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.