Archivio mensile:gennaio 2017

Return to Calais – Fascist attacks and police repression

There are currently hundreds of people who have returned to Calais, trying to cross to the UK. The majority are from Eritrea and Ethiopia but there are also Sudanese and Afghans, underage or very young, as police cannot arrest minors and put them in deportation centres.  Adults instead are not just arrested and released, like often in the past, they are put in detention, where they can  apply for asylum in France under threat of deportation, or be sent back to Dublin countries if they have fingerprints there. The deportation centre in Coquelles is always full and people are also dispatched to other centres. There is a very good group of Calais based activists who support people in detention. Few women and young children are sheltered by local people. Some minors have been put in structures for minors but the majority are sleeping out, hiding from the police and the fascists who are chasing them. The Calaisisens en colere are looking for migrants and taking photos and film, and telling the police where people are.  There are reports of a fascist attack at a roundabout with kids and young people beaten up. People are pushed further into hiding and condemned to invisibility.

Sorry for sharing this fascists shit, it to show what they are up to.

Care4Calais and Utopia56 have been providing essential aid such as sleeping bags and food. A food distribution by Utopia was interrupted by police, the kids who went to the distribution ran, the volunteers were identified by police and told they are not welcome. The French government’s policy in Calais is still zero tolerance, no camps no squats, no essential services such as food distributions, not even a shelter for the extreme cold. A 16 years old was treated in hospital for hypothermia, that we know of. Ministers held a meeting on Monday to announce new projects for Calais migrants. Despite the promise made by Bernard cazeneuve in November and the evidence of continued arrivals, the only government announcements were of the opening of a new CAO (Welcome and Orientation Centre) in the Pas-de-Calais (but not in the vicinity of the city of Calais ); the freeing up of some places in the CAO of Arras , and the increase of patrols by the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) to convince Africans and Afghans to give up their dreams of Britain. Migrants never left, there have always been migrants sleeping in the Calais area though after the eviction they may not have numbered more than a few dozens. The associations estimate there are between 400 and 600 migrants in Calais at the end of January,  30 new people are estimated to arrive every day and the associations’ numbers are always conservative; so there are really lots of people, probably more than  the associations estimate, and numbers keep going up.

If the kids do not give up we should not give up either! Calais is not finished, there are hundreds of stubborn migrants who have refused ‘la main tendue’ of the French government and still want to go to England.

Many of the migrant kids are new, they have never been in Calais before. Some are returning after being evicted from the ‘jungle’ and let down by the UK and French authorities. Only 860 were allowed in the UK of the 1,952 present in Calais during the evicition and the British authorities have officially closed procedures in December. In addition to those who have already left the CAOMIE (Welcome and Orientation Centre for isolated minors) there could be another 1000+ minors in the streets of France as these centres for minors officially close the 31st January without clear plans for afterwards.

One of the Oromo kids who were sleeping near the Jules Ferry centre has died after returning to Calais, while trying to cross, crushed by several lorries early morning the 21st January. His name was John Sina. On Saturday, December 24, a 17-year-old  died of his injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital after a fall, presumably from a truck, during an attempt to cross near the ferry terminal in the port of Dunkirk. A 14-year-old boy from Afghanistan died late September after falling from a lorry, hit by a passing vehicle. He had  legal right to family reunion in the UK and was in the process but could not wait- he had a brother and two uncles living in the UK.  More recent deaths at the border:


After every death there is a vigil in Calais centre, in front of Park Richelieu. At the vigil for John some 40 local people turned up, some never seen before at pro-migrants events. Note that all demonstrations in Calais are forbidden, including vigils for the dead: a local activists was given 3 months suspended sentence for attending an ‘illegal demonstration’, after being arrested at a vigil! The solidarity movement in Calais is growing, not only the fascists: increasingly people are taking sides with the migrants, offer support in various ways, some shelter people in their own homes for a few days or a few weeks. For which they risk arrest and going to court for delit de solidarite! These people need support too, for paying court costs but also food costs, water and electricity bills increase when there are more people under one roof, and some people are unemployed, low waged or pensioners.

tree.jpgThe Tree of Wisdom at the squat Galloo, evicted in 2015

May be a difficult situation but is not new. In 2009 the French government destroyed all jungles and squats. In 2011 there were lots new arrivals and new occupations. In 2012 all new camps and squats were destroyed, leaving some 200 people sleeping rough, a very low number compared to 2011. In 2013 numbers went up again and new camps were created, a new wave of evictions followed; there were lots of new occupations and migrants struggles in 2014… Repression and destruction of camps do not stop people from coming. What is different now is that there are many more migrants coming to Europe and many more minors , and therefore to Calais, than ever before : the destruction of the shanty town near the Jules Ferry centre cannot stop them from coming. Not even essential services such as food distributions are allowed now – this is inhumane and we should campaign against. There is more police repression and the police have never been so violent; the state of emergency keeps getting renewed every 6 months; and the police work hand in glove with fascists such as the Calaisiens en colere. These distance themselves from neo-Nazis like the Sauvons Calais, claiming they are just concerned citizens and not fascists, unlike the Nazis they have no links to Hitler and historical fascism but they have gone closer and closer to the far right and their methods do not differ much. That is why I call them fascists. Their base is much larger than the traditional Nazis’, who unfortunately are still present and active. The Calaisiens en colere obey the police and the authorities, in which they also differ from the Nazis, who defy the established authority and claim some ‘revolutionary’ status. We need to go organized in order to stay safe.

The big freeze – Paris. Police destroying tents and taking blankets from people sleeping out in sub-zero temperatures


From Paris Refugee Ground Support,17/01/2017 :

The police had taken all of the bedding (provided by us and other aid groups) from a slightly sheltered sleeping area and put it out in rain…

Please give what you can so that we can purchase waterproof Bivvy bags and keep up with the French authorities’ destruction –

As the temperatures plummet at – 7 at night, the situation is getting very tough in Paris where many thousands refugees and other migrants are stranded. Several hundreds are sleeping in the streets, and the plan for the extreme cold does not seem to be working for all. No place to go during the day either, for most! They are out in the cold all day. The situation at the official camp is getting chaotic: people who have been in the queue all night hoping to get registered and get in the camp start pushing when they are  refused access because the number has been reached (50 new people per day only), and are repressed by police, who are using gas and truncheons.



A camp of about 30 people was  evicted  the 9 /01/2017 – French groups had attempted to set up another camp on rue Pajol. It was quickly and violently torn down by the authorities.

Trigger Warning: The beginning of this video is not pleasant.

Another eviction 2nd  January 2017 – report by Paris Refugee Ground Support

Around 9pm a huge CRS riot police force (at least twelve vans) evicted about 150 people who were sleeping under a bridge near the Porte De La Chapelle centre.

They marched people out of the area (it was -4 degrees that night) and prevented them from taking any bedding with them. We were stopped by the police when we tried to recover much-needed blankets. Following this the police followed us to our storage area and towed our van twice within the next thirty hours.

So people aren’t allowed to sleep in a tent and they’re not allowed to sleep under a bridge. Where are they supposed to go?


Interview with volunteer Danica Jurisic in Paris

How is the weather?

– A bit of snow, very cold, temperature goes to -7 , wind, rain, humidity. That is Paris this winter. Nights are very tough. 

How are the volunteers coping, and what is most needed?

-Volunteers are there to keep people alive, that is all we do. We give out blankets, sleeping bags, toiletries, some clothes, shoes, the basic. We pay for the hotels when they get kicked out in the street. Those needs are constant, never-ending, as are the needs of refugees. Until the government changes its policy and starts dealing in more humane and efficient way, we will keep doing this. Volunteers provide much needed support, it has enormous psychological and emotional effect. Just being there for them, just your presence and will to help reflects in many ways.

How many migrants in Paris and how many sleeping out?
-There are 400 migrants in the official camp and more are sleeping outside it but total numbers are much higher. People sleep in metro stations, all over the city, in hidden places, in squats, and it is difficult to find them all,  Paris is a big place.
Volunteers are the ones who are opening their doors to the refugees, everyone who has a room to spare is giving it to refugees. I know a woman who is hosting 6 refused minors in her living room, just to keep them out of cold until the lawyers do their work and get them in a project for minors. This type of emergencies is very common, people who have rights to some help, who are recognized refugees, or should be recognized,  often find themselves on  the streets, sometimes expelled from the centers because of administration’s errors, sometimes because of slow response of the authorities. In every case – not by their own fault.



How many women, families?

-A lot. Not very visible on the streets, because we – volunteers – are keeping them indoors. We spent thousands of euros last year on hotels just to keep families with small children and the most vulnerable ones away from the streets. 
The emergency housing for SDF (homeless) and Refugees can be reached on phone  115 – but it is saturated!! You can’t get anyone to pick up the phone on the other side. There is CAFDA, a center for the families and that kind of works, but is also a lottery to get in. Sometimes, even when they are taken in the centers, families are thrown out – back on the street if
 a certain document is not given and re-given  by organisations and social services. So, the family goes back on street, we place them in hotel for a night – or two if it is a weekend and than – back to CAFDA. Sometimes they are not placed in centers but in cheep hotels that have a kind of a contract with the state – they rent them rooms at very low prices and the government pay for it, so they keep them in business. Families have a priority when it comes to housing. 

How are the unaccompanied minors are in Paris supported and accommodated?

-The painful spot in this all crisis –  minors. I have met many, and I have followed the process they have been put trough. There is a section of Red Cross that is called DEMI and they are in charge of the unaccompanied immigrant minors. That means everybody, refugees, “illegal” immigrants, kids with some kind of paper but no parents.
They are all under one roof in Paris, at Belville area, until their situation is “sorted”.
But there is a catch. If they do not have  a document with specified and clear date of birth, that can be used as a proof of their age, they will not be accepted. So we have a bunch of them, without any papers, obviously underage, left outside on the streets. Again many  are put hotels thanks to volunteers and associations but there are still minors sleeping in the streets. There are organisations like TIMMY and ADJA who are helping those kids, who are advocating for them, but there are still many who – while waiting for the system to kick in, for lawyers to win the battles for their rights – went missing. I can only hope that they went to  other city or other country, but I can’t know what happened to them. Organisations and children services keep whatever information and documents they have on the minors they followed but finding them is very difficult.

Porte St Ouen