Archivio mensile:febbraio 2018

Worst cold ever, urgent request for help in the North of France

New wave of intense cold in the North of France, please donate. Volunteers are literally saving lives. Due to constant destructions by police of people’s tents, bedding and belongings everything is always in short supply. I think the biggest emergencies are Paris and Dunkirk. In Calais there is constant need too but there is a bit more support, and shelters for the extreme cold are opening though places are not sufficient and there are always many people sleeping out. Mind the authorities and police always destroy tents when people are in the cold weather shelters, so please send and save tents for when the shelters close. After the last big destruction near rue Verrotieres, people spent two nights out without shelter because the Auberge des migrants did not have enough (400) tents to give.

Most needed:

Sleeping bags
Water containers (5 litres preferred) and bottled water, access to water is a big problem)
Warm clothes especially jackets (sporty, dark colours preferred, for men, women and children 11+)
T shirts, underwear, socks (thermal socks are awesome)
Hats, scarves, gloves
Waterproof jackets
Shoes (sporty)
Dry/ canned food
Pots, pans, camping gas
Small torches
Sim cards and credit (English 3G, English Lyca and French Lyca)
Used / cheap mobile phones
Hygiene products


At least 1300 migrant people were left out to freeze under the snow in their tents in Paris North during the last cold wave, the total number of people sleeping out in Paris is unknown. Most did not find place in the cold weather shelters. The photos speak for themselves:

As you can see the very numerous evictions and constant police harassment have failed to stop new camps forming again. The CAO system is always saturated and it does not meet the needs of those who do not want to apply for asylum in France, that is the only ‘solution’ on offer at the end; all emergency accommodation is always saturated. Paris Refugee Ground Support report of 65 people arriving in the Paris North camps over the last week-end in just 48 hours, including many underage boys and girls. Women and families with young children are usually sheltered by volunteers and local people but they do not manage to shelter all the unaccompanied minors. By law these kids should be given a roof and some protection, but they are often turned out from the official shelters for minors for lack of spaces, or for spurious reasons such as they cannot proof their age. Hundreds of underage boys are sleeping in the streets of Paris. In the cold and snow, exposed to violence and sexual exploitation. Many of the people who sleep out in Paris are Dublin cases, including many young people who applied for asylum in other countries especially Norway and Denmark and were rejected when they turned 18. Many are from Afghanistan and are at risk to be deported back there if they are returned to the first ‘safe’ country. Often they are deported directly from hotels and temporary accommodation, but nobody warns them. Other main nationalities are Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iraq, some from Pakistan and some from other African countries.
People who sleep out in central Paris have a very hard time, with police constantly harassing them, spraying them with CS gas and forcing them to move, minors included.
The ‘Bulle’, the ‘humanitarian’ camp opened by the mayor of Paris Annie Hidalgo last year where around 400 single adult males are warehoused in very squalid conditions is always full, and it functions as a centre to identify people – but nobody tells them they can be dublined when they enter, usually after queueing all night in the cold. The centre is managed by Emmaus Solidarite’, Utopia 56 who were helping with the Bulle withdrew in protest.

All those who are forced to sleep out rely on volunteers to stay alive. Please donate to
for Paris Refugee Ground Support.


Umpteenth destruction of Puythouck camp: tents, bedding, a kitchen and people’s possessions destroyed under their eyes.

This winter the mayor of Grande-Synthe Damien Careme succeeded into opening a shelter in a disused sport centre, against the will of the government, where some 300 people sleep in very squalid and overcrowded conditions including families, who have separate quarters from single males. At the same time the shelter was opened, Damien Careme had the water cut at Puythouck in order to dissuade people from camping there. However people keep going to the jungle because they don’t find place in the shelter; some have been kicked out, including a 15 years old boy who got involved in an argument and is now sleeping out. There are often tensions as Kurds and Afghans are mixed in the shelter. Some people refuse to be dispersed to temporary accommodation places far from Dunkirk. Recently we were looking for accommodation for a family with a very young daughter, they did not find place in the shelter and refused to move to far away accommodation because they were going to try to pass. They ended up sleeping out, volunteers gave them a tent. Some people put their tents up next to the sports centre, others go to the jungle at Puythouck. There are always dozens of people sleeping out including people who have just arrived. People are pressurized to move to CAO, where they are pressurized to apply for asylum in France. In Grande-Synthe people have less support than in Calais because there are fewer volunteers. Apart from food (provided by RKC and other associations) everything else is in short supply: tents, sleeping bags, water, wood for burning.
Paypal me and I will transfer,
or (for Fleur Ali, volunteer in G-S, and her friends)


In Calais the war on tents and blankets continues unabated, and also here it has not succeeded in preventing the formation of new camps: there were well over 1000 people sleeping out before the last big fights. If it is a war, the people are resisting, even winning: they keep returning to their camps after each destruction, and they are still going to England. I do not know why the associations keep saying there are 800 migrants in Calais, it is a gross underestimate. Over 1000 were eating at the food distributions, and many do not eat there. Hundreds are underage boys. Many left Calais after the big fights, making the numbers given by the Auberge come true. Many went to Paris, just in time to catch the snow. No doubt they will return, if they have not returned already.

I am trying to organize support in Calais on the basis of SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY, horizontal and migrant-led; if people are interested to help organize independent distributions I would like to know, for future reference. I am NOT suggesting independent people just turn up and distribute, as usual local knowledge is essential, and some communication and organization.

There is an urgent appeal for accommodation in citizen’s homes, especially during the cold that is coming, and especially for minors.


Children of Calais. Calais own mass shooting, and other terrifying incidents.

It was an Afghan, smuggler presumably, who opened fire on a crowd of about 30 young Eritreans, wounding 5, 4 in life-threatening conditions, 1 serious. The police are looking for a 37 years old Afghan man, as the shooter has been identified. The victims are all between 16 and 20. It started as an argument between Eritreans and Afghans at a lunchtime food distribution near the hospital . It developed into one of the most terrifying fights in Calais ever, involving pretty much everybody, even those who did not want to fight. Africans got very angry hearing there were Africans in hospital with serious bullet injuries; according to a ‘jungle rumour’ there were 7 dead! Africans started to attack everybody who looks Afghan, or is light skinned, Libyan, Egyptians, Iranians and others were all being attacked. The first fight was at a food distribution near the hospital, the second at the food distribution in rue Verrotieres, the third by night when the Eritreans attacked the Afghans sleeping near the hospital, near where the shooting had happened. Hundreds of people got injured, including many underage boys.The number 22 diffused by the press is the number of people hospitalized, not that of people injured, that is much higher. Many were medicated and dismissed, even people who had leg injuries and could barely walk, never mind run, released to the most dangerous streets with a bit of paracetamol. Many did not even bother going to the hospital. There are hundreds of minors as young as 13 living in such danger in the ‘jungle’. We managed, with great difficulty, to find accommodation for 13 people, including a 13 and a 14 years old Afghan boys who had just arrived, other minors, an injured man, a middle aged man who had to go for an operation. When I was managing an office space in Calais we had 12 Afghan minors  16 or younger sleeping there every night (more when it was colder). I so much miss… being able to provide some protection to people. Unfortunately the citizen’s network in Calais has shrunk, there were 15 citizen’s households offering accommodation to refugees, now are fewer. Opening squats  is not an option: as long as the state of emergency lasts, and they made it permanent, the authorities can close any squat, legal or not legal, at any moment, if there is a’security risk’, there will be always until the local authorities change. Two legal squat in Calais centre were opened, and evicted immediately. I don’t know, to me seems like a waste of time. Maybe elsewhere, but in Calais?

If police don’t shoot them, the mafia will. Only recently a 16 years old Eritrean man lost an eye when a gas grenade was fired in his face, had multiple cranial fractures, his nose was pushed inside his skull and he nearly lost the other eye. The policeman who shot him is being investigated.

When the Dubs amendment was passed the intention for the House of Lords was for 3000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children to be relocated into the UK. When it was passed law they did not specify number. The Home Office pledged to relocate 480 children under the scheme however, as of 23 January, 2018, only 230 children having relocated from Europe to the UK under the provision.
Now the Dubs scheme has re-opened, but the cap is at 260, a ridiculously low number; after, they will close the scheme again.

I saw many people injured, three minors hit on the head, one was saved by two of his African friends who intervened to protect him, still had a ugly gash from some other Africans hitting him. It seems to me the media make up things as they go, the Guardian for instance also blamed the incident on the increase in people after Macron’s visit, 200 people more according to the newspaper. There were well over 200 people arriving after Macron’s visit, the kitchen started making 2700 meals per day, especially minors hoping to go to England, they were disappointed and many left again; a rise in numbers can add to the tensions, but tensions between Afghans and Eritreans have been going for many months and since the Grande-Synthe camp burned down, many Afghans moved to Calais and began displacing the Eritreans near the Secours Catholique day centre, then near the hospital. The ‘humanitarian’ camp at Grande-Synthe burned down after a massive fight between Afghan and Kurdish smugglers involving knives and guns. The recent increase in numbers of people coming to Calais was not the cause of the shooting and  fights, access to parking areas and to the motorway are the cause, and control of territory. Most Africans have little or no money to pay the smugglers, and they are bond to clash with them. There was another shooting in the same area at the end of November. A week before the shooting a 14 years old lost a finger in a fight between Afghans and Africans.

The biggest fight I remember in the big ‘jungle’ was  between Afghans versus Sudanese, soon Africans versus everybody else, and involved pretty much everybody in the camp. Police selectively threw gas grenades at the Africans.

Fights and very big fights, and divisions on the lines of race and ethnicity have always occurred in Calais. The worst year for fights was 2015, due to closure of the border, sudden arrival of thousands of people, and competition over points of passage. That is also the time smugglers became nastier and more violent. When free zones of passage were fenced up. When new gangs set up to control the few free points of passage left. When there were hardly any points of passage left, other than those controlled by increasingly violent smugglers. The closure of the borders strengthens the smugglers networks as people are increasingly depending on them to pass.
It is all too easy to blame ‘the smugglers.’ The problem is the border, open the border and smugglers will disappear immediately. ‘Passeur’ is someone who helps others to pass, it does not define good or bad. Some smugglers I have known were real gentlemen, others are a horror. The tightening of the border seems to favour the emergence of worst type. The UK and French governments have created a bottleneck that gets worst every day, and many people get stuck in it. Including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, who are living in the woods, looked after by smugglers, some of whom are armed and crazy. with police and racists chasing them.