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News from the borders. Calais and Dunkirk

Calais jungle is not “finished”, it has spread far and wide. There are several hundreds people in the Calais and Dunkirk areas. Further, there are people all over the coast, trying to reach the UK from the small Belgian port of Zeebrugge, from Dieppe, Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo, Roscroff up to Bilbao in the Basque Country. Thousands more are in Brussels and other big cities, and especially in Paris, that is the largest area where people are accumulating, surviving in dreadful conditions, sleeping on the pavement, men, women and children, facing police violence, petty crime and hard drugs. People are all trying to settle somewhere and rebuild their lives, defying the border regime with their own bodies. And they are many thousands. In many places citizens have mobilized and are sheltering migrant people in their own homes – Brussels is a shining example.

To cross the border has became exceedingly difficult for those who have no money to pay smugglers and prices have gone up, 2000 euros, 3000, even 5000 for a “guarantee”. In 2016 the UK built a border fence in Calais several miles long, and reinforced border controls on French soil. Africans are the most penalized as they have little or no money. People still manage to hide in the back of lorries, but are usually sniffed out by border dogs. Why people who pay smugglers manage to go past controls is an open question. In many cases, people are arrested by police before arriving to the border checks.

“ After the took me from the lorry, the police handcuffed me with my hands behind my back, then they beat me all over my body” reports a young African. Others complain being pepper-sprayed, insulted, including racist insults, being abandoned in the middle of nowhere, having their shoes taken away. There have been at least three death at the border last month.

TWO MORE DEATHS. An Iranian woman is missing from a boat that was rescued large of the UK coast on the 9th September

An unknown person has gone missing after being spotted floating in the Channel

Some are lucky and make it, which gives hope to the others. A young Afghan, who says he is 16 but looks much younger, crossed shortly after he arrived in Calais, after spending one year in the Balkans. He went all by himself, as he had arrived.

Since going by lorry has became so difficult many are risking their lives on boats, which prompted a series of high profile interventions by the UK higher authorities and a lot of media blablabla, notwisthanding the majority of irregular migrants to the UK arrive by plane, not by lorry or by boat. Other than the boats “scandal” there is very little about Calais – the media circus has moved elsewhere.

The gym in Grande Synthe, near Dunkirk

Dunkirk holds up to 1300 people in transit, according to some estimate. Most are accommodated in or around a very big gymnasium, that is now under eviction. The mayor of Grande Synthe near Dunkirk, Damien Careme, who is pro-migrants, managed to have the gym opened during the winter, and to keep it open until now against the will of the French government, but now all legal challenges have been lost and the gym will close this month, any time now. In the gym people are warehoused in miserable conditions, sleeping on the floor without any privacy. Many sleep outside in tents because inside there is no room. Diahorrea and scabies are rife. However horrible, it is a place other than the jungle and where people are allowed stay, without being chased by police. Most people are Kurds from Iraq, but there are also Iraqi Arabs and Iranians, and very few Afghans. Most people are very friendly and welcoming. There are 60 families they tell me, and lots of young children are running about. In this area a large group of families are camping together, they look after each other and can protect their children. Things will change for the worst when the gym closes and people will be dispersed. It is raining and the ground on which the tents are pitched has turned into a sea of mud. I speak to one of the women, in broken French. She and her husband invite me to their tent, somehow they manage to keep the inside very clean. They are very nice people. They offer me food. Their nine years old son steps in and starts translating, he speaks quite good English. He is small for his age and very intelligent, too intelligent for his age, with big eyes that seem to see everything. They are from Iraqui Kurdistan and have been in France for 10 months, sometimes in the jungle, meaning this camp, sometimes in temporary accommodation. They are determined to go to the UK. The younger son is sleeping in the tent. The mother tells me he is sick, and that she is pregnant with another baby. On my next visit the mother has just come back from the hospital, where she has left her sick child, who is being treated for severe epilepsy. She looks very tired.

What strikes me most, coming from Calais, is that in Grande Synthe the migrants are in the town, move about freely and people are not afraid of them. It is a very multi-ethnic area, with a strong Muslim presence and a pro-migrants administration. Public transport is excellent, and free 7/7, allowing poor people to move about. It is raining and people crowd under the bus shelters, old ladies with shopping bags, school kids, Muslim women wearing headscarves, Black immigrants, local alcoholics, Kurdish refugees, young mothers with babies and prams. Nobody seems afraid or suspicious of others. How different from Calais!

In Calais the racist adminsitration is headed by the mayor Natacha Bouchart, who got elected twice by pandering to the far right. People with no documents have been chased out of sight and can no longer go to town without fear of being arrested or beaten up by police. Segregation in the jungles is complete. Living conditions are miserable, and police harassment a daily occurrence. The only respite is a day centre open by Secours Catholique (Caritas France) that is attended mainly by Africans and a few Iranians, Afghans do not go there. It is very well ran but some essential services and especially legal support have been cut, on order by the head of Secours Catholique in Paris.

How many people on the move are in Calais? To make a count even approximate is totally impossible. There are 5 informal and “illegal” camps, two of which are quite large, one of which is very large. People have fought to resettle here after the eviction of the big jungle in 2016, braving daily police violence such as being pepper sprayied in their sleep. Number of main meals distributed during the month of June is 735 per day on average, but not everybody eats at the same distribution – some are not there in that moment, some have money to buy food, some eat at a different distribution. Therefore, in June there were well over 735 people. Numbers fluctuate and tend to go down after large scale evictions, then up again. Nearly nobody stays in Calais all the time, people move from place to place looking for a chance, or to take a break. They go to Dunkirk, Paris, Caen, Hazebrouk, and they come back. Total number of people in Calais may be way over 1000 if counting all those who are coming and going. The Prefect (head of police for the region) however is saying that numbers have gone down to 300 but it is a lie. There are well over 300 people in the largest camp alone.The police have an old habit of giving numbers way below the real numbers, so to hide the true scale of the migrants’ presence in Calais. François Guennoc, vice president and spokeperson for the association Auberge des migrants, lately is giving numbers similar to those of the police, and the press is repeating them, even Liberation in France. Calais Migrant Solidarity activists, who usually give very correct information, have given similar numbers to Corporate Watch.

The 11th July all three main camps were evicted, afterwards everybody went back to where they were. Previously the largest camp had been evicted twice. First the people had to move from rue Verrotieres, and relocated two streets up, near the food distribution place. Later they were evicted again, most people went back but some area was permanenlty cleared. They are now facing another eviction, requested by the owner of the land on which they have resettled. The Legal Shelter (Cabane Juridique) are preparing a case against the eviction. This is the international camp, hosting people of all nationalities, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, people from other African countries, Afghans, many Iranians, some Kurds especially from Iran, and others. The camp near the hospital is all Afghans, as well as the smaller camp in Transmarck. The camp near the stadium is all Eritreans. On top of real evictions there are “cleaning operations” ever 48 hours. People are forced to move at 8.30 in the morning, lots of police (gendarmerie aided by CRS) close the area, kick out independent witnesses, search the woods and kick out everybody who has not moved already– most people move on the road with their tents before the police arrive. Council cleaners collect some rubbish, some tents are confiscated, a few people are arrested, the police leave in about one hour, and everybody goes to breakfast. At least this is what happens in the biggest jungle. Near the hospital, where tents are hidden in the bush, police often do not bother because it would be too much work. These “cleanings” are most ineffective, there are rats everywhere. They are done only to harass people and keep them moving.

Most people in the Calais jungles are males, including many unaccompanied minors, most from Afghanistan and Eritrea, some very young.

“When I arrived I was a minor, now I have just turned 18. I have been here 17 months. They arrested me many times, why? I do not drink, I do not smoke, I do not make any trouble. I do not like to stay in the jungle and I do not like to stay in France, the police have no respect. All I want is to go to England, work, have a good life and send some money to my family in Afghanistan. England is a good country, but it is so difficult to get there”!

There are very few women and small children, nearly all from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Most are sheltered by volunteers and local people, but sometimes there are women and children sleeping in the jungle. They want to stay there to try go to England, or they have just arrived and do not know there are women’s services and the possibility of accommodation.

People are quite friendly, and increadibly cheerful. Sure they are determined not to let things get them down! Calais is a place of hope, they are all here for a better, a possible future and hope keeps them going. Some people have been here for two years or more.

Some people are newly arrived. Some are returning after being in other EU countries, or back home in Afghanistan. Many applied for asylum in France and were refused, and are now trying to go to England. Some applied for asylum in Belgium, Germany, Norway, other countries, and were refused. The new Loi Asile Immigration 2018 represents a turn for the worst on the subject of asylum and refugees rights. Since the beginning of 2019 time in detention had been doubled to 90 days, creating an explosive situation in the now overcrowded detention centres. There have been a series of protests and hunger strikes. In Paris the Gilets noirs, a new Sans Papiers movement, occupied the main airport to protest deporations.

“I am from Sudan, from Darfur. I am an air pilot. I had to flee my country to save my life. When I arrived in France I liked it, and decided to stay here. My asylum claim was refused, and the appeal refused. I was detained 5 times and they wanted to deport me back to Sudan. If they send me back to Sudan I will be killed. I was released, also thanks to people campaigning for me. I spent 4 years living in the streets, but what can I do? I cannot go back to my country because if I go back I die, and I want to live. I am trying to go to England now. I hope one day I can fly airplanes again”. He speaks in a mild, matter-of-fact way, as if what is happening to him was normal. He is a lovely, intelligent man. There are other Sudanese men in detention in Coquelles, near Calais. One man was sent back to Sudan and disappeared, neither his family or his friends have heard from him. Others were released thanks to legal support and campaigning efforts. There are Afghans being sent back to Afghanistan, also as a result of the hardening of French immigration policies. Lately an Eritrean was deported and others are threatened with deportation. Plus there are lots of Dublin deportatons, especially to Italy. Calais Migrant Solidarity activists are doing good work supporting people in the local detention centre of Coquelles, and raising the alarm,

Demonstration “the march of the forgotten”, police took revenge by going to the jungle afterwards beating people up

This year there have been a series of demonstrations in Calais to demand dignity and rights for the people in the jungles, an end to deportations, an end to the Dublin system, stop police violence and an open border. They have been organized by a collective called Appel d’air, including refugees, activists and volunteers. After the last, very peaceful protest, the police went to the jungle and beat up everybody they could find, in revenge. Refugees say the associations did not complain about this unprovoked attack, and in general are failing to defend them.

“We do not need food, blankets or clothes. We need to be given our rights”!

My personal thoughts is that the associations in Calais have always failed to defend people’s rights. They always had double loyalties towards the people they are supposed to be helping and towards the institutions on which ultimately they depend. In Calais we do not have a humanitarian crisis, what we see is the result of politics and the UK and French governments are creating this situation. The problem is the border. Justice renders charity 100% useless.

Nearly 10 years have passed since the first wholesale evictions of Calais jungle, in September 2009. There were several self organized camps and squats, the French State tried to demolish them all, but immediately they formed again. In June 2009 there was a No Border camp in Calais, and Calais Migrant Solidarity was formed by activists present at the camp. No Borders activists have mantained a continuos presence in Calais even since, offering solidarity not charity and working with refugees and other migrants on an equalitarian basis, instead than an up-down relationship.

In 2016 we were overcame by volunteers and startups, who swamped Calais without understanding the politics and without listening to anyone but to themselves. The Auberge des migrants, that was the smallest association in Calais, became the biggest thanks to Help Refugees. Most associations including the Info bus, the Refugee Youth Service and the Refugee Community Kitchen are based with the Auberge. To me this is a problem. The Auberge / Help Refugees did a great job collecting and distributing humanitarian aid. However they also co-opted the large solidarity movement that had sprang out after the death of little Aylan Kurdi in a direction convenient to the State. They helped building the big jungle-ghetto, and keeping people there. When migrants organized demonstrations supported by No Borders activists, demanding an end to racist segregation in the jungle, a house for all, open the border and an end to police violence, the associations were not interested. They organized a large but pointless demonstration of their own, with no demands, and they did not even consult with the migrants in struggle, who were very disappointed. The charites- led demonstration went to the ferry port, on which entrance a fake wall had been erected for people to write on so to vent their frustration – without going inside the ferry port, that could have caused some disruption. Nobody took notice, except for a little article in the local paper. The migrant-led demonstrations had gone to the city centre, rendering the issue visible, and to the Town Hall, even the mayor Natacha Bouchart went and meet them on one occasion.

The warehouse from where the Auberge operate, and where most other associations are based, had and still has a policy not to allow anyone without papers inside. In the warehouse, same racist segregation like everywhere else in Calais.The justification given is that the police threatened to close the warehouse if they found undocumented people there. Undocumented people however had been helping with the charities in the past, and nothing was shut down. The Auberge have always been very prone to obey the authrities, and perhps the pressure may have been higher this time. Further, the Auberge and their partner Help Refugees (now renamed Choose Love) obliged all their volunteers to sign a paper in which they promised NOT TO TALK TO REFUGEES. Why? Are they not human beings like us? Are they dangerous and why should they be more dangerous than anybody else? The refugees were deeply offended seeing large groups of volunteers going to their home, doing some work, and leaving without even talking to them! Choose love? How can you love someone you do not know and you don’t even talk to? Many volunteers signed the paper, disobeyed, and kept talking to refugees, sitting in the jungle’s restaurants and fraternizing with the people living there, fair play to them.

When Cazeneuve, the minister who had created that horror of the big jungle, decided to evict it in one week, without any real solution for the thousands of people there but deportation to temporary accommodation centres far away, the associations decided to collaborate with the government, even expressing their approval in a letter to the then president of France, Hollande. Meanwhile Jean Claude Lenoir, president of the association Salam, who do not work with the other associations, was inviting everybody to “trust the government”! (“faire confiance ou gouvernment) WTF. I am not accusing all volunteers of being collaborators and most are good people. Some have been harassed and even prosecuted by police. The problem is with the head of the associations and their hierarchical organisation. Some associations’ local branches, like Secours Catholique in Calais or Emmaus in Dunkirk, are quite good. The heads of the same associations in Paris are major collaborators with the State. Clare Moseley of Care4Calais, who does not work with the other associations, grassed up and took to court various refugees who did not want her in the jungle. Moseley also falsely accused fellow humanitarian worker Mary Jones and the people who ran the Kids’ Restaurant Jungle Books of stealing money destined to the kids, taking them to court. Later the case was thrown out of court because not supported by any evidence whatsoever. Moseley’s accusations were instrumental for the police to close shops and restarants in the jungle ahead of the eviction in 2016. All this is common knowledge but nobody is talking about it.

The Auberge and Help Refugees took the government to court over the eviction, but they did not ask for the eviction to be halted until real solutions were found for everybody. They just asked for human rights to be respected, which of course is ridicolous, you cannot displace thousands of people in one week and respect their human rights. They asked for minors to be taken care of, and some minor points. They did not obtain anything, but still collaborated with the eviction. What is happening now in Calais is the result of that eviction, that is why I feel the need to keep taliking about it. The associations totally failed to make the point that people have a right to stay somewhere. The temporary accommodation places are no solution, after one month people are thrown back in the streets unless they apply for asylum in France. The rate of Dublin deportation and refusals of asylum claims made from these temporary centres is staggering, as support and information there are mostly absent, sometimes people do not even have an interpreter in their language! For everyone who was given papers and a place at the university of Lille there are dozens who dropped out the system or were refused, usually without having their cases properly heard. I met many of them, who have returned to the jungle.



CALAIS BORDER, and a few small boats

An increasing number of migrants are crossing the Channel by boat, with over 220 intercepted from November to the end of December, at sea or just after reaching the UK coasts. This is a result of increased controls at the Calais border, and the construction of huge border fence paid for by the UK, Most of those who arrive by sea are Iranians, and some Syrians. Crossing the Channel in small boats and rubber dinghies is extremely dangerous, due to intense maritime traffic, strong winds, unpredictable weather, and sea currents. Many of those rescued are underage, some are young children including toddlers and a baby. Christmas day registered the highest number of known arrivals: 5 boats carrying 40 people, Welcome to the UK! Who knows if others made it? And if others did not make it? Why do people have to risk their lives in such a way? Open the borders!

A new wave of anti-immigrant hysteria has hit the UK following these few arrivals by boat. Home secretary Sajid Javid interrupted his holidays to deal with the ‘crisis’. In fact, Javid has not proposed anything, except, once again: improving cooperation with the French authorities, fight people’s smugglers, and the usual. Trying to emulate in racism his White tory colleagues, Javid has pointed out the need to protect and reinforce the border, and tackle the refugee’s arrivals, The Home Office said there was “concern that it is only a matter of time before people lose their lives”. According to the BBC, Mr Javid will now receive daily updates from the Home Office, and has spoken to Border Force officials, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency.He has also commissioned detailed options from Border Force about the provision of additional vessels in the Channel, including another Border Force cutter, and whether this is likely to encourage more people to try to make the crossing rather than act as a deterrence.” – i.e. the new vessels would have the obligation to rescue the people they find at sea, which could encourage more people to come by boat. Two fishermen, father and son, have been looking for boats in distress the Kent coast on their boat, saying ‘someone has to do it’.   WATCH THE VIDEO, it shows the rescue of a small boat. Appalling how people are forced to travel.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, the Home Secretary and the French Interior minister have reached an accord, the 30th December, towards “a bilateral reinforced plan for action” to tackle the “problem” of the small boats. The ministers agreed on an increase in the number of surveillance patrols, as well as actions to dismantle gangs of smugglers. In addition, awareness campaigns will be set up to inform migrants about the dangers of crossing the Channel.

Fingers are pointed at the usual suspects: organized crime, mafia networks

Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said migrants were being “lured to Calais” over the internet as smugglers operate via social networks – facebook and WhatsApp “without any real oversight” from the companies controlling them.  Social media are a vital resource for people in transit, enabling them to keep in touch with friends and family and to navigate the very complex system of border controls and repression, Smugglers have little interest in the social media, as they prefer to remain invisible.

The real culprits, Fortress Europe and Fortress Britain, are left off, as ususal. Abolish borders, and smugglers will disappear overnight.

According to campaigners and lawyers, the importance of these crossings by boats has been ‘blown out of proportion’. Colin Yeo, an immigration and asylum legal expert, said: “It is hard to see how a handful of refugees arriving every day is a crisis.”Nazek Ramadan, director of the nonprofit Migrant Voice, put it more bluntly: “The situation is not a crisis.

The UK received 27,966 asylum applications this year. This number certainly does not compare to a couple hundreds arrivals! To put it even more bluntly, the idea of a ‘migrant crisis’ is simply ridicolous. Most refugees and other migrants arrive in the UK by plane, not by boat and not even by lorry. They land in the UK ariports, with real or fake passports, and not on the Kent coast.

Lawyers and campaigners have criticised Sajid Javid after the Home Secretary suggested asylum seekers should be deterred from crossing the Channel in small boats by making it harder to gain asylum, a right enshrined in international law. The Refugee Council said the comments are“deeply concerning” and the suggestion of denying asylum is unlawful. Diane Abbott called the comments “a disgrace”.

The Geneva Convention clearly states people ‘have a right to leave their countries’ and are entitled to international protection, regardless of the means they use to travel. It is a sensless attack to refugee rights and international law.

Vox Political speaks of a manufactured ‘migrant crisis’, maybe to create and anti-EU sentiment ahead of the Brexit vote. It is also noted that the expression ‘migrant crisis is used, not ‘refugee crisis’

We always say the distrinction between refugees and migrants is a false distinciton, they are all human beings and as such they should have the same rights as everybody else, and all people deserve to be free to go where they want (No Borders/ No One Is Illegal position).  The vast majority of people stranded in Calais,  however, are refugees flying wars and / or persecution.  The use of the expression ‘migrant crisis’ is probably a political propaganda choice, as to mean they are less ‘deserving’ of our ‘help’.

Make no mistake”, Labour MP David Lammy said, “this is not in response to genuine concern for human life. This is Sajid Javid imitating Donald Trump’s “migrant caravan”manufactured emergency to whip up fear before the Brexit vote. Desperate and cynical.”

The London Economics also accuses the Conservatives to use refugees as political pawns ahead of a critical Brexit period.

That the Calais ‘crisis’ il used to manipulate public opinion in the UK is no novelty. A UK media campaign caused  the closure of the refugee centre of Sangatte near Calais in 2002, and refugees started camping in the woods, the beginning of the famous Calais ‘jungle’. In 2015, French police forcibly pushed thousands migrant people in an industrial wasteland were they would be ‘tolerated’ – in fact it was the idea of the then Interior minister Cazeneuve to send them there. Beforehand, migrants were staying in various squats and woods of their choice. A huge shantytown they called the ‘jungle’ grew next to the motorway that leads to the port, and next to the new border fence. The associations counted up to 14.000 people in that jungle, a conservative estimate by their own admission. Frontline volunteers who gave blankets to people who arrived reckon that at some point numbers were touching 20.000. That jungle was very visible and always full of journalists and cameras. Daily, there were spectacular attempts to cross, mass assults to lorries, police violence galore, flahsballs and gigantic showers of tear gas, huge numbers of rubber bullets flying, people often throwing stones at the police as a response- a form of collective self-defence in my opinion, and they had no comparable weapons. Was not all this spectacle, by any chance, to give the impression of a ‘refugee crisis’, and a possible ‘invasion’ of England by foreigners? Did it not, by any chance, play in the hands of those who wanted Brexit, and influenced that ill-conceived referendum? That ‘jungle’ was short lived and was destroyed in 2016. People however still hang out in Calais, as they have done for the past 20 years, less visible and in much smaller numbers, and they keep going to England – Calais was never empty of migrants, and a few days after the destruction of the ‘jungle’ a large group of Afghans passed from Calais to the UK, in the back of two lorries. Crossing by boat has been happening for quite a while, though it was not so common. A boat full of my friends was intercepted in 2013, when near the UK coast the engine broke. Others were fished out the Channel from rafts and rubber dinghies just before they sank, including a father with a baby daughter: a number of such rescues were reported over the years.

In a wider perspective, it seems to me there is not such a thing like a ‘refugee crisis’ or a ‘migrant crisis’: it is a crisis for the people on the move, not for Europe. In the industrialized countries migrants are always needed to fill labour shortages. If all countries in Europe took a share of refugees nobody would notice there is a crisis. Instead, migration policies insanely stupid and cruel let people accumulate at the border points, where they are confined in camps that are unfit for animals , like on the Greek islands where children try to kill themselves. People fly from our bombs and drown in the Mediterranean sea in their thousands because all legal ways to enter Europe have been closed to them. They escape extreme poverty caused by neoliberal policies, i.e. the theft of land and resources in their own countries: ‘we’ should go home, not ‘them’. They do not need our ‘help’ either, they need us to leave them alone. When they try escape poverty they are confronted by new types of hyper-exploitation. People work for a pittance, people are trafficked, sold into slavery, forced into prostitution,. They are made ‘illegal’ and forced to hide, detained, and deported to the same countries they fled for their lives. European and UK policies against refugees and other migrants can only be understood in terms of racism, imperialism, and slavery.

Since the destruction of the ‘jungle’ in 2016, migrants have not disappeared, but conditions in Calais have deteriorated – to unimaginable levels. The media circus has disappeared, with a nearly complete lack of coverage until recently, and as a result many thought there were no more migrants left in Calais. Migrants trying for England,instead, have spread everywhere. There are migrants not only in Calais and Dunkirk, but in Belgium, in Paris, Ouistreham, Caen and all along the coast, as far as Bilbao in the Basque Country. They are surviving in the most dangerous conditions, exposed to police brutality worst than ever. Detention and deportations from France have increased, also to countries like Afghanistan and Sudan. People without papers are obliged to hide: at least in the Calais area they cannot leave the woods for fear of being arrested. Only the new day centre of Secours Catholique offers some respite, but people have to be taken to the centre and back to the jungles by associations’ vans to avoid arrest. A slightly better situation is in Oustreham, due to local people’s solidarity and mobilization. In Belgium a strong solidarity movement has formed, many people are defending migrants and sheltering them in their homes but solidarity is now under attack from the Belgian authorities. Appalling situation in Paris, where at least 1.500 migrants, refugees mostly, including many unaccompanied minors and families with young children are sleeping rough, amongst gassings, destructions of camps, micro criminality and hard drugs spreading, as Paris Refugee Ground Support report. Destrucions have greatly intensified in Dunkirk against the several hundreds of people who try from there, mainly Kurdish, including families with young children, Four associations present in Calais have published a report with several cases of police violence, from 1st November 2017 to 1st November 2018, including destructions of tents and people’s belongings, physical violence and intimidation, also against unaccompanied minors and women, including beatings and indiscriminate use of CS gas. The abuses exposed in this report are the tip of the iceberg.

The prefect of Pas the Calais, who is responsible for the police, denies any wrongdoing on their behalf, saying the police are acting very professionally, and the associations are lying. Volunteers are daily harassed by police, and solidarity criminalized. May be worth remembering though that the Auberge des migrants, who worked at the report and with whom most other associations are based, also collaborated with the destruction of the jungle in 2016.

See also

Calais boat arrivals – Nubers from the BBC:

31 December – six Iranian men are found soaking wet in Dover

28 December – Twelve migrants in two separate boats detained off the coast of Dover
27 December – Some 23 migrants, including three children, were detained in Kent after crossing the channel in small three boats
26 December – Three migrants brought ashore by Border Force
25 December – Forty migrants, including two children, crossed the Channel in five boats
15 December – Four children are among a group of 11 people rescued off Dover. Eight said they were Iraqi and the other three claimed to be Iranian
12 December – Six men found in a dinghy off the coast of Dover
11 December – Six people, thought to be from Iran were rescued from a small boat off the Kent coast. A second boat with eight men, all saying they were Iranian were picked up later the same day off Dover
4 December – Two men were brought to shore at Dover
27 November – An 18-month-old baby was among nine people rescued from a dinghy off Dover
23 November – Eight men located in a dinghy off the coast of Dover
22 November – Thirteen men and one woman were intercepted in two dinghies off the coast of Dover
18 November – Nine suspected migrants were found clambering up rocks in Folkestone after apparently crossing the English Channel in a small boat
16 November – Seven suspected migrants were found off Samphire Hoe, near Dover
14 November – Nine suspected migrants – seven men, one woman and a toddler – were found off the Kent coast. Another 10 were found near Dover Docks and five men were found several miles of Ramsgate
13 November – Fourteen men and three children entered Port of Dover on a French fishing boat believed to be stolen
9 November -Seven men were found in the English Channel off Dover
3 November – Eight suspected migrants were stopped off the Kent coast and seven others were stopped at Dover Western Docks

Also published on Freedom News

More on police violence and VIDEO:

Bosnia and the ‘new Balkan route’/ Bihac


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

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. 

 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.

View at

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.

 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.


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.


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

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

IBAN IT95S0501812101000012405106

One Bridge To Idomeni Onlus

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



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”

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.

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.

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

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

IBAN IT95S0501812101000012405106

One Bridge To Idomeni Onlus



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.

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:

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.  





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: 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)


The 23rd May at least 600 people demonstrated in Brussels, asking for justice for Madwa.

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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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.


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.



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.

Calais: one year after ‘the jungle’

Action to Mark One Year anniversary of the Calais Jungle Demolition


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 News

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.  

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 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.…/eu-african-leaders-meet-in-pa……/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.…/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.…/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!


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:


  • 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






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.


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. What is happening now was totally predictable then, and the eviction should have been opposed altogether, until real solutions were proposed.




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 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