Archivi categoria: Women refugees

Calais: one year after ‘the jungle’

Action to Mark One Year anniversary of the Calais Jungle Demolition

Peter.Marshall

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 Newshttps://www.facebook.com/peter.marshall.712/media_set?set=a.10159198166220467.1073742284.785785466&type=3&pnref=story

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.

https://www.facebook.com/MobileRefugeeSupport/photos/a.640458526159762.1073741828.638892649649683/667380590134222/?type=3&theater

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.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=344357759358180&id=100013518766580

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/23/calais-refugees-year-after-razing-of-camp?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

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.

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/249480/article/2017-10-20/il-autorise-les-migrants-vivre-dans-son-bois-je-ne-suis-pas-politique-je-fais-ca#

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:

https://www.gofundme.com/calais-winter-fund

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.  http://www.secours-catholique.org/sites/scinternet/files/comm_presse/lettre_ouverte_au_president_de_la_republique_29_09_2016.pdf  

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 http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/. 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.

http://www.infomigrants.net/…/eu-african-leaders-meet-in-pa…

http://www.infomigrants.net/…/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.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/…/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.

https://www.amnesty.org/…/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!

Paris

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: https://www.gofundme.com/4dwnptc

 

https://www.gofundme.com/4dwnptc

Notes

  • 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

https://www.amnesty.fr/refugies-et-migrants/petitions/halte-aux-expulsions-vers-lafghanistan

https://medium.com/@AreYouSyrious/ays-daily-digest-05-10-17-number-of-afghans-returned-from-europe-nearly-tripled-fbcf799d44ba

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/european-governments-return-nearly-10000-afghans-to-risk-of-death-and-torture/

http://www.lacimade.org/france-accelere-expulsions-vers-lafghanistan/

https://www.facebook.com/chiara.lauvergnac/posts/10155221497064092

 

 

 

 

 

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.

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/affrontements-pour-la-paix-a-calais-fighting-for-peace-in-calais/

 

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. http://www.secours-catholique.org/sites/scinternet/files/comm_presse/lettre_ouverte_au_president_de_la_republique_29_09_2016.pdf What is happening now was totally predictable then, and the eviction should have been opposed altogether, until real solutions were proposed. 

https://www.change.org/p/prefets-et-maires-de-france-maires-ouvrez-les-nombreux-b%C3%A2timents-publics-vides-pour-loger-les-personnes-sans-abri/fbog/7403396?recruiter=7403396&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=autopublish

 

 

I

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 screen..football 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
Annunci

After the jungles. Calais, Dunkirk, Paris: many hundreds sleep out without shelter, children included. New report on police violence in Calais.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: THE TOWN HALL TRY TO STOP ALL FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS IN CALAIS JUNGLE except the 6pm distrbution WITH USE OF VIOLENCE AND ARRESTS BY CRS 

IMG_8212.JPG

30/06 Police cleared all the area around the place of food distribution rue des Verrotiers, all tents, blankets, tarpaulin destroyed. People however returned and they keep occupying the woods and industrial wastelands where this bizarre non-camp exists. Many are minors.   In the evening there was a shower of gas grenades thrown near the place of food distribution where people had returned, and people had to run for cover.

31/06 CRS stopped the food distribution of Salam about10.20 Philippe Mignonet the helper of the mayor Natacha Bouchart and the young chief of police were present. Police told the associations food and water distributions are no longer allowed but no order was produced. Utopia56 and Calais Refugee Kitchen were also stopped from giving food near the ‘jungle’ and one volunteer arrested – for trying to feed some people: as usual, she was assaulted by cops and accused of assaulting them; however there were many witnesses and the scene has been filmed.   5 or 6 refugees were arrested that I have seen, some got gassed in the eyes or hit with truncheons. It is Ramadan with no food no water. Inhumanity and this is totally illegal as a judge has already ruled associations cannot be stopped from feeding people in the streets. Again, the pretext is security because the police say distributions attract crowds.

Refugees protesting against the police stopping food distributions:

02/06 The illegal ban against food distributions in the jungles is still being implemented with lots of CRS and great display of weaponry, they are also stopping volunteers from giving water, blankets and all aid. Associations are still doing distributions (usually at different hours) when CRS find out they are doing a distribution they arrive and brutally disperse everybody also using CS gas and truncheons on many occasions. Last night 6 people were arrested around 1 am –  three were minors, according to some of the arrested who were later released. Earlier on the same evening police threatened people with a dog -there was a large group including minors and some women who were about to leave to try to go UK. Today after morning distribution 6 people were arrested but one managed to run away. 25 Afghans were arrested on rue Garennes. There are so many arrests it is really difficult to keep track. Very important to keep watching and filming, usually filming is quite easy during distributions but the police may want to see your documents. Blankets are very scarc because the police spray them with CS gas rendering them unusable, associations have no blankets to give. Please donate.

On the night between Friday 02/06 and Saturday 03/06 police go in the jungle, rue Verrotier and bois Debruille, during the night and early in the morning,. many people sprayed with CS gas in their sleep and many people arrested. All day gendarmerie and CRS patrolling the roads and stopping food distributions, gendarmerie vans in the area of food distribution all day preventing people from going there. Volunteers do distributions by stealth, arrive in small cars, give out pre-packed food and bottles of water and leave quickly. The only distribution allowed is the 6 pm, no trouble but gendarmerie stop people from going there until 5.50 pm and fewer people than usual attending.

In Calais, Dunkirk and Paris we are witnessing a succession of evictions concerning thousands of migrant people. The creation of thousands temporary accommodation places in CAO (Centes d’accueil et orientation) spread all across France goes hand in hand with  zero  tolerance policies for camps and squats. CAO are not a solution for everybody and there are never enough places for everybody. Most people who have newly arrived in France, all those who do not find place in CAO end up sleeping rough, as well as those who do not want to stay in CAO  (because they do not want to apply for asylum in France for instance). They are pushed into ever more insecure, dangerous and even life-threatening situations, sleeping in the woods or by the side of the road without even a shelter, women and children included,  condemned to invisibility and exposed to violence by police, racists, smugglers and other criminals. 

Some good news: the 27th April the UK government announced they will take 130 more unaccompanied minors under the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Bill. Transfers under Dubs had been stopped for months on pretext there were not places for the kids by local authorities, a fabrication since many local authorities had offered places and the report according to which there were not places was old and out of date. Though 130 objectively is not many compared to the huge and increasing number of minors arriving in Europe alone, this announce is a life saver for those 130, and further opens the door to the possibility of more transfers. Please keep putting pressure on the UK government. Transfers of children and other vulnerable people under family reunification are also being hindered both by the French and UK authorities: for instance the French bureaucrats do the paperwork so badly that the UK just send the applications back to France and the people are left hanging. 

Please come to Calais if you can and help us monitor the situation! Demonstrations in Calais are forbidden under state of emergency but demonstrations are not forbidden in the UK! (direct action even better).

Please donate here:   https://www.gofundme.com/calais-rain-emergency-fund    All money donated is to buy tarpaulin or goes directly to help migrants with what is most needed and where the associations do not reach. Filling the gaps is something No Borders have always done until recently but I have always found it very difficult to get money from Calais Migrant Solidarity so I am doing my own crowfunding. Some associations i.e. the Auberge des migrants/ Help Refugees stopped giving tents because the police destroy them, saying tents render people more visible therefore more vulnerable to police attacks but it should be the people’s choice if they want to have tents or not. Some associations e.g. the Auberge openly collaborated with the government evicting the ‘jungle’ in October, therefore they cannot be trusted. My anger and frustration is with the management not with the volunteers who are doing a wonderful job. We are already doing independent distributions of tents, tarp and materials and we always need sleeping bags and blankets. And money to buy.

Food donations: Calais Refugee Kitchen prepares 2000 meals per day that are distributed in Calais and Dunkirk by various associations. Please support them (even if they are based with Auberge des migrants) http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com/

 

CALAIS

Destroying people’s shelters does not make them disappear. Seven months after the destruction of Calais ‘jungle’ there are several hundreds of people sleeping out in Calais’s streets, woods and wastelands. Many are unaccompanied minors and there are women too – volunteers and local people try to shelter the women and the youngest children. There is a shelter for minors but in St Omer not in Calais, kids can only stay up to 5 days. Police destroy any tents they find, leaving people to sleep rough with only blankets and sleeping bags that are often damaged or destroyed – for instance police pepper spray blankets rendering them unusable. Police violence is appalling . People, including women and minors, are sprayed in the face, beaten, hit with rubber bullets, have their shoes taken away, are subjected to insults and racist abuse; there are at least two allegations of people deliberately ran over by police cars. Most of the violence happens when people try for England, and police use gas grenades to disperse people but people can be attacked any time they encounter the police, kicked or sprayed in the face when they sleep and so on. Arbitrary and repeated arrests are very common. The Refugee Rights Data Project have recently conducted a research in the Calais area. They denounce the insecurity and danger for people in the absence of a camp or structure. The unaccompanied minors are the most exposed to sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking, according to this research. 89 per cent of people interviewed said they had experienced police violence during their time in Calais.  82 per cent described police treatment in France as “bad” or “very bad”. 84 per cent had experienced tear gas, 53 per cent other forms of physical violence and 28 per cent verbal abuse. Broken limbs, facial injuries and severe bruising were found to be ‘typical injuries’. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugees-calais-northern-france-police-brutality-daily-basis-unaccompanied-minors-children-a7696076.html

Full  report (in French):                                                                          http://refugeerights.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/RRDP_SixMoisPlusTard.pdf

This report is  mostly based on testimonies, hard evidence is needed. The French authorities are in perpetual denial of any wrongdoing by police. And there is violence by fascists and racists, and in some cases by lorry drivers. A young man had an arm broken when a driver pushed him from his lorry. And there is the violence of the border. Three people  have died trying to cross this year, that we know of.

2 May, at Paris’s Gare du Nord, after succeeding to climb onto the Eurostar’s roof an exile was killed by the electric arc from the catenary system above the train.

http://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75010/paris-gare-du-nord-un-migrant-meurt-electrocute-sur-le-toit-d-un-eurostar-02-05-2017-6908805.php

This is the third exile to have died at the border so far this year. On the 21st of January Johnsina was run over on the motorway near Calais. On the 11th of March, another exile died near Dunkirk following an attempt to cross the border.

A 17 years old from Eritrea was in a coma for two weeks, suspended between life and death after being hit by a lorry. He survived but with severe head and facial injuries, was unable to talk or to walk unaided and only able to feed through a tube inserted in his mouth. The local press have just started a migrant-blaming campaign because of a small barricade people made with some  branches to try stop some lorries. One lorry driver was lightly injured and the Nord Littoral run a front page,  2nd and 3rd page, with the dramatic title: End of the Truce – as if it was a war! The Nord Littoral has turned totally racist. I never remember seeing three front pages when somebody died or was maimed for life. But deaths and serious injuries happen only to migrants, who are not treated as humans.

 

 

I probably need to stress, since it is not obvious to everybody, that people are actually being treated in the most abysmal manner, it is not me who is ‘representing them as victims’. People are braving the most appalling violence and surviving the most appalling conditions in their struggle to cross this border, and they are bearing with the most amazing courage and dignity, you see many smiley faces and very little desperation but the situation in Calais is really terrible. We need more political action to challenge this situation.

No more showers. People going to take a shower have been arrested, there is a scabies epidemic, and Secours Catholique, who were providing some showers, had to stop, though they manage to open a day centre.  Local people try provide some showers in their homes, and an American woman started renting some AirBnB, offering people showers, causing a little storm in the racist local press after racist neighbours reported unusual activity to the police.

food.distrib

Food distribution

 

The mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart tried to stop food distributions but her order was overturned by the judge when the charities took the mayor to court: there is no law that stops charities feeding hungry people. The mayor has appealed against the sentence but in the meantime distributions continue. Police are however disturbing food distributions in the jungle: they arrive at 7 pm and herd everybody in the woods under threat of violence and CS gas; anybody who has no papers can be arrested. At 7 pm people are still eating or getting blankets or playing football with their friends but they have to run and hide in the woods like hunted animals. Volunteers are also controlled, harassed and intimidated. This video taken by a volunteer shows the violent arrest of a minor (minors are not supposed to be arrested)  https://www.facebook.com/lucie.favry/videos/10212790256256282/

end.food.disrib

End of food distribution

 

Police have stopped food distributions near the train station altogether, saying they cause a security hazard by drawing crowds near the station. No written order was ever produced. Volunteers giving food and tea near the station were also able to monitor arrests, and provide some support, advice and information to people who just arrived.

Food distributions near the park or in other places in the city are being disturbed by police too. It is so lovely to see the parks full of migrant people again, after many months of total segregation in the ‘jungle’. Young Africans play football with local kids, young mothers disturb the Afghan cricket by passing in the middle with babies and prams –  they are clearly not afraid, elderly residents play boules next to the migrants… and people make friends, meet girlfriends, sometimes have babies, it is how integration begins. Police, however, have carried out some raids in the parks too, asking everybody for papers and arresting those without papers. Some African teenagers were sprayed in the face and told to go to the jungle. Local people and volunteers keep watch: many Calais people also hate the police and like the migrants. But police keep going there. The 25/05 there were lots of arrests in Park St Pierre. The day after police returned but they found nobody except people with papers, happily sitting around, chatting or playing cricket. The police, some big bullies armed with gas, looked baffled. All those without papers had disappeared, and returned to the park later…

However things are getting worst. A new order has been produced forbidding everybody to sit or lay on the grass, eating in the parks, sleeping on benches.  New security has been hired and we are expecting repression to rise in the next weeks.

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Happy hours: Afghans playing cricket in the park

How many migrants in Calais? It is a guess. 350 according to the police, between 400 and 600 according to some associations, 800  according to others but with so many people coming and going and hiding it is totally impossible to make a count. I personally think there are more than 800 people. Refugee Calais Kitchen (RCK) prepare 1300 meals per day but the meals are distributed in various places and not all at once: some people eat twice, others do not eat from the kitchen but rely on friends or on their own resources. Most people are from Afghanistan, the Eritreans who dominated the Calais scene for a while are still numerous but fewer, there are very few Sudanese, there are quite many Ethiopians including many Oromo, few Kurds, Arabs and others. Lots of tensions and fights, also big ones, usually on the lines of different ethnic groups. Access to the ex-jungle that was razed in October is forbidden  and large swathes of the Dunes are off-limits now because  of the extension of the ferry port that is underway. There are too many people crammed in a relatively small area. They are competing for territory and for the few points of passage, any lorry park, any junction or petrol station – very ugly scenes when the police arrive and disperse them with gas and truncheons. Alcohol and frustration add to the problem. The facebook page of the fascistic militias Calaisiens en colere has been taken down recently but they are still active hunting migrants and passing information to the police. The Voix du Nord published an article with a map of where most people sleep, in case anyone did not know, indicating that migrants are a problem for businesses and local people – no voice given to the migrants, they are not humans, they are just a problem.  http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/166504/article/2017-05-22/quatre-lieux-de-calais-ou-les-migrants-se-regroupent-et-s-abritent# People who sleep in the parks or in other places are not counted in the article.

IMG_7877

Police operation 25/05: some tents were destroyed and an African man allegedly ran over by a police vehicle on this spot

 

GRANDE SYNTHE (DUNKIRK)

A makeshift camp at Poithouk (a very Flemish word meaning ‘pond’),  near Grande-Synthe, was evicted on the 19/05.  About 250 people including many families with young children slept there. The majority are Kurds from Northern Iraq but there are also many Afghans. https://www.facebook.com/adrian.torres.71868964/posts/10158815083145061?pnref=story

People returned, sleeping without tents and without shelters.  On 24/05 police returned to the camp at 7 am, ordered everybody to leave and destroyed the only shelter, a very tiny shelter where two girls aged 3 and 6 slept. People went to sleep on the side of the motorway or hiding in the bushes Most families (15) who were there had been moved forcibly to a CAO in Lille but new families keep arriving. Children end up sleeping in the woods with no shelter.

IMG_7853.JPG

After being moved by police people rest by the side of the motorway, in the middle a family with two little girls. Others have gone to hide in the bushes

A video worth a thousand words: https://www.facebook.com/solidarityforall.be/videos/1849873178607175/  living conditions  are in the middle section of the film.

 

A camp of 300 people not willing to disperse was evicted and destructed shortly after the demise of the official camp.

http://www.lepharedunkerquois.fr/fait-divers/grande-synthe-300-refugies-dans-un-camp-sauvage-photos-ia685b0n205669

The ‘humanitarian’ camp of la Linière (Grande Synthe) was burned to the ground during a fight between Kurdish and Afghans. The ‘official’ camp was obtained by the mayor of Grande Synthe Damien Careme – the government  did not want any camp in the area, and represented a more humane alternative to an informal camp at Grande-Synthe’s Basroch neighbourhood, where thousands of people including families camped in the mud, with rats running about, with a half a dozen showers and a dozen chemical toilets. In the new camp there were plenty of showers and flushing toilets; pity women and children were raped in the showers and the women’s toilets were built next to the men’s and had no keys. Volunteers from the Women’s centre started putting locks on the toilets and employees from Afeji tried to stop them. What were smugglers doing in an official humanitarian camp is another question but effectively the camp was run by Kurdish mafia and the mafia in Grande-Synthe have always been the craziest and the most dangerous.  The association Afeji who replaced Utopia56 in the management of the camp did a thoroughly bad job,  they had absolutely no experience but got a lucrative contract in the refugees business – like the association La vie active who managed the Jules-Ferry centre and the containers camp and had never worked in Calais before. The main mistake, however, was to amass all the people in Grande Synthe.  Women and children could not go out their tiny huts at night for fear of being raped. Rather than demanding more security and that women and children are separated from single adult men, as by all child protection rules, charities like Gynecologie Sans Frontieres started distributing diapers for the women and children to wear at night so they did not have to go out to use the toilets. I really do not know what would be the ‘international standards’ by which this camp was supposedly built: the wooden huts were very small, windowless and not waterproofed, most huts were rotting with mold; fire regulations were not respected and the huts were too near to each other.  I cannot understand how Medicins Sans Frontieres, who do such amazing work in other places, did such a  bad job in Dunkirk with the construction of that camp. At least in Calais ‘jungle’ huts were nice and covered with tarpaulin, that could also be painted over with beautiful graffiti, huts were built where the jungle’s residents wanted them, not on endless rows of huts with numbers, people could sleep where they choose and next to their friends and so protect each other, and there were mosques, churches, restaurants, shops and even clubs and a cinema… In Grande-Synthe’s Linière Muslims  prayed in the open air and there were no places for social life, apart from the communal kitchens, where people ended up sleeping, head to feet and on top of each other, on the tables, under the tables, on the floors, wherever they could squeeze in because the administration wanted to reduce numbers so some huts were removed and no new huts were built. Calais ‘jungle’  was pretty shit, but still better and a bit less dangerous than the ‘official’ camp at Grande Synthe. That was really made of the stuff of nightmares, but still better than everybody sleeping rough in the woods here and there and everywhere with police chasing them. And nobody to see what happens to them!

Adieu la Linière:

On the 10th April there was a big fight in the ‘humanitarian ‘ camp  between Afghans and Kurds that started on  around 6 pm, with stones being thrown and men running after each other with knives. Children were terrified and screaming, parents desperate to get them out the camp. By 8 pm most people were outside the camp. At 9 pm gunfire was heard inside the camp and fires started: first burned  the first of  three communal kitchens  where Afghans slept, and where the 6 pm fight had started. The Afghans retaliated and there were molotov cocktails flying everywhere and the entire camp started burning. Police did nothing except throwing  gas grenades that notoriously cause fires too.  By 10 pm 80% of the camp had gone up in smoke and everything was quiet again. Many people lost everything. It seems that the origin of the big fight was tensions and rivalry between Kurdish and Afghan mafia inside the camp.  Shortly before the fight that destroyed the ‘humanitarian’ camp there was another fight between Afghan and Kurdish smugglers for the control of a certain lorry park.

Video taken by some of the camp’s residents:  https://www.facebook.com/chiara.lauvergnac/videos/10154831564969092/

People were moved to shelters improvised in crammed sports halls, except most Afghans, including many unaccompanied minors, spent the first night in the woods hiding from the Kurdish mafia who had threatened to kill them and they have many guns. It was cold and they did not have blankets but the day after most Afghans turned up in the shelters. – there were shelters especially for Afghans who had to separate from other nationalities. The Kurdish families did not want to stay in the sports hall, they went and sat with their children  in front of the riot police who were stopping access to the camp demanding to  re-enter because the overcrowding in the sports hall was extreme and they had no privacy at all . They were not allowed in. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/12/riot-police-stop-refugees-returning-to-dunkirk-camp-destroyed-by-fire  The article is quite imprecise but the pics are very very interesting.

 1200 people were later transferred to CAO by coaches, dispersed across France. There were over 1600 people in the camp. Some of the unaccompanied minors who were in the camp went to shelters but others disappeared. There were at least 120 minors according to the children’s services and the Dunkirk Legal Centre. Many of the people who were sent to CAO have  left  already and have returned to Calais or Dunkirk to try pass to England.  The authorities announced there will be no more official camp in the Dunkirk area.

https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/fire-at-the-grand-synthe-camp-minors-have-been-abandoned/

UNICEF ‘concerned’ about the minors evicted from the official camp, reports of violence and exploitation http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/child-refugees-migrants-dunkirk-calais-france-unicef-people-trafficking-smugglers-a7689051.html /but not ‘concerned’ enough to do anything about it, they are not even here, like the UNHCR, the Red Cross and all big NGOs, all absent from Calais, Dunkirk etc.

 

NORRENT-FONTES AND OTHER CAMPS AND SQUATS THREATENED WITH EVICTION

Norrent-Fontes (Isebergues) is also threatened with eviction. The camp has existed for over 20 years and is hosting about 70 people mostly from Eritrea including many women. The association Terre d’Errance provides help to the camp and not only in terms of blankets and food: people are also supported in terms of accessing services and defending their rights. Terre d’Errance have written a letter to the new President of France asking not to destroy the camp until real solutions are found. The letter is signed by other associations too. Steenvorde (Hazebrouk) camp, also in the region, has been destroyed again and again but people keep returning – good news has it that over 20 people have recently passed to England from there. Similarly, people keep returning to Calais and Dunkirk without even a tent to sleep in.

Elsewhere, at least fifteen camps and squats are threatened with
destruction and several hundred men, women and children
fear eviction: in Champs sur Marne, more than 90 people
are targeted by a  scheduled eviction .                                                                                                     In Choisy Le Roi, 80 people are threatened with eviction.
In Sucy en Brie, 30 people are threatened with eviction.
In Alfortville 15 people could be evicted at the end of
the school year.
In Rungis, an eviction of 180 to 200 people has been announced for the
end of school year.
In Evry, 80 families are threatened with eviction.
In Osny, a hostel of 11 people and another of 4 people, all citizens of the European Union could be evicted.
In Triel sur Seine, 42 families are afraid of being evicted.
In Villeneuve Saint Georges the Town Hall have  issued an
eviction order that concerns about a hundred people.
In Aix, Arles, St Denis, Lille and Ronchin, evictions are also announced.

Source: Terre d’Errance, Norrent Fontes

 

PARIS LATEST EVICTIONS

1600 people were evicted on the 12th May, kicked out early morning from their tents at porte de la Chapelle under threat of violence by numerous riot police and put into buses for CAO. All tents and bedding were destroyed.

Photos and report of the eviction:

thttps://www.facebooe com/rose.lecat/media_set?set=a.10155343680986602.1073741919.626931601&type=3&pnref=story

See also: https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/eviction-of-porte-de-la-chapelle-camps-when-insufficiency-calls-for-violence/

But people keep arriving. The official ‘humanitarian’ camp opened by the ‘socialist’ mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (400 places) absorbs only a minority of the numerous refugees who arrive in Paris. People queue all night to get in. Often they still are told there is no place and to come back the day after. Very ugly scenes every morning when people who have been queuing all night and are told to go away try to enter anyway and are attacked by police, watch the video:   https://www.facebook.com/edu.granados.9/posts/1442504379171264

In the ‘humaitarian’ camp they sleep in containers inside a squalid disused hangar, behind the absurdly bright bubble that is at the entrance. Clothes and facilities are minimal, really there isn’t much. The humanitarian camp functions as sorting place for people towards CAO. People are not given the correct information, for instance they are not told that if they have fingerprints in Dublin countries they can be deported there.  The camp is run by Emmaus, Utopia56 helping. Many more people sleep outside, in many different places but the highest concentration is at porte de la Chapelle. Police destroy tents and blankets. The Town Hall  even put stones to prevent people  from sleeping – the stones were cut and removed by citizens in solidarity with refugees. Like in Calais and Dunkirk people sleep out in Paris with only blankets and sleeping bags, exposed to police violence, exposed to arrests and police destroy blankets too.  The official camp only takes adult men. The promised camp for women and children never saw the light. Many women and children are accommodated by volunteers and concerned citizens, at at their own expenses, the French State does not put a penny. The 115 number for emergency accommodation is always full. The Red Cross, who run some services for minors, keep refusing accommodation to all minors who cannot prove their age. Bed spaces moreover are totally insufficient. Many minors end up sleeping out.

DEMONSTRATION 2nd June

https://www.facebook.com/events/715311468648525/

Solidarité migrants Wilson's photo.

Rassemblement le 2 juin Porte de la Chapelle

 

What’s wrong with CAO?

Dispersing people in temporary accommodation simply is not working, not for all anyway, not for all the new people who arrive and do not find a place, not for all the people with Dublin fingerprints, who can be deported back there but often are not told that or they are lied to, there are protests and hungers strikes in CAO  against deportations. Living conditions vary very much and some CAO are nice others are truly horrible. CAO stands for Centre d’Accueil et Orientation but in fact the orientation is absent, except where there are local associations and volunteers to provide it. No information, not enough interpreters, no much chance to make a good application for asylum leading to a larger number of deportations. Dispersion and making people invisible. CAO are not detention centres and not close camps, people can come and go as they wish and they can leave any time but if they leave  they are not entitled to any State support for two years. They can stay unconditionally for about 2 months but after the only solution on offer is to apply for asylum in France. Not all people want to apply for asylum in France and many want to go to England or other countries.  There are ever increasing numbers of people sleeping in the streets or in the woods, in Calais, Paris, Dunkirk etc, in ever worsening and more life-threatening conditions: people who have just arrived and people who are leaving CAO because it does provide a solution for them.

What is wrong with associations?

The associations  are not challenging the very politics that lead to this appalling state of affairs; quite the opposite, there is often collaboration of associations with government, even in implementing policies that are not in the best interest of the migrants  and against their will. The issue is an old one, most associations seem to have double loyalties: to the institutions and to the people they are supposed to be helping. Only, the collaboration and written approval of the destruction of Calais ‘jungle’and dispersal of people to CAO by the presidents of Secours Catholique, Auberge des migrants, Emmaus, Medicins du Monde and FNARS seems to open a new era of open collaboration of charities and NGOs with the French State. I do not feel I can trust them after that and I do not understand how can anybody trust them or want to work with them.  They are often not very capable of managing anything more complex than aid distributions, such as court cases and political matters in general. (I am not saying out of spite or anger, I am saying because it is what I really and truly think). Most associations (the Auberge for instance)  claim to be non-political  but they do not limit themselves to giving blankets, instead they meddle with politics an awful lot.  I really think we need a new network of volunteers, activists and associations who are not inclined to collaborate with police and government and can be trusted by the migrants. And above all we need political action, solidarity means fighting the border regime not just giving humanitarian aid – though that is also vitally important, nobody can survive without food or blankets or walk without shoes, and is important in what way aid is given. Solidarity not charity! I am afraid the governments are going towards a final solution Nazi style, war and genocide are of their making, you see how many people are dying in the Mediterranean, the EU States do not care as long as they can get away with letting people drown;  people are pushed in the woods without means of survival, like in France, or are put into State camps where they would die of cold and starvation , like in Greece: 13 people died last winter in camps that had not been equipped for the winter but they would have died by the hundreds if it was not for the independent volunteers. People are deported back to countries at war, the UK and other Northern countries are sending people to their deaths, and Europe is preparing to deport many thousands more. Then how would you expect the same imperialists who are causing or fuelling wars worldwide to be kind to people when they come to Europe as refugees?  It is politics, the refugee crisis is not an humanitarian crisis, it is the result of politics. Giving blankets and food can keep people alive,  maybe not even that as living conditions deteriorate further and become increasingly life threatening, but what   future for the people? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Evictions and living conditions

 129 UNACCOMPANIED MINORS UNACCOUNTED FOR SINCE THE DEMOLITION

 

After the brutal eviction of the South side of the ‘jungle’, the authorities suddenly promised they will leave the North side standing for now. The promise was quickly broken.

A small section of the camp in the North side, near Jules-Ferry, has been evicted and destroyed, 40 people and 15 shelters that had been there for a very long time. Volunteers had just enough time to help people move.  A report:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/CalaisMigrantSolidarityActionFromUK/permalink/1029147200493360/

The hunger strike ends after 25 days 

Another illegal eviction : a squat opened by activists on Easter Sunday in a former homeless shelter was evicted by police and Town Hall authorities on the same day, illegally as the owner had not requested the eviction and procedures were not followed. 8 activists were arrested and charged with bullshit offenses: trespass, degradation, refuse to give a document ID. They walked free from court and issued the following report:

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/a-political-victory-une-victoire-politique/

 

zonesudburned

After completing the eviction of the South side, the authorities told the associations in
an official meeting that they will not evict the North side for the next two months,
and volunteers are welcome to keep working there and improve the conditions. Probably this sudden U-turn – originally they were determined to destroy everything and leave only the containers – comes from fear that people will spread along the coast as several smaller jungles were set up by migrants just before the eviction. Care4Calais counted 14 new camps with 15 to 150 people in each. Of course, there are more hidden camps, and quite a few people have gone to Belgium, despite Belgium closing the border. Existing ‘jungles’ in other places, like Hazebrouk and Norrent Fontes, have filled up three times their normal size with refugees coming from Calais.The new accommodation centres where people are taken by coach are not a great success and have a drop out rate of nearly 25%, i.e. a quarter of the people leave without saying anything, many have returned to Calais. So now we have several hundreds of  people spread along the coast and thousands of people crammed in the North side, feeling insecure and demoralised, but no significant reduction in numbers. New people continue to arrive. The government have done a new count of Calais jungle and found 3500 in all, but their numbers are always a gross underestimate. An independent count has just been published by the association Help Refugee, who shockingly found 129 minors have gone missing since the eviction! In total, refugees still in the Calais camp are 4946 according to Help Refugees, 4432 adults and 514 children, of whom 294 are unaccompanied minors. – read the full report here: 
but who can count all the people in new camps? The concentration-style container camp is now housing 1400 including 140 children, 85 unaccompanied. The blue tent camp, that is also securitized and run by La vie active, is quite empty because most tents are damaged and unusable.  170 women and children sleep inside Jules-Ferry, stuck like sardines in the containers there as the big heated tents are now damp and unusable, and more women sleep outside the centre. All around survives the autonomous anarchic jungle, only they are overcrowded in less than a third of the original size.

 

 

aubergejungleviction

The green band was evicted first, the part in the red is the South side that has just been evicted, all people who have not left are crammed in what remains, in the North side by the Jules-Ferry centre. You can see the white containers and the blue tents. Photo from the Auberge des migrants 

northside

There is a new autonomous family camp in the North side, housing some 200 families in donated caravans, lots of young children and babies – they have been barbarically gassed by CRS, ACAB, on Wednesday. The nearest water point is far from the family camp. Some newborn babies and their families are in hotels thanks to volunteers.
In the South side, the church, the boys’ centre , the No Borders info point and the school of chemin des Dunes are still standing. The legal centre continues to operate in the jungle but the cabin that hosted it  has been burned down in what is believed an arson attack. Jungle books and its radio have relocated to the North as well as Ashram kitchen. The independent women’s centre and Alice’s therapy centre have been lost because they could not be relocated. Everything else in the South has been bulldozed. A donated double-decker bus is replacing the women’s centre . Alice parked in the family camp and set up a new centre. Liz is still looking after the women and the unaccompanied minors,  most of the minors who were brutally evicted from the South side have relocated to the North side.
Volunteers have documented 6 cases of underage boys raped in the jungle in the last year, in some cases requiring hospital and stitches, and volunteers are saying some smugglers are targeting young boys for rape. It has been observed all through the migrants’ routes that some women – and some underage boys and girls too – sell sex to pay for their journeys as they have finished their money or have been robbed; this phenomenon  certainly does not stop in Calais. There is not much information about women being raped or pushed into prostitution as the women are reluctant to talk about it but it is clear as the light that in the jungle they have no protection, other than from their friends, husbands, brothers and communities – which works well if women are well connected, but many women are alone, or they have to take a boyfriend just to avoid other men’s attention.  Some women get beaten and abused regularly especially when their boyfriends or husbands get drunk. Most are too scared to walk out these relationships and would not know where to go, they are trapped. Other women have learnt to stand up for themselves, it is a matter of assertiveness and being connected, make good friends. One woman led her male companions on protests and actions on the motorway; another ran a club all winter long, all by herself with a little help from her friends, but it is hard to be a woman in a male-dominated environment. Even the women who sleep inside Jules-Ferry are in the jungle as soon as they go out. Women and families are generally unhappy to be living next to lots of single men and have said so.
the new family camp in the North side

The new family camp in the North side

There have been more traffic and traffic jams after the Easter break, record number of vehicles. 
 
Wednesday 30th , around 5 PM, there was a traffic jam and hundreds of migrants from the jungle managed to get on the motorway . Police reacted by throwing gas grenades. As people withdrew, police started shooting at longer range and well into the camp where people live. All the ‘jungle’ was engulfed in thick clouds of CS gas including the family area, 200 families with young children. Grenades kept falling on the roofs and in the streets. One person was wounded.The shooting kept going until well past 6 PM.
There were more traffic jams Thursday the 31st in the morning and in the afternoon near the jungle. Once again the police used excessive force, using CS gas and the water cannon.

 

from volunteer James Cartwright to Calais Migrant Solidarity (No Borders):

What’s on my mind? Gassing children.  An incident outside the camp resulted in teargas being fired indiscriminately at 4000 people in Calais today. I say indiscriminately because we felt the effects on the other side of the camp and I’m pretty sure they weren’t aiming for us. Between us and the spewing gas-cannisters was the family-area. We looked into purchasing gas-masks for children a while back, as this is not an isolated incident. They don’t make them. Because even fucking arms-manufacturers seemingly can’t envisage a time when you’d fire teargas at children. The French riot police clearly have a more vile and lurid imagination. Utter fucking inhuman bastards. And by the way, British taxes help fund this policing. We paid these collaborators to take hungry, poorly children and poison them in their makeshift homes.

some film and photos here:
but we need more photo and video evidence! If you have please send or send the links, thanks!
 
Fascists and cops
Attacks from far-right militias against migrants stopped for a while after some of the perpetrators were arrested but have resumed. Usually the attacks happen at night and involve groups of men and also some women armed with iron bars, chains, knives, gas and guns. The fash usually go around in cars and in large groups targeting refugees who are isolated or in small groups. They also attack activists and volunteers.  Sometimes people including underage boys have been kidnapped and beaten unconscious, they were robbed and many had broken bones. Gael Rougemont, who pointed a gun at the migrants during the pro-immigrants demonstration the 23rd January, was acquitted by the judge for ‘legitimate defense’! Other nazis are awaiting trial.
This unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan had an arm broken by a paramilitary militia of 10 they also stole his phone

This unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan had an arm broken by a paramilitary militia of 10; they also stole his mobile phone. Patriots or cowards? 

 Most of the violence though comes from the POLICE.
An independent survey conducted by the non-profit organization Refugees Rights on 850 people in the jungle chosen at random found that:
  • 73% of respondents have experienced police violence
  • 16.7% reported verbal abuse, 41.1% being exposed to tear gas, 28.3% physical violence, and 1% sexual violence
  • 57% have experienced tear gas ‘every day’ or ‘many times a week’. 17.4% have experienced tear gas ‘once a week’
  • 69.4% expressed that police treatment of refugees is ‘very bad’ or ‘bad’
  • 45.4% of respondents have experienced violence by citizens (non-police such as far-right groups)
  •  28.9% reported verbal abuse, 27.1% physical violence, and 1.4% sexual violenceIn total,
  • 86% of the children surveyed said they have experienced police violence since arriving in the camp. Of these, 61.2% were subject to physical violence and 28.1% verbal abuse. 95.9% reported being exposed to tear gas.Meanwhile, 49.6% of children responded that they have experienced violence by non-police citizens – 36.4% physical violence and 25.6% verbal abuse.44.6% of the children have family in the UK.For further statistics, visit http://refugeerights.org.uk/press-releases/
 IMG_1082
Fires and fights
There has been a big fire in the North side, several shelters were destroyed. There has been a very big fight between Afghans and Sudanese, resulting in 17 Afghans in hospital, one lost one eye, and 20 Sudanese, one in serious condition but he survived. Allegedly the reason for the fight was a contended bicycle some Afghans had taken from a Sudanese. A big number of Sudanese went to  attack the Afghans in their camp – thoroughly a bad idea because the Afghans defend their territory and all join the fight like one and they are fearless: in fact, the Sudanese lost. I personally doubt that a bicycle alone, besides providing a trigger, can cause such a terrifying fight and I would look for a reason at the parkings near Marck, as there have been big massive fights for the control of these parkings in the past and these fights often continue in the camps where people live That is me playing Sherlock Holmes. I do not know, and people are reluctant to talk about. I am more concerned that fights should be kept out the camps where people live. Before the eviction of the South side there had been no big fights in the jungle for a long time, people and community elders managed very well to keep things together. In fact, the jungle was a model of community spirit and self- organization and a brilliant example of how people can live togehter without police or central authority: truly amazing, considering there were nearly 10.000 people at some point, from many different nationalities and ethnic groups. It can be the case that the sudden relocation of so many people to the North side has caused new problems besides the obvious stress from overcrowding. Volunteers are  saying the relocation has accelerated the formation of hierarchies inside the camp –  usually who creates hierarchies are the smugglers. Probably it means that people now find it more difficult to get away from the mafia for lack of space, or that people are under more pressure to support smugglers of their own nationality against others. This is a place  where there are thousands of people traumatised by wars, persecution, and deadly journeys, and there are several hundreds of women and children of all ages living in appalling  conditions under gas attacks, beatings by police and far-right militias, danger of fires, danger of fights, danger of sexual assaults.
 Destruction of the AFG camp in the South side
EVICTION OF THE SOUTH SIDE

 

Videos of the destruction of the ‘jungle’s South side
A video of the ‘jungle’ before the eviction of the South side:
Best sources of information on Calais are still
and Passeurs d’hospitalitees https://passeursdhospitalites.wordpress.com/
  
Volunteers and associations are a good source.
The mainstream media cannot be trusted.