Calais camp flooded during heavy rains

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via Refugee Info Bus: Wind and rain in the Calais refugee camp. These small weekend camping tents are not good enough for a human to live in. The “jungle” is half dumping ground and half sand dunes. The natural water level is only one or two feet below ground level. So every time there is a hard down pour, homes, bedding and possessions get flooded.

With rain predicted for the next week, there is nowhere to dry off. Overcrowding is so bad that most in the flooded areas have nowhere else to move to. The Refugee Crisis in Europe is a political problem but on a day like today, we only see the humanitarian disaster.

#WeStandWithYou

Editor’s note: I disagree it can be seen as an humanitarian disaster: the authors of this disaster are the politicians who forced people to live here, instead of providing them with proper accommodation, and now are threatening to destroy the ‘jungle’ – that is not even a jungle, jungles were autonomous self-organized places on ground chosen and squatted by the migrants not by chosen by the government, this is a dumping ground for people. The associations, Medicins Sans Frontieres for the first, said it for the beginning: this place is not suitable to host a camp, because it gets flooded due to layers of clay under the sand.

NOW THERE ARE OVER 10.000 INNOCENT MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN CRAMMED THERE, AMASSED IN THE NORTH SIDE AFTER THE EVICTION OF THE SOUTH SIDE, THAT IS LESS THAN 1/3 OF THE ORIGINAL SIZE OF THE CAMP, AND THE MOST VULNERABLE TO FLOODING; IN TOTALLY OVERCROWDED SITUATIONS, AND NEW PEOPLE KEEP ARRIVING, UP TO 100 PER DAY! And the authorities are stopping volunteers from bringing materials for building shelters into the camp, thus people are condemned to live in tents.

We urgently need humanitarian aid, but most of all we need political solutions, opening the border(s) and decent housing for all!!!

 

Refugees Welcome Here demonstration in London, 17th September 2016

 

Over 20.000 people estimated to attend. Lively demonstration, with Syrian and Afghan refugees at the front. Calais came second row, as volunteers and activists brought banners made by children living in Calais camp.

The march went from Marble Arch (Park Lane) to Parlaiment passing Trafalgar Square and Downing Street. There was a rally in Parlarliament Square. The politicians’ speeches were boring, quite frankly, none of them seemed to have much to say – except, of course, Lord Dubbs, and he kept his speech very short and to the point. THIS was another interesting speech (the boy is saying he is very lucky to be here and thank you everybody for welcoming him and his family, but many others are not so lucky and they are still dying or languishing in refugee camps):At the end of the rally there was a skype connection with Calais, direct from the ‘jungle’, and a Calais activist got to announce the 1st October demonstration from the stage –  asking people to support and add the name of their organisations. Leaflets of the demo in Calais were distributed during the march and rally.

 

 

Direct from Calais ‘jungle’ / courtesy of Calais Refugee Info Bus

A few problems with security, behaving in quite authoritarian manner – it is rumored they hired private security. It ended with Syrian musicians playing freedom songs and traditional music on stage, and people dancing in the green in front of Parliament. Good day altogether, good to see so many people in UK supporting refugees and other migrants!

-A short film will follow, ASAP-

All photos are nicked from other activists and volunteers, many thanks to Solidarity with Refugees, Daniela Garcia, Refugee Info Bus

Calais goes to London: Refugees Welcome Here demonstration, 17th September

We are happy to announce that many people are going from Calais to the Refugees Welcome demonstration in London: activists, volunteers and peopole from the ‘jungle’ who made it! We will be at the head of the march, carrying the banners children living in the camp made.

DEMONSTRATION IN LONDON:

https://www.facebook.com/events/709215812549923/

Call out to DEMONSTRATION IN CALAIS 1st October 2016 MIGRANTS WELCOME!

MIGRANTS WELCOME!

 

Against the eviction of Calais ‘jungle’ /For freedom of movement

iMPORTANT UPDATES HERE: https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/the-destruction-of-the-calais-shantytownthe-governments-megaloplan/

AGAINST THE EVICTION OF CALAIS ‘JUNGLE’

FOR REAL SOLUTIONS AND PROPER ACCOMMODATION

FOR THE OPENING OF BORDERS AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

FOR AN END TO DEATHS AT THE BORDERS

Refugees and other migrants should be able to travel freely and resettle in a country of their choice.

European countries should take in a number of refugees proportionate to their size/ population/ resources and distribute them equally inside their territory – instead of letting them accummulate in places like Calais, Lampedusa, the Greek Islands.

The situation in Calais is tragic and unsustainable, for the refugees in the first place, but it creates huge problems  for the local population and for the drivers in transit too. The closure of the border is to blame, not the refugees. The inhumane and demented politics of the UK and French governments are to blame. They have created this situation in the first place. It is unimaginable that 10.000 men women and children can live there.

Recent talks between Theresa May and the French Interior minister have re-affirmed ‘co-operation’ between the two countries, border controls in Calais, and the treaty of Toquet, by virtue of which the UK border is in France, stays in place. With all the consequences we can see.

The destruction of what remains of the ‘jungle’ will acheive nothing but creating more death and suffering for those who pass through Calais, and more problems for the local population. The destruction of the North side of the ‘jungle’ will not result in people going away, it will result in people spreading all along the coast and inside the Calais region; it will result in new informal camps popping up everywhere, people will be more exposed to violence by police, mafia and fascists, and less easy to reach by humanitarian associations and volunteers. The most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied minors and families with young children, will be the most affected.

The destruction of the South side of the ‘jungle’ did not result in a reduction in numbers, as everybody can see. The destruction of the South side was carried out by riot police (CRS and gendarmerie) in the most violent and dangerous manner with great use of CS gas and causing many fires – the entire Afghan section of the camp was burned to ashes. Every day people are hit by police (CRS) on the motorway, sprayed in the face, including women and children, and flashballs are fired directly into the crowd, causing untold numbers of horrendous and oftern life-threatening injuries.

We do not support the existence of the ‘jungle’. It is not fit for human habitation and it is not even a jungle but a dumping ground for people choosen by the French government and the Interior minister bernard cazeneuve (not deserving of capital letter) in a Seveso-classed area, where they are surrounded by a couple thousands very violent riot police. Calais jungles were truly autonomous spaces on land choosen and squatted by the people themselves.

People leave their countries because they want to live and not to die, and repressive measures are not stopping them from coming. We are in the middle of the biggest refugee crisis since WW2. Taller fences and stricter immigration controls are not stopping people from coming, they are only causing unprecedented numbers of people to die at the borders of Europe. People leave their countries for very pressing reasons because of war, persecution, extreme poverty, climate change. Most would never leave if it was not for saving their lives. Most would like to go back to their countries if they could. Capitalism in its current stage  is creating more wars, instability, hunger and envrionmental disaster than ever before.

It would be naive to expect that the same economic and political agents who are creating such disasters could also provide a solution. The only solution would require the overthoring of the ruling classes and to establish different societies based on equality, cooperation, sharing of resources, human rights and respect for life.

The situation in Calais has been left to degenerate. To resolve the problem it would be necessary to offer people decent accommodation elsewhere, and the possibility to be accepted and resettle either in France, in the UK or in another country. Strong repessive measure not only are inhumane but they do not work, as Calais’s migration history since the closure of the camp at Sangatte (2002) clearly demonstrates.

What is wrong with the ‘solutions’ proposed by the French government?

-The number of places offered in CAOs (Centres Accueil et Orientation) is insufficient.

– CAOs are only temporary.

– The only solution on offer is to ask for asylum in France. How many people do you want to ask for asylum in France? Why cannot they make different choices? Why should them all be co-opted to apply for asylum in France? The Legal Centre in the jungle and the Info Point aim at giving people information / help with the process of applying for asylum either in France, in the UK, or in other European countries, people can make choices.

– Those who have finger prints in European countries other than France are deported there directly from CAOs, usually.

– The ‘orientation’ is absent, except where there are associations and volunteers providing it.

– The quality of accommodation variates very much, some CAOs are very nice, others are dreadful. Moreover, some CAOs are in small villages or in the middle of nowhere, leaving people totally isolated.

– Adults, kids, men, women are mixed together with no consideration for privacy and safety.

– Drop our rate from the CAOs is very high, average 45%. Those who drop out are punished by being left without any State support for 18 months, therefore falling into destitution.

– France in general, and Calais in particular, have high unemployement rates, leaving people little chance to work and integrate.

– Refusal rates of asylum applications are very high, and on the rise. Of course for some individuals, nationalities and groups is worth considering applying for asylum in France, but others have much better chances to be accepted elsewhere.

Housing is an unconditional right, people are entitled to housing because they are people. A house is a house, not a camp, not an hotel or holiday place, not a cabin in the ‘jungle’, not a tent in an informal camp in the woods and not a sleeping bag by the side of the road.

To ‘house’ people in a place like the ‘jungle’ is a clear violation of their human rights. However a violent eviction will only lead to more injuries, and possibility deaths. It will not solve any problems for the local population, it will only create new ones.

Calais problems, such as the highest rate of unemployement in the whole of France, are real and do exist independetly, have other origins than the migrants in Calais. It is not the migrants’ fault if around 90% of the merchanidse directed to the UK pass through Calais and the residents do not even get the breadcrumbs – though they suffer the consequences, such as very high air pollution. The fact that lorry drivers often get in trouble with migrants trying to board the lorries has no effect on the Calais economy. It is scary for the drivers, but no driver has died so far; instead lots of migrants have died, or have been seriously injured on the motorway and near the Eurostar. The little toursim from the UK from which Calais was benefitting many years ago ceased long before the refugee crisis, mainly due to increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco.

The so called ‘jungle’, the shanty town by the centre Jules-Ferry is not a nice place. Nobody but absolutely nobody wants to be there. Segregation has only exacerbated racist feelings. When migrants could be seen in or near the city there was a relationship with the locals, sometimes tense, sometimes of solidarity, however a relationship. Maybe,  when cazeneuve forced people out of town and out of sight, he did not notice there is a motorway next to the Lande,  or he did not care. The motorway with annexed ‘jungle’ is the media circus from where racist and xenophobic feelings are spinned. Damn right that ‘jungle’ shoud disappear. But not by means of a violent eviction.

 

Details

The ‘jungle’ refugee camp faces destruction by the French government following the visit of Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve and now a blockade starting on Monday by local businesses, truckers and dockers.

The refugees have been attacked by the French and British governments and a hostile press. Rather than taking on their responsibilities to those escaping war and poverty both governments are scapegoating them.

We want to show our solidarity with the refugees, oppose the destruction of the camp and demand that the UK government acts on the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Bill (allowing unaccompanied child refugees into Britain) now as a first step to offering the support and solidarity that is needed.

Join the emergency protest.

Blockade of the A16 announced for the 5th September until the destruction of the ‘jungle’/ cazeneuve to visit Calais again/ ‘New’ accords UK/ France

Please keep watching this page for updates on the situation

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/02/france-vows-to-dismantle-jungle-refugee-camp-calais

cazeneuve says they will”gradually” dismantle the camp. We saw what happened during the destruction of the South side, police firing gas and burning buildings  indiscriminately, whilst bulldozers wrecked people’s homes; and police fire rubber bullets and gas greandes directly into the crowd on the motorway, causing an awful lot of horrendous and potentially life-threatening injuries. They are sending 200 more pigs to aid the”battle against the migrants”. Belligerent language to appease the fascists.

New accords UK – France between Theresa May and the French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve: nothing to change, despite words of ‘improving the situation’ : France to keep guarding the border for the UK and the Toquet accords to stay in place (by virtue of which the UK border is in France)

https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/french-british-statement-above-all-that-nothing-moves/

Cazeneuve to visit Calais this Friday – The mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart is demanding that Cazeneuve orders the destruction of the ‘jungle’ . Cazeneuve is expected to negotiate with  locals, lorry drivers etc. who are threatening strong action.

https://passeursdhospitalitesenglish.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/the-xenophobes-whistle-the-minister-rushes-and-lies-2/

Lorry drivers and farmers announce ‘unlimited’ blockade of the A16 on Monday 5th September until the destruction of the ‘jungle’. Action called by the National Federation of Ports and Docks of the Port of Calais (apparently affiliated to the CGT, Confederation General du Travail – the poster, below, looks a bit crap, but it is all we got). Lorry drivers and farmers organize a ‘snail action’ (it means slowing down the traffic) followed by a blockade (meaning bringing traffic to a stanstill) of the A16 motorway around Calais on September the 5th. They are threatening to continue their action until the eviction of the North zone of the ‘jungle’ is announced. Drivers and farmers have set two meeting points at 7am Monday, September 5th:

– On the cargo area of Craywick in Loon-Plage

– The Auchan shopping center in Saint-Martin-Boulogne.

All will converge in a snail operation on the A16 towards Calais. Traffic promises to be very difficult in either side of the port city.

The “Grand Rally for Calais” gives an appointment to the citizens and traders at 9:00 am on the same day at the stage of the Epopèe. The protesters intend to form a human chain up the Port of Calais.  – some are even calling for the ‘eradication of No Borders’.

Anti-racists call for counter-demonstration on the same day. Associations are writing a letter condemning any forced displacement of refugees who are already in dire conditions, and decent solutions for their accommodation.

Note all demonstation in Calais have been forbidden since months in virtue of the state of emergency.

The government has appealed against the decision of Lille tribunal to stop the eviction of restaurants and shops in the ‘jungle’.

Links  to the French articles:

http://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/nord-pas-de-calais/migrants-calais-paris-et-londres-promettent-d-intensifier-les-efforts-pour-ameliorer-la-situation-1074801.html

One more death at Calais border / Clashes over the points of passage and in the ‘jungle’/ A shooting

jungleCalais

A young Sudanese man has died on the night between Monday and Tuesday, as a result of injuries sustained in a fight between Sudanese and Afghans. He was found by the side of the motorway near Marck, and was taken in charge by the emergency services, but he died shortly after 7.00 am. He was the 11th person to die at the Calais border this year, that we know of. A vigil was held in front of Park Richelieu the day after. Other 15 people were injured on the same night in fights on the A16. A fight broke up the following day in the camp. Numerous fights have occurred recently on the A16 between people of different communities, for access to the motorway. The communities held a meeting in the Mosque, where Afghans and Sudanese sat together, and it was decided nobody goes to try for the next two nights, until territorial disputes are discussed peacefully. However on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday another Sudanese man was shot in a leg (luckily he was not seriously injured), near Marquise (between Calais and Boulogne), supposedly by Kurdish smugglers. He managed to escape and shelter at the station Marquise-Rinxent, where the police found him around 3.30 am

http://www.nordlittoral.fr/accueil/un-soudanais-decede-suite-a-une-rixe-a-proximite-de-l-a16-ia0b0n338233

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/migrants-de-calais-un-mort-et-plusieurs-blesses-dans-la-ia33b48581n3692671

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/a16-un-migrant-blesse-par-arme-a-feu-dans-un-nouvel-ia31b49062n3694926

The pressure on the points of passage is incredible, smugglers are controlling most points of passage and fighting  other smugglers, or people who are simply trying to pass without paying. The ‘free’ points of passage are very few, they are closed by tall fences and guarded by very violent police,  and people are so desperate they are fighting each other for access to the motorway – it is unclear if there are gangs or established smugglers networks trying to take control of these ‘free’ crossing points. What is evident is that fights occur on the lines of different nationalities and ethnic groups. It is the effect of closing the border: people run on the motorway in their hundreds, clashing with each other and with the police; putting their lives at risk – we never had so many deaths and injuries at the Calais border; causing  hazard to lorry drivers and passing vehicles – but no lorry driver has died so far! The BBC has captured some of the action. The ‘analysis’ of this BBC journalist is clearly totally baseless, the weapons are actually bits of wood and the people identified as ‘traffickers’ could be anybody!

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-37186868

It is self-evident that the eviction of the South side of the ‘jungle’ has been totally useless in reducing numbers – instead problems in the camp and tensions between communities have greatly increased with the overcrowding, and the place is like a ‘pressure cooker’ as  volunteers from associations aptly put it. It is said everywhere that numbers of people in the ‘jungle’ are higher than ever. I am not sure.  At the end of last summer there were about the same numbers if not more, though no count was made at that time and it is just my impression, and the impression of  volunteers who were giving tents and blankets to newly arrived people: they were saying numbers may have been close to 10.000, same as now; with the difference people arriving now are more numerous than last year, on average…  and now they are crammed in less than 1/3 of the original size of the ‘jungle’. Up to 100 new people arrive per day, which causes no little problems. Demographics have chenged again and the Sudanese are again the most numerous group – until short ago the most numerous were the Afghans. All desperate to get out that horrid place,  trapped by the fence provided by the UK government, hurt by French poolice who use truncheons and gas even on women and children and  fire gas grenades and rubber bullets directly into the crowd, and threatened by smugglers if they stray into their ‘territory’. Smugglers’ networks have been greatly reinforced as a result of the border’s closure, prices have gone up, and the police themselves are saying they never arrested so many smugglers – but they are only catching small fish, not dismantling any networks. Independent and semi-independent smuggles who are generally nice to people and do not ask for too much money tend to be replaced by proper mafia men who are very violent, armed to the teeth with guns, knives and gas, some are known to abuse women and children. Yet the biggest criminals are those who are responsible for this situation, who have been forcing thousands of refugees to live in inhumane conditions  and pushed them into the hands of the mafia: such as bernard cazeneuve, manuel valls, françois hollande, the british government (cameron first and now theresa may), and the european union. What is most worrying and sad is that borders are closing everywhere in europe (this is not Europe as I have known it) and the Calais model is being exported, massively.

See also: https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/fuel/

POST SCRIPTUM:

There are currently over 1600 riot police present in Calais (previoulsly were 1300).

Earlier this year, not long after the eviction of the South side, a large portion of the North side was destroyed by fire in a huge fight that opposed Afghans, Kurds and generally light skinned people against Africans. The police did nothing but throwing gas on the camp from a distance, causing more fire, and they targeted exclusively the Africans. The day after, the (real) community leaders met and brokered the peace, and everybody did their part to prevent further fighting. The Holy month of Ramadan was very peaceful, the Afghans and the Sudanese prayed together in the Mosque. 

The worst fights happened in 2014, following a massive and sudden increase in numbers of people stranded in Calais and competition on the points of passage. The situation seems to be repeating now! I copy below what I wrote at the time, edited for shortness and with link to the full article. All jungles and squats mentioned in the post have been evicted and all people forced to move near the Jules-Ferry centre. 

Since the big and sudden influx of immigrants in 2014 there were high tensions between different communities, problems with alcohol and drunken fights, and fights over scarce resources that could become very violent.  Migrants have been progressively pushed out of town, despite some remarkable resistance, including occupations, protests and a hunger strike. The Jules-Ferry centre seems the ultimate achievement in rendering migrant people invisible, cast out society and exposed to violence by police, racists and others. It is close to smugglers’ territory– not all smugglers are bad but some are, and on the way to lorry parks that have been the theatre of very violent fights, resulting in several people hospitalized. These fights can sometimes continue for days, involve hundreds of people and expand to the camps where people are sleeping. During the year 2014 we had the worst fights ever. Several people were hospitalized with knife wounds, some almost lethal, and broken bones, after big fights of Egyptians, Sudanese and Albanians against Afghans – everybody wants to take the lorry park of the Afghans, that is defended by a gang of violent smugglers armed with guns, knives and CS gas; these smugglers also hurt other Afghans who try to cross, or simply want to sleep in places controlled by them without paying; they are very different from other Afghan smugglers ( from 2009 to 2013), who were mostly nice guys, would defend their territory from other smugglers but caused no problems otherwise, and were kind to their own people. 64 African people were hospitalized after two days of big fights between Sudanese and Eritreans, four in serious condition; these fights originated over the control of another lorry park, when the Sudanese wanted to stop the Eritreans from going there. Three days of battles between Eritreans and Ethiopians ensued after the Eritreans told the Ethiopians not to go any more to a parking they were using: I saw 400 people throwing stones at each other and running after their rivals armed with metal bars, just outside Tioxide jungle; the police managed to break that fight, and I must say they behaved well on that occasion, at least they did not use excessive force. The Eritreans told the Ethiopians to leave Tioxide and destroyed their tents; 50 Ethiopian and Eritrean women, children and some teenage boys went to sleep in the squat Galloo because they were afraid, or in the women’s house. It took time to bring peace between the two communities. More recently, there was a night time attack by Sudanese on innocent Afghans who were sleeping in bois Debruille, and have nothing to do with the smugglers – they moved there precisely to get away from their control. Several tents were slashed with knives including tents where some minors were sleeping. The Afghans reacted and beat the Sudanese up really bad. Afterwards, they brought the casualties to the road for the police and ambulances to collect them: one had a broken leg, another a head wound; one Afghan was also hospitalized, many escaped with minor injuries. The Afghans say they do not like doing things like that, but if attacked they defend themselves. I hope I did not give a bad impression of the Sudanese, most of whom are very nice people, only a minority are crazy.

The authorities know all this has been happening, but they do not care putting people in danger.

The centre Jules-Ferry, far from providing solutions to the refugee crisis in Calais, creates new problems that cannot be solved.
It is absurd to order people to relocate in a new jungle around the centre where they will be ‘tolerated’, as the ground is not suitable for building shelters or pitching tents.
The basic right of people to have some form of decent accommodation, regardless of their immigration status, is violated.
Concentrating too many people of different nationalities and ethnic groups in the same place creates a dangerous situation .
People will be pushed into the hands of smugglers.
There have been already several racist attacks near Jules-Ferry.
There are hunters shooting wild game near the J-F centre, and they do not want the migrants there.

Extractred from https://watchtheborders.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/calais-new-ghetto-new-fences-a-traffic-jam-and-more/