Last week the French police evicted four migrant camps in Calais. These were the only camps in the town itself. Monday’s evictions made it clear that the migrant population in Calais would only be allowed to live in the “jungle”, an area of land on the edge of the town (note: the word ‘jungle’ comes from the Pashto ‘dzangal’, meaning ‘forest’. The name comes from the Pashtun Jungle, a forested area in Calais occupied by Afghans back in 2009, but it is no coincidence that the media has continued to use this term to describe the camps…). The current camp population has swollen to 4000 people due to tightened security at the border and the greater difficulties crossing; 3 people have died trying to cross in the past two weeks. This article is gathered from Calais Migrant Solidarity and gives an update on the latest situation over there. [Read More]
Across Europe, people without papers are refusing to suffer the brutal border regime. From Hungary to France, people are cutting the fences, blocking trains and roads, occupying train stations and public buildings, self-organising and fighting. In Calais, the pace of struggle is picking up with large scale actions now happening on an every day basis, as well of course as individuals and groups taking on the fences every night. Here are reports from the last two days reposted from Calais Migrant Solidarity. Yesterday (Thursday) a crowd of hundreds blockaded the government’s aid distribution centre, demanding free movement not rotten crumbs of aid. Today the crowd marched into town to confront the politicians. Another big action is planned for tomorrow. [Read More]
Calais: The womens house is evicted, mass evictions due to start this week – callout from No Borders
The evictions have already started. Eviction is not just the moment when the police come to the jungles and squats and kick people out through a physical confrontation, but it begins way before. The women’s house Victor Hugo is a good example of this. The eviction on the 25th of March happened in a subtle way. The women and children living within Victor Hugo did not want to leave, but instead have been forced to move to the Jules Ferry Day Centre. They were evicted under the threat of violence. This imposed and non consensual arrangement has happened without considering the wishes, opinions, needs or safety of the women living in the Victor Hugo house. The media have supported this by talking about the eviction in terms of “moving out”, therefore this violence has been ignored and made invisible. This forced relocation is an example of how the state controls movement and physical bodies and how it perpetuates and reproduces violence against women. [Read More]
In April 2015 the municipality of Calais in collaboration with the socialist state government intends to open the Day Centre Jules Ferry for all migrants living in and around the city. This centre is sold by the government and its media as a humanitarian gesture. This is bullshit! This is a poor attempt to alleviate the catastrophic situation of the migrants here. A situation that is created by the very policies the government have put in place. The opening of the day centre will go along with the mass eviction of 2000 people and the destruction of their homes: the squats and jungles of Calais. [Read More]
On Sunday 7 September, local fascist group ‘Sauvons Calais’ will once again try to hold a demonstration ‘against immigration’ in Calais, bringing in hardcore neo-nazis from across France. A number of high-profile fascists have already confirmed their presence including Thomas Joly (general secretary of Parti de la France), Yvan Benedetti (conseiller municipal of Vénissieux and former-member of the now banned organization L’Œuvre française), and Richard Roudier (of Réseau Identités). It is also likely that some neonazi gangs will arrive before and stay for more time after the demo to attack vulnerable people in the streets. [Read More]
Never again ?!
We thought that we had witnessed the worst in 2009 with the destruction of the Afghan jungle; the mass arrest of 278 of its inhabitants and their coordinated detention across the whole of France. However, this Wednesday 2 July 2014 the state showed how much further it can go. At 6am the CRS, PAF, Gendarme, and the Police Nationale undertook massive coordinated evictions and raids against the migrant population of Calais.
At 6am this morning riot and border cops accompanied by gendarmes evicted three squats housing over seventy people as well as SALAM, a food distribution point, where over five-hundred people had been sleeping outside since their camps were destroyed a month ago.
As agreed, the refugees occupying the food distribution center had breakfast together this morning. They formed two groups, those who will continue to eat and those who are fasting. Those fasting had slightly larger portions. They sat in the middle of the courtyard. Yesterday, they made a list of 53 people willing to get involved. By late morning, there were more than thirty of them waiting for those who had tried to cross that night to join them – something they will no longer be able to do during the fast. This afternoon, we should know more precisely how many will participate in the hunger strike. [Read More]
After Natasha Bouchart, Senator-Mayor of Calais, presented her new anti-squatting law in the senate last week, the illegal evictions continue in Calais.
A new house was opened in Calais on the weekend of May 31st to 1st June. After a week of going unnoticed (to avoid possible eviction without a trial in the first 48 hour), the occupation was made public on Sunday, June 8 (despite some confusing information announcing it as “the next opening” published on the website of La Voix du Nord on Saturday, June 7th ), and the first contact was made with passersby, neighbors and the bar newsagent opposite. Some of them considered the occupation of this house, which has been empty for three years, totally legitimate. Another house on the street about fifty yards away is already squatted. [Read More]
On Friday, the migrants occupying the food distribution center brought a list of demands that they had agreed upon to the prefect and the media. At first, the prefect maintained that the 48 hour period in which they were to vacate the premises had expired and refused to enter a dialogue. However, seeing that they were determined to stay, he set up a meeting for today [Saturday] with the departmental Director of Social Cohesion, who was soon joined by the sub-prefect. They proposed a second meeting to the refugees next Tuesday, on the condition that by then they move to another place and leave the food distribution center. It seems that a meeting is planned Monday morning at the Ministry of the Interior regarding the situation of the migrants in Calais; the meeting on Tuesday will likely depend on the decisions taken Monday. The proposal to continue the dialogue in another location was accompanied by a threat: if the migrants did not leave the food distribution center on their own over the weekend, they would be evicted by force, arrested and sent back to their countries of origin. Of course, this poses the question of where should they go. The authorities let slip the idea of moving to the old municipal camp site. The state now stands before the contradiction of demanding that people leave one place only to occupy another, without permission, somewhere which inevitably belongs to someone. The site of the old camp grounds belongs to the city of Calais. [Read More]
Tomorrow, the occupation of SALAM by the inhabitants of the three camps evicted yesterday will enter its fourth day. They arrived early Tuesday morning, in anticipation of the destruction of their homes, at the food distribution center, which is normally closed except for an evening meal (and lunch on the weekend). They were looking for a safer space to stay, protected from the wind, the rain and the police, but also for a place to take a stand, to demand access to basic services and political consideration from the government, locally and across Europe. [Read More]
Today more than 300 police descended on Calais to evict three tent camps in the city centre which have existed since last October: the «Syrian camp», which was set up following the occupation of the port, the «Eritrean camp» under the bridge, which was established after the eviction of their squat, also in October, and a smaller camp close to the food distribution. Together these places were home to around 650 people in Calais. The state has tried to disguise this police operation as a humanitarian intervention, citing scabies and poor sanitation to justify destroying people’s homes without providing them with any alternative solution. They neglect to mention that these problems exist only because they have forced people to live in very crowded conditions without regular access to toilets, showers, or places to wash their clothes and bedding. They legitimize the paternal intervention of the state by painting a picture of migrants as diseased and unable to care for themselves, rather than accepting responsibility for creating the circumstances which have caused these problems. [Read More]