Calais: Another African squat threatened with eviction

The latest ‘Africa House’ is now at constant risk of eviction. About 40 people from Northern Africa, mainly Sudan, stay here. If evicted they will be made homeless and forced to live on the streets again.

A formal notice of eviction was fixed to the door of the squat on 13th August 2012 without any translation, stating the building will be evicted for reasons of hygiene and structural dangers. The Court of Appeal has already granted the owners, the Commune of Calais, ‘uncontested’ eviction procedure claiming none of the occupants could be identified therefore cannot contest the decision. Yet the police forcefully take the identities of people here all the time. This squat has been regularly raided for ID controls and arrests.

The court order means people will be forcefully evicted if they do no leave voluntarily. Shortly after the notice was given the police threatened people that they have to leave the premises.

Evictions are usually a big operation with the border police, Police Aux Frontières, the riot police, Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, Police Nationale and Police Municipale all working together.

This squat is a little out of town. It has been a quiet squat to people who want to escape the city centre for a long time. In the last few months more people have moved there since all the squats in the city centre have been evicted and/or demolished.

In March this year, the biggest migrant squat in Calais, the former ‘Africa House’, was evicted. Since then, many people with and without papers have been depending on smaller squats for shelter to avoid sleeping on Calais’ violent streets. However, these spaces have been continually raided and at least another ten squats have been evicted since March, including an Iranian squat, an Eritrean squat, a Somali squat, a Palestinian and Egyptian squat, a Sudanese squat and some mixed ‘global’ squats with people from Sudan, Eritrea, Chad, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq.

This includes some long standing bigger squats that have been shelter to people for years, ie Africa House, Palestine House, Paradise House (an Eritrean squat) and The Villa (a mixed squat). These buildings were old factories or schools, falling apart buildings with no electricity or water etc. Although living conditions in the squats are hard, they at least provide shelter and a place where people can stay together. Most of these spaces are now demolished, so people are forced outside in even harsher conditions on their own or in smaller groups.

It seems obvious that this has been a part of a push to clear up the city for the Olympics, so migrants are made less visible to tourists in Calais and those traveling to the UK for the Games. The authorities have long promised to make Calais ‘migrant free’ and Nord-Pas-de-Calais is an official ‘Olympic village’ during the games, so there has been a big push these last months to make sure migrants are not visible while there is more public attention in the area.

The threat of a violent eviction sometimes works in making people leave ‘voluntarily’. Sometimes when people have no-where else to go or are tired of moving from place to place they will try to stay.

Eviction call out: come support people facing eviction
Squatter call out: support people find places to sleep

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