Tag Archives: calais

Calais’ evictions and the current migrant crisis

 What evictions?

Two evictions were due to take place in Calais: the first at a newly opened migrant squat at 10 Impasse Des Salines, an abandoned factory on the edge of the centre of town, and the second at the ‘jungles’ located near the port. The former houses 80 migrants, with many more visiting during the daytime to eat, shower and socialise, whilst the latter houses over 800. As of the 24th July, the squat was given 10 days before the eviction was to take place; however, after the prefecture met, it was decided the eviction would not happen immediately, providing, at least for now, temporary calm. The fate of the jungles remains unclear, with previous evictions taking place in May this year (2014) and in 2009. Occasionally, small victories are won at the squat with the Council coming to collect the garbage or clean the toilets.

Tell us more about the migrants?

Coming from Syria, Eritrea and everywhere in between, the migrants flee war, persecution and exile in their own countries. Most endure harrowing and life-threatening journeys across the Mediterranean; from covering vast deserts with no water, to being cramped in small sailing vessels for sometimes days at a time, with hundreds of fellow migrants, many of whom die from heat exhaustion or drown in the sea. Eventually, they reach Europe and make the journey to Calais, which for many is the last stop before crossing the channel into England – a journey which also tragically costs some their lives. They have already suffered enough. Migrants typically pay smugglers to get them across each stage of the journey with funds coming through relatives who all hope for a better life. Some of the migrants had jobs, some were aid workers, others were students. Due to the British border controls, some have previously gone to the UK to study only to be deported back when their visa ran out. They ask “Is the UK good?”; within this question lay their hopes and dreams. Wanting to get across to build a better life for themselves, indeed many will proclaim that being in Calais is no life at all; they yearn for the opportunity to be educated, start a family and work. These are things taken for granted by Western society, things considered a right; but for those in Calais, they are denied all rights. The hostility of the police and the constant fear as a result means any rights they do or should have are further abused. The migrants have fled severe persecution in their countries of origin, only to be dehumanised, oppressed, and forced into poverty in this town where they remain trapped, desperately waiting to succeed on the last leg of their journey.

Daily life?

 Each day is a struggle for survival. Forced into a constant game of cat and mouse with the French police and local fascist group Sauvons Calais, the migrants seek refuge where they can; many stay at the squat, and those that can’t often come during the day before returning to their respective crossing points at night. Food is cooked by migrants at the squat, provided by organisations such as Calais Ouverture et Humanitie (COH) and more recently Emaus, whilst donations are regularly received from locals. Activists provide English classes and legal workshops to prepare the migrants for when they arrive. However, due to local mayor Natacha Buchart they face constant police brutality, with many being found whilst trying to cross and returned, some are bought back multiple times each night having been unsuccessful. Occasionally, an effort is successful and a migrant will manage to board one of the lorries in one way or another, only to find several hours later that the lorry has driven to some other European destination as opposed to crossing the channel. They will then have to once again travel hundreds of miles back to Calais, in order to pursue their relentless efforts to reach the British coast. Exhausted from their nightly efforts, they will sleep before attending a Food Distribution ran by Salam, a charity, in the evening.

Any solutions?

Calais is a humanitarian disaster, and the future for its migrant population remains bleak. What is needed is for Buchart to recognize that it is France’s problem happening not just in her town but also at Dunkirke. Buchart’s reasoning is that the problem shouldn’t be Calais’ issue, it should be Britain that adapts its border policy, thereby allowing Buchart to disrespect, abuse and deny any rights the migrants had or should have. In contrast, over 500 people and many local and national organisations rallied to support the initial opening of the Impasse squat – proving the scale of support that exists. This support has to continue if the migrants are going to survive with an urgent appeal for people to come and support both squat and occupants. Britain’s border policy needs to be more flexible and remove itself from the Dublin 2 regulation which is hampering asylum efforts by forcing the migrants to cross illegally. However whilst long term solutions can be proposed, an immediate solution has to be found: Buchart needs to offer more asylum applications or at the very least provide housing, food and resources to these people. The situation needs to be re-evaluated by Buchart with both compassion and empathy.

In solidarity,

Ruth and Daniel

Twitter: @NoBordersLancs

FB: Lancaster NoBorders

All images credited to Calais Ouverture et Humanitie

Article written for Novara Media – see novaramedia.com

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Calais: Support for the Galou Occupation from 28th July to 6th August

Article translated from this site.

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There is a strangely calm atmosphere at the Galou squat today, despite yesterday’s verdict of expulsion. We play with cards, we prepare meals, we wash clothes, we sweep the grounds and discuss things while we drink tea. More and more women turn up during the day – there are also a lot more of them in the ‘jungle’, since the welcome spot planned for them and entrusted by Solid’R’s headquarters are full.

The general assembly planned for 3pm starts late, due to various bits of information and things to sort out. The bailiff is coming by next week to notify us of the verdict, and the 10-day time period during which we’ll need to vacate the premises will only be enforced from that point on.

What was expressed yesterday has been confirmed: the inhabitants want to stay, and won’t leave of their own accord at the end of those ten days. A common consensus is outlined in discussions. The process is a long one to put in place between people who don’t all know one another, or who have only been acquainted for a short period of time; who share neither the same language nor culture but find themselves implementing a common democratic process.

The weekend should see a collective consensus emerging. In the meantime, from the demands of the inhabitants, calls to join and mobilise are circulating like this one.

SUPPORT FOR THE GALOU OCCUPATION
FROM 28TH JULY TO 6TH AUGUST – CALAIS AND EVERYWHERE ELSE

2nd July: the space is organised for the distribution of meals, occupied for a month by migrants and three squats are evacuated. More than 600 people are stopped, more than 200 placed in retention. Released little by little, these people return to Calais.

12 July: at the end of a demonstration, the unused buildings of the Galou factory are opened and occupied by migrants and supporters. Showers are constructed, tents and toilets given by Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World). The old manager’s house is also used for sleeping. A kitchen and living space are created. The solidarity of Calaisians and NGOs provide everyday necessities and allow for the preparation of meals. Language lessons and concerts are organised. Over one hundred people live here, but the space also serves as a resource for other migrants across Calais.

24th July: verdict of Calais’s Civil Court is seized by the owner, inhabitants have 10 days to leave the building which will then make squatters liable for eviction. This ten day period commences as soon as the bailiff comes to deliver the verdict, which is possible as of Monday.

The inhabitants don’t want to leave before an alternative solution is found. They ask for all those who are ready to support them to mobilise:

Migrant Situation in Calais: A demonstration and the opening of a 12000m² squat

Translation of this article http://www.nordlittoral.fr/accueil/vandamme-un-nouveau-squat-de-12-000-m2-a-calais-pour-ia0b0n124204 to spread the word and call for support for the new squat aiding migrants in Calais

 

More than 450 people marched the streets of Calais yesterday (11th July 2014), for a demonstration in support of exiled migrants. This event also paved the way for a coup de force for the No Border movement who opened a new squat.

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There was a strong reaction after the last squat evacuation, on the 2 of July, which affected 610 migrants. In the Place d’Armes, at 2pm yesterday afternoon, many people assembled in support of migrants but equally to raise indignation towards the evacuations of the last months, described as “violent, useless and painful police operations” by Séverine Mayer from the collective Calais Ouverture et Humanité. The daily work of the volunteers was highlighted with “pain”, “the volunteers are tired but feel that they have to do the job”, recalls Séverine Mayer through a loudspeaker.

The Vice President of the Regional Council, from the European Green Party (Europe Ecology, EELV), Majdouline Sbai, spoke before the start of the procession, emphasising support to “the groups, the refugees, who suffer from this situation” and attacking “a policy placed in contradiction to European values”. Along with the local community, demonstrators made the trip from other French towns, such as Le Havre, Rennes and Lille, as well as members of other groups supporting migrants (including MRAP, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples). Surrounded by police, and with declared aim, the procession evolved.

A Counter Demonstration

At the side-lines, the group Sauvons Calais (a local fascist group) who fight against the collectives who help migrants, held a counter demonstration near the theatre. Over the course of the procession, under the watchful eye of the law enforcement to stop complete outbreak, the handful of members were kept away.

A Call for Support

The event aimed to be a show that the demonstrators had had enough. It also created the opportunity for a great achievement for No Borders, who created a squat with open doors to refugees “who do not know where else to go”.
The procession was made from the town hall, the in front of the theatre before making their way towards the Channel. A handful of No Borders members led the demonstrators in the direction of the new squat, situated on the old Vadamme site, all under the watch of the police.

“They opened this squat to defend a fundamental right, the right to shelter. We support this initiative which we believe to be, under the current circumstances, the only way for these people to have a sheltered night’s sleep”, commented Nan Suel from Terre d’Errance Norrent Fonte, another migrant protection group, one among many who support the squat. “A call for support will be launched” said Nan Suel. Cécile Bossy, from Médecins du monde (Doctors of the World), said that the group “supports giving people a home. This squat, like the others, goes to the people”. However, nothing will halt the attempts at another eviction, even if the occupants hold it for more than 48 hours.