Dear women of 51 Victor Hugo,
It was never our brief to talk about the political situations from which you have fled.
It was never presented as such before or during the filming.
Our brief was to report on the humanitarian situation in which migrants survive in Calais, and the lack of any facilities provided by the authorities. The desperate need for shelter and food are vital elements of that situation, and they were graphically illustrated in our report.
The images we used were blurred or out of focus. Maybe you can work out who is who but they would not be recognised by outside parties.
Having watched the video clip you made of our interview we are very angry with the publication.
We would like to share our response:
Freedom not food.
The picture always painted of Africans is that we need food. We do not escape our country, over the desert and then the sea for food. We live well in our country ; we have homes, famillies. We eat and have everything that we need apart from freedom. We love our country and we are proud of our country and all that it has.
What we don’t have is freedom, our problem is with the government and our dictator. As a woman they make you go in the army for two years unless you are pregnant.
You came into our home to listen to our story, to understand our situation, but you did not listen. You did not explain our situation, you showed people running for food. We came to Europe for human rights and freedom.
Where are the human rights ? Where are the freedoms ?
You said you wouldn’t show our faces, but we can see oursleves. This can be dangerous for our famillies in our countries. If we go back it can be dangerous for us too. We want to support our people, we are not afraid for us, but for our famillies you can bring problems. We wanted to make our situation known, you talked about people running for food. This is not our problem.
We need freedom, not food.
Women of 51 Victor Hugo, Calais.
 Reported deaths at the Calais border
6 August : Commanden, a young Afghan stabbed in a reprisal attack by mafia
7th July : 28 year-old Noureddin Mohamed, from Sudan, was found dead in Calais’ city canal. Police claim it was suicide, friends believe he was killed by police. No autopsy or investigation was undertaken despite pressure from family and friends.
9th April : Zenebe, an Eritrean man was found dead in an abandoned lace factory
22nd December : Ismael, an Ethiopian man, was found dead at the foot of a bridge. Police claim it was suicide, friends believe he was killed by police or facists. No autopsy or investigation was undertaken despite pressure from friends.
9th December : Iranian man killed after being hit by a bus walking along the road at night
17th November: Two Egyptians being transported in the boot of a car are killed during a crash. The other passengers survived.
11th September : Yousuf, aged 28, Sudan, is killed whilst trying to cross
10th May : Iranian man is killed whilst trying to cross, apparently falling from a lorry
22nd February : Afghan man, aged 24, drowns in the canal whilst being chased by the PAF border police
10th April : Rahmaddin, a 16-year old Afghan, is crushed by a lorry during an attempted crossing
9th April : Eritrean migrant found dead in an abandoned building
15th December : A 15-year old Afghan boy, is killed trying to cross
30th October : 25-year old Indian man found dead in lorry during attempted crossing
13th June : Aman, a 35-year old Eritrean man died trying to wash in the canal, showers being refused by the authorities
19th May : Vietnamese woman is found dead on the road after apparently falling from a lorry
5th April : An unnamed man is killed after falling off a train in the channel tunnel
25th February : Glara, a six-day old Iraqi Kurdish baby dies as parents were forced to sleep in the cold
7th January : A 30-year old Afghan stabbed in a fight
On Monday, 4th November 2013, at around 3pm the body of a young Eritrean was found dead in the water at Calais port. It has now been confirmed as the body of Robiel.
He was reported missing on the 9th October , after he and a friend had tried to swim across the outer harbour to try to get to a ferry heading for England. His friend was rescued and taken to hospital for hypothermia, the other was not found until his body was seen floating in the water last week, nearly a month later.
Once again, no autopsy has been undertaken despite the unusual circumstances , the forensic doctor who examined the body has closed the case as a ‘natural death’. 
Robiel was a refugee from Eritrea, his mother remains in Sudan, his uncle in England, his sister in Israel and cousin in Italy.
Eritrea is a country with one of the most repressive regimes in the world , with a quarter of its population now in exile despite the authorities’ “shoot-to-kill policy“ against people escaping across the border. Those without the money or correct identity to afford travel documents in Europe are then forced travel through incredibly dangerous ‘clandestine’ means ; by foot or crammed into trucks across the Sahara, aboard overcrowded and unseaworthy boats that routinely capsize in the Mediterranean , only to face constant harassment and abuse at the hands of border controls in Europe.
People from the Eritrean and Ethiopian community are shocked and angry to hear of the death of their friend. After the recent sweep of evictions across Calais, including an Eritrean squat on 22nd October , people are exhausted and living now under worse conditions in a new jungle, which could get evicted every day. And at night people still risk their lives at the border, chased like animals by police and their dogs under the watchful eye of UK funded high-tech surveillance systems .
Uncountable lives are wasted and suffer from the violence of the border. Whether from the direct attacks by police and border forces, or in the attempt to escape their controls, or through the dangerous methods of transit, or at the hands of gang-masters and mafia. This is at least the twentieth reported death of a migrant at the hands of Calais’ border regime in the past four years .
Others go unnamed, without vigils and protests, without families to advocate on their behalf. The story of Calais is like that of all border regimes. The more controls increase the more desperate and dangerous the methods become to escape them. And the response of the authorities remains the same; rather than ease the harsh conditions, controls are fortified in the vain of ‘security’ to ensure the protection and privileges of the minority, at the expense of the rest.
The systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group, inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation, imprisonment, fear, or pain are all factors that establish persecution. Through these border regimes people continue to be persecuted because of a combination of their race, nationality and income. This fear of ‘others’ promoted by the government makes xenophobia and racism normalised and institutionalized.
These deaths will not be silenced and people will continue the daily fight for survival against the death wish of the border regimes.
NOTES :  La Voix du Nord, 10/10/2013 : “An Eritrean rescued, another missing Wednesday night at the port of Calais”, http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/un-erythreen-repeche-un-autre-porte-disparu-mercredi-ia33b48581n1607357#
 It is normal practice in Calais for migrant deaths to be uninvestigated without inquiry or autopsy, despite unusual or suspicious circumstances and also in contempt complaints by family.
For example see: “Calais : Noureddin Mohamed” : http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/07/497887.html “A year since the death of Ismael” : http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/a-year-since-the-death-of-ismael
 La Voix du Nord, 4/11/2013 : “Body recovered at the port of Calais : prosecutors confirmed that they are brought the Eritrean disappeared” : http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/corps-repeche-au-port-de-calais-le-parquet-confirme-ia33b48581n1670293
 ”Torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and religious freedom remain routine in Eritrea… forced labour and indefinite military service prompt thousands of Eritreans to flee the country every year” : http://www.hrw.org/africa/eritrea
 Eritrean squat in Calais evicted 22/10/2013 : http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/the-eritrean-squat-has-been-evicted/
 The Calais border is the most securitized in Europe, with a mass of fences, CCTV cameras, border patrols and sniffer dogs, CO2 monitors, heat and motion sensors, xray scanners and thermal imaging cameras which supposedly “are able to see the head and shoulders of a person floating in the water at a distance of just over 400 meters, supported by Thales Security Systems, all in the hunt to find migrants“ : http://www.flir.com/uploadedFiles/CS_EMEA/Application_Stories/Media/Downloads/Portofcalais_EN.pdf
This is what the women living in Boulevard Hugo 51 say, most come from Eritrea and Ethiopia :
We don`t have any place to sit, to live or to have a rest, we have nothing. So we want to stay here. We want to have the chance to stay here.
We left our country to search for freedom and now we are still afraid. Until when are we going to be scared? We have no freedom here, its a cat and a rat game, we are always running, running, running. We came to Europe for freedom, but where is it?
We came over the sea, from Sudan to Lybia and than to Italy, we have been escaping from the beginning of our journey. We didnt leave because of economic reasons, we had food and shelter, some of us were going to university, but women and men have to go to the military service for two years, which can be changed to an illimitated amout of time.
We have no choice. And we are afraid of it. We left and we never have the chance to go back. If we go back we have to go to jail or even get killed. We are looking for freedom, the journey was very dangerous. In Lybia for example there is a lot of racism for example, a lot of african have been killed. And now we are here in Europe and play the cat and rat game. Everytime we see the police, we run away. Is it because we are „illegal“ or is it because we are black? Why people treat us like that? Some of us thought about staying in France, but after what they lived, they don`t see freedom here. They don`t want to live in racism again. They came for freedom, not for this. More than anything freedom is important, more than food or shelter. One of us got beaten by the police and than they put here in the garbage. An other one of us has been driven far away from Calais in the middle of the night. For what reason?
We don`t have any other place than this house, if we loose it, we will be in the street, we want to have the chance to stay here!
Video about Autumn 2013 in Calais.
According to their facebook page the fascists postponed their demonstration from the 7th december to the 18 january.
Yesterday afternoon the justice gave the decision to evict 51 Victor Hugo, a squat in Calais which houses, at the moment, around thirty women and children. The process of obtaining the decision from the court was extremely confusing and created more feelings of insecurity, fear, and anger from the residents of the house. Still at this time we have not seen the actual judgment (nor has it been given to our lawyer), only learning what we have through the press!
Starting from 8:30AM people gathered outside the court house to express their continued support. We were very encouraged to see all the local people who came in solidarity! They shared our anger and frustration at the ongoing oppression of migrants in Calais, and the failings of the local government to respect people’s dignity.
At this moment, we continue to wait for more information and will communicate further once we have the judgment.
The fascists have cancelled their call for Tuesday at the court but have confirmed their demo on 7th December.
Watch their facebook page:
This is what they wrote:
“The demo planned for 19th Nov at 8.30am at Place d’arme is cancelled. The defendons calais ["defend Calais"] collective, after a meeting this afternoon of the people in charge, asked for people not to go to avoid confrontation with the handful of no border who will be present, as the smallest fight could stop the demo on 7th December from being authorised.
Those who wish to go in any case, the choice is yours but you cannot send a call out for people to come, in order to respect the demand of the Defend Calais collective who organised the sit-in at the town hall
and are organising the demo on 7th Dec.
We have out fingers crossed that the old woman will get her house back on that day…
We look forward to the result of the trial.”