Little by little, step by step, the government is taking action to evict the jungle.
Now, the Prefecture has announced that it will begin to evict the area of the jungle that falls within 100 meters from the motorway. It has demarcated the area with spray-paint, by suited Prefecture officials some of whom had been involved in previous evictions over the years – and in many areas this is clearly more than 100 meters.
The official information given is convoluted, conflicting, or withheld, but what is clear is this is only the latest step of what has been happenning over the last months.
These things are happenning slowly and if you take a look at them alone, they are easy to forget. But what is the strategy ?
-Firstly, people are evicted from the city of Calais and put into a ghetto on an environmentally unclean area – it is the French government which had started the jungle in the first place, through coercion and threat of violence.
-Secondly, an area of the jungle is evicted (through a « humanitarian » eviction, with workers from La Vie Active telling people that they have to move and promising a better alternative.
Some of the houses moved with the help of the French collaborators have to be moved again, for a widened construction zone.
-The OFII tries to move many people out of the jungle with buses to welcome and reception centres across France. Some people are deported under Dublin regulations, despite promises to the contrary (the deportations are now on hold until March).
-Police patrols in the jungle increase. Previously, presence of even three CRS officers was noted and alarmed people. Then the number increased to 10. Now, people are no longer alarmed by 20 CRS officers doing twice daily patrols in the jungle – going into shops and becoming quite acquainted with the layout of the areas. Now, it is possible for a large group of police to gather in the jungle all at once, largely unnoticed, including at least a company of CRS vans parked outside the jungle.
-Police attack the jungle with tear gas, frequently firing into the family areas. Many people, tired of this violence and unable to live in the gas, leave their homes. Some leave Calais.
-Police allow (and endorse) fascist attacks on the edge of the jungle. Physical protests are met with tear gas, frequently at night. The fascist attacks are not. This is another way to drive people from their homes.
-The new container camp, to house only 1500 people, opens on January 11 – taking first families, then those previously evicted to build the camp, thirdly people deemed “vulnerable,” then everybody else in a first come basis (much like the “line, line, line” of distributions in the camp).
-In Dunkerque, MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres) had planned to make a better camp. They were stopped by the French government who required the camp to be closed; MSF refused to build a closed camp. Negotiations are pending but the message is clear.
-The government is saying that only 2000 migrants are to stay in Calais (1500 in the new camp and 500 in Jules Ferry). They do not acknowledge the rest of the jungle population.
-The Prefecture and police came into the jungle, this morning, to meet with only certain people from the communities (selected individuals meant to represent thousands). Presented with a list of questions for a dialogue (including about police violence and fascist collaboration, potential deportations, reason behind the 100 meter border, limited capacity of the new camp, and restriction of emergency medical and fire services to the jungle), the Prefecture did not reply. They simply told people that they will have to go or face violence and do not listen ( a message people in the jungle know well, i.e. “Allez! Allez!” and “Go jungle!” from the police).
With the pending eviction of certain areas of the jungle (a divide and conquer strategy) – with people given no clear alternatives, more questions than answers remain.
What about everybody else?
The French and UK governments work together and do not want people to cross from Calais. Even now, even with all of the fences and all of the violence small groups of people are defying the regime and crossing the border.
If people do not want to stay in Calais, this should be a choice, not something that people are forced to do.
If people do not not want to be evicted from the jungle, they should be able to make their voices heard.