For more than two weeks now, France has been on lock-down. With most French people unable to leave their homes, migrants in Calais are still being evicted from theirs. Human Rights Observers in Calais have counted 45 evictions since March 17th. A police union, Synergie-Officiers, has called for an end to these daily evictions, but the department and prefecture still insist they continue.
The PAF (Police Aux Frontiers) have stopped carrying out these daily evictions in the city, initially retreating to their work in the detention centre. This just means different cops do them (CRS and Gendarmerie).
The crisis that is the states’ response to the coronavirus pandemic does not show any signs of letting up. Additional powers are being granted to states from now. As one example (stay aware of others) of the state using the pandemic to meet its goals that could not otherwise be easily achieved, Greece used it to justify evicting many families from the Politeknio squat.
In Calais, health and sanitation have already been used as excuses for evictions. Despite a later ruling against the closing of shops and restaurants in the jungle, armed police seized food, water, gas, cigarettes in 2016, under pretext of “sanitary control.” Calling it a humanitarian intervention, in 2014, the state evicted about 650 people because of scabies and sanitation. Neither then nor now, the state took responsibility for creating these conditions for people or gave solutions.
Mayor Bouchart has been pressing the national government to permanently clear migrants from the city, although not doing anything herself to try and get people off of Calais’ streets and into actual housing. Now, a new shelter is opening in Pas de Calais during the ‘confinement generale’ where migrants will go (from Calais and Grand Synthe).
On Tuesday, associations came to the camps with government officials, distributing information. A bus from the Prefecture took some people (limited to 14 per bus, on a first come basis) to the shelter. Due to concerns over two individuals exhibiting symptoms, everybody was turned away on arrival to the center and sent back to Calais. The buses will continue. It is unclear what the shelter entails, what will happen to people after the confinement period when the centers close. It is clear that there is not enough place to house everyone.