Search results for: victor hugo

Another death this week in Calais

Yemane Gaberanguse, 22 years from Eritrea, died whilst on his way to trying to cross for England on Monday night. Yemane was very sick, he had been staying with us in Victor Hugo for the last 3 days of his life as he had no other place to go and was too weak to survive on the streets.

Despite his bad state he was on his way to trying (Monday night) and later died of suspected heart failure. He had been to the hospital the previous day but was not given the right diagnosis and treatment since his past records were not found due to the lack of ID.

His friends organised a very moving memorial ceremony at the food distribution the following day with people from all communities.

This is the third death at the hands of the border in the past 6 months; at least the twenty first reported death of a migrant at the hands of Calais’ border regime in the past four years.

These deaths will not be forgotten or forgiven.

See the full list of reported deaths at the Calais border

No eviction!

The prefect of Calais, Denis Robin, has announced (according to Nord Littoral) that they will not raid or evict the squat Victor Hugo 51 until another ‘solution’ for the inhabitants is made.

It seems, for the time being, a positive result for the woman and children who have been fighting against eviction of the squat, refusing to be forced to sleep back on Calais’ violent streets.

Answer from Al-Jazeera

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.

Response to Al-Jazeera

Dear Aljazeera,

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.

Friday 6th December: brief updates.

Winds are up. Tents and jungle camps are flying everywhere. Associations opened the BCMO (cold weather shelter) for one night yesterday. Blankets and tents are in short supply, people are angry that associations are failing to give out resources.

Police have been raiding camps near to the ferry port where people migrating from Syria and Afghanistan have set up camp. Numerous unlawful and violent arrests have been made including one minor coming from Syria and many people with Italian passports.

Following the blocade of the port last month, by people migrating from Syria, police agreed to not enter their camp near the port. It seems this promise is broken, raids are taking place and arrests are being made.

 Victor Hugo is still here. Local support has been building with regular visits and donations being made to the space. However, there is a lot of fustration with journalists mis – representing the situation of people living in Victor Hugo (see post below). The women of Victor Hugo want to make it clear that their struggle is one for freedom, not for food as Aljazeera portrayed last week.

Expulsion est pour bientôt…

Le huissier est venu cet après-midi, au squat, sur le boulevard Victor Hugo, donner les papiers du jugement, ce qui n’est pas encore l’ordre d’expulsion, mais c’est biensûr l’étape suivante.

Quand le huissier nous donnera l’ordre d’expulsion, il peut venir avec la police, et il est dit dans le jugement, qu’ils peuvent «donner un coup de main» pour expulser si le huissier pense que c’est nécessaire et que le préfet donne son accord. Normalement, après ce document donné, nous sommes légalement censé avoir deux mois devant nous (c’est ce que l’avocat pense), mais il y a aussi beaucoup trop d’avis contradictoires, pour être vraiment rassuré.

Nous allons donc être prêt à tout. Il y a encore environ 30 femmes qui vivent dans cette maison et un enfant, qui n’ont nulle part ailleurs où aller. Plus le soutien est plus que bienvenue!

Eviction is coming soon

The bailift came this afternoon to the squat boulevard victor hugo to give the papers of the judgement, which is not yet the order of eviction but which is the next step. When he will give this order of eviction, he can come with police, and it is stated in the judgment that they can “give a hand” to evict if the bailift thinks its necessary and the prefect gives its agreement.

Normally after this paper is given, we are legally supposed to have two months in front of us (this is what the lawyer thinks) but there is to much contradictory talks from every parts to be really reassured on this part, so let’s be ready for everything. There are still about 30 women living in this house and one child who have nowhere else to go.

More support is more than welcome !

The Eritrean Squat has been evicted

The Eritrean squat in rue Neuve has been evicted, 70 +  people newly in the street. Tents, sleeping bags, blankets are very much needed. Most of all we need activists to go to Calais and support!

Inside the Eritrean squat… before it was evicted
Screenshot at 2013-11-09 13:22:53

Following lots of arrivals to Italy via Lampedusa there are now well over 100 Eritreans present in Calais. They are escaping a brutal dictatorship and a long war with Ethiopia. There are a record number of women from Eritrea and Ethiopia in Calais, most are in the safe space opened by No Borders. The ‘jungles’ where Eritreans and Ethiopians wait to go to England are full over the limit.  Following the tragedy a shipwrecks south of Lampedusa, causing the death of over 350 people, mainly Eritreans, there have been protests in Italy and in many European cities.

After the Syrians went on hunger strike and occupied the pedestrian entrance to the ferry port, the camp of the Syrians in front of the place of food distribution was not disturbed by police for a while. About 50 people sleep there, including some minors. Today however a large number of police went around the place of food distribution. The Syrians in this camp are asking for support.

The Afghan jungle is still a main target, police going there every 2 days approx, usually at 7 am, sometimes they do nothing except asking for papers, sometimes they arrest people – even if they have papers. 50 to 60 people sleep there including some underage boys. 20 to 30 were in the small jungle on the other side of the motorway, there may be fewer now due to destructions and arrests. Many are deported to Italy or other third ‘safe’ countries.

The Sudanese, Chadians and other Africans still have not been able to resettle anywhere, police keep following them closing their squats and destroying their shelters.

The month of September has seen:

·    Eviction of the squat in rue Mouron, Beer House where nearly 100 Africans were living for nearly one year. Twenty Syrians had occupied an adjacent cabin and were evicted at the same time. Lots of PAF (Police aux frontiers), CRS (riot police) and special police. No arrests.
· Three immediate evictions of the big squats where those people had been seeking shelter in the nights following the eviction. This time several arrests were made.
·    Complete destruction of the Sudanese jungle with around twenty arrests. Police and destroyed all the tents they could find, city workers taking the blankets and personal things to the to the city dump. Everything would have been immediately destroyed if it was not for activists and volunteers from the associations going to the dump to take them back that day.
·    Tents have been destroyed by the police in the Afghan jungle during their frequent morning raids usually by PAF and CRS combined. Arrests and mass arrests of whoever does not run fast enough. The water point where the Afghans used to wash and gather water for drinking and cooking has been closed.
·    An illegal eviction of a new squat that would have been able to house everyone during the cold winter months based upon falsified testimonies.
·    The hotel occupied by the Albanian was also evicted, some occupiers arrested. Many Albanians are being deported back to Albania.
·    The Syrians who were sleeping outside the place of food distribution were arrested, about 20 people, blankets taken, place boarded up. On the same day, some shelters in the small Afghan jungle were destroyed, several people arrested, blankets and stuff taken to the city dump.
·  There have also been a series of attacks by police on the garage rented by Calais Migrant Solidarity, who distribute blankets, tents, and clothes to migrants. One evening, eight Police Nationale appeared at the garage as CMS were distributing clothes and violently pushed those out-front away from the garage, smacking people across the face and kicking them from behind. This was before taking out their pepper spray and spraying everything inside, making the clothes and blankets inside impossible to use. However we cleaned up the garage, it was re-opened for distribution the very next day, and we have other storage spaces.
Cold and hunger
The local associations who have provided humanitarian aid to the migrants for so many years are no longer capable to provide, for lack of funding and lack of volunteers. It has even become a problem to find enough blankets! Food is down to one meal per day. Migrants are lacking everything, and suffering constant hunger.
People desperately need:
·     Blankets
·     Sleeping Bags
·     Tents
·     Warm clothes (sporty not formal)
·     Shoes (sporty such as trainers)
·     Waterproof jackets (not ponchos)
·     Food (not perishable and not expired)
·     Money to buy food and materials

Food is down to one hot meal per day as the associations are not receiving enough money and they no longer have enough volunteers. One of the associations who give the food, Belle Etoile, decided to dissolve because they cannot work in such conditions.

The City administration is in charge of giving the associations the government money allocated to buy food for the migrants. The racist mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart is in position to dictate where and when the associations can distribute food.  In 2009,  the association SALAM had two vans and lots of volunteers, and they were doing regular distributions of raw food to all the jungles and squats in Calais, besides providing a cooked evening meal. Now food can only be distributed in that mousetrap that is the new place of food distribution, just a ground covered in tar, no tables, no chairs surrounded by tall fences that were even topped up with barbed wire, before unknown persons cut it off … Everybody loses between 5 and 10 kg after arriving in Calais, if not more. Some people have been wandering the streets of Europe for years, without finding a country that takes them and where they can make a living, always destitute, always homeless.

Most migrants present in Calais are refugees from the worst war torn countries in the world: Afghanistan, Sudan (especially Darfur, but there has been an increase of refugees from South Sudan and other parts of the country), Eritrea and Ethiopia, more recently Syria, including Syrian Kurdish. Most are already severely traumatized, having lost family members and often having risked losing their own lives, escaping forced conscription, persecution, arrest, torture…

A safe space
The squat in boulevard Victor Hugo is used as a shelter for women, children, families. Currently there are between 20 and 30 women, several are pregnant, four children between 3 and 8. Most women are from Eritrea and Ethiopia, but also from Somalia, Syria, Egypt. We had three families from Syria, with a total of 4 children aged between 7 and 3. It should not need saying that a woman or, especially, a child should be protected, whether they have papers or not, but if they do not apply for asylum in France they leave them in the street.

A bit of background
In 2002 the French government closed the centre of Sangatte, run by the Red Cross, where migrants could get a bed, food, showers, medical assistance. The reason for that is that the UK government put pressure on the French government, while the right wing press were claiming Sangatte was a ‘magnet’ for ’illegal immigrants’ trying to reach England. Sarkozy was then the Minister for Immigration. People were forced to go living in makeshift camps in the woods, or in derelict houses, with no electricity, no water, no sanitation. A number of associations, mostly run by unpaid volunteers, were formed to feed and support the migrants. Police brutality became a common trend, as a mean to ‘persuade’ people to quit the North of France: beatings, use of CS gas, destruction of shelters and personal belongings, repeated, arbitrary arrests and ID controls… Now police brutality has gone down very much, at least in terms of gassings and beatings, thanks to the work No Borders have done exposing what they were doing. More needs to be done.

Summer of evictions reaps devastation

As we come towards the end of the summer no borders are counting there losses, every shelter has been raided, trashed, evicted on multiple occasions, leaving many of the migrants on the streets without tents or sleeping bags. Added to this, the rain and the cold are sapping any remaining energy, and many are sick.

The project no borders have been most involved with, that had become a shelter for the most venerable woman, children, elderly and injured people in small house called Victor Hugo or often by the migrants the woman’s house. This project has gone through many changes from being a social centre on the first floor enabling many migrants to cook their own meals to kitchen for activist groups round Europe.

Unfortunately with the massive pressure put on the space by the police evictions, the rules decided by the women of the house aren’t being respected, as there are many men coming with no other place to go leading to a desperate situation.

A police chief previously openly reported to the press after the beerhouse eviction that they hoped to show to the courts that Victor Hugo could not be maintained to safety standards by repelling migrants from shelters in all corners of Calais.

3 Tent jungles have continued to re-surface in the face of constant police raids. The afghan jungle, the Sudanese jungle and recently the Syrian camp.

We have continued to be inspired by the examples of the Syrians determination to stand up and be recognized. They stand for the inhumane treatment of all migrants in Calais.

It is a massive shame on the collusion of England and France, anyone who believes in these 2 countries as the beholder of human rights and liberty should be ashamed.

Global No Border squat on Rue Caillette safe for now

Today the court in Calais declared the municipality’s request for the eviction of the squat on Rue Caillette “unreceivable” for procedural reasons. This means that the city will have to resubmit and argue their case all over again before being able to evict, giving those living there more valuable time before being forced back onto Calais’ streets.

The ineptitude of the municipality in how they handled this case has been surprising although very welcome. Apparently, when forced to respect the law and abide by procedure the city does not know what to do, having gotten so accustomed to breaking down doors and throwing people out over the years (old habits die hard).

It has been amazing to watch the evolution of this squat over time as people from many different parts of the world have made it their home together and organized autonomously within it, proving once again what is possible if people have just a bit of security and control in their living space.

In the meantime another property on Boulevard Victor Hugo has been occupied and legal procedure forced, although is not yet in process. For the past weeks this building has been used by a mobile kitchen to cook food which is being distributed at the squats and jungles at night for those observing Ramadan and to help alleviate the general hunger that comes from living off of just one meal a day at Salam. Longterm, this space is intended to be used as a safe house for particularly vulnerable people such as women, children, and those who are ill or in an especially difficult situation. Despite the Adjoint Mayor Phillippe Mignonet’s statement that he will make life hell for us here (something which he added was not a threat but a promise for as much as a politician’s promises are worth) the space has been receiving much support from the neighbors and will hopefully continue to function as well as Rue Caillette in the future.