There are more people still arriving to sleep in Salam, all spaces under the plastic are taken so people are putting up many tents on the grass outside. Also people are sleeping without tents just wrapped in blankets on the ground.
The police are coming to the place of distribution every morning at 7am to count people. Usually it is just one or two cars of PAF but yesterday they came in huge numbers also with the CRS and drove inside Salam. They spoke to every person in turn and wrote down on a clipboard peoples names, nationalities and age. This took them over an hour and a half to go round all the people in and outside of Salam. But there were no arrests.
However, the police are clamping down seemingly harder than before on so called “people-smugglers”.. basically anyone they can catch in the parking who isn’t in a truck. Recently many people have received prison sentences for being people smugglers (but who actually were just trying to cross to the UK). We have been attending many of the court cases to support our friends.
Unit 61 of the CRS is in town but they have been pretty quiet – the previous unit (40 – from Dijon) were very busy with controls in the streets and parks and were extremely racist, only asking for papers from people they assumed were migrants and ignoring other more western looking people.
Many people have Italian papers at the moment but even though the papers allow travel within Schengen it does not make people immune to being arrested in Calais.
Today Medicin Du Monde did a big clean up in the place of food distribution, cleaning the porta-loos, the taps, and all the loose rubbish – which with hundreds of people using the space is really a lot. A massive skip was placed in the centre of the yard and filled to the top. After the cleaning had finished, sleeping bags were distributed to all. Three vans of PAF officers sat and watched all of this take place from behind the fence.
At the moment the situation is not so good. More and more people are arriving into Calais, without spaces to stay, without blankets and very often the food distributions are running out of food before everyone is fed. People are tired, hungry and as the days and nights are getting colder people are getting sick. Many people are injured at the moment. Broken arms, broken legs, its so common to see hands in bandages and fingers stitched up from where people have ripped them open on fences.
But – there will always be good spirits. Music and dancing and cooking food over fires, there’s lots of fixing bikes sessions, teaching each other languages, making use of home-made library and free shop, playing chess and cards, reading books, drinking tea and regular do-it-yourself barber shop for hair cuts…
What we need:
– Tents, tarps and sleeping bags – we need lots of them.
– Books – in any and all languages. Especially, English, French, Italian, Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Tigrinya, Amharic and Greek. Language dictionaries would be really really cool, and really well used. (We have many in German and Swedish already so don’t need any more!)
– Games – card games, board games, dominoes etc..
– Tools/bike equipment – the bike workshop space is good but could be excellent. We need tools and other equipment and as usual more bikes and trailers.
– Phone chargers and sim cards
– Also we are in DESPERATE need of cameras… We are missing so much potential footage that could be used against the police.
And if you have any spare time we would love to see you because we have a massive shortage of activists but so much to do!!