80 people from Syria who are stuck in Calais are demanding safe access to the UK where they hope to claim asylum. Having escaped the horrors of war and persecution they are now welcomed in Calais by a new security fence and hundreds of CRS thugs, both of which are funded by UK money. The Syrians in Calais call on the UK to respect its international commitments and allow them to claim asylum without having to resort to extortionate or dangerous methods. Many people have severe injuries from their attempts to cross. Forced to live on the streets with winter setting in the situation is desperate. This is the reality of how Europe receives those most in need.
Beginning on the 6 November the Syrians of Calais will protest everyday by the entrance to old Salam, 2-5pm. They demand to speak to a representative from the UK to discuss allowing them safe passage to claim asylum and to end their suffering.
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!!
Yesterday at 8am the police evicted Africa House where 30 to 40 people had been sleeping. There were no arrests, but the police would not let people remove their personal belongings or bedding. As usual, these possessions were taken to the town dump, although much of this has now been recovered.
With no where else to stay, many of those who had been staying at Africa House were forced to stay in or around Salam. There is no space under any shelters in Salam, meaning that the new comers from Africa House (and others) had to sleep without cover from the heavy rain last night.
All the Associations are back from their summer break, so mealtimes at Salam have started again. With the exception that there is no longer anyone providing breakfast.
At the moment there are about 50 people sleeping inside of Salam and about 30 people outside of Salam, next to the building on the other side of the road. Because people have been there for so long, without being disturbed people have become quite settled, putting up blankets and matresses.
About 10 days ago the Mayor asked the police to remove the people sleeping there and on Tuesday last week the police came and kicked everyone out in the middle of the night. Nothing was removed and the people were able to go back inside once the police had gone.
A couple of days ago there was a meeting in the Town Hall about the issue of people sleeping in Salam. Again the Mayor has asked the police to remove the people sleeping there, which makes it pretty likely that in the upcoming week there will be an eviction of Salam, leaving 50-80 people with no where to stay.
As well as requesting the removal of the people, the Mayor is also attempting to change the agreement that the Associations have with the Town Hall. The Mayor wants a new agreement which says that if people are sleeping inside of Salam that it can be closed down. They also want to include in the new agreement that people from No Borders will not be allowed inside of Salam at all. At the moment we do not know how the Associations are going to respond.
Africa House is also still awaiting eviction having received eviction papers about a month ago, we have no idea when this might happen.