From Hunting Down Afghans to the Imprisonment of a Baby


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Late October – early November 2016: destruction of the shantytown in Calais. Several hundred exiles, mostly men and women from Afghanistan, now homeless in Calais, make their way to the Grand Synthe refugee camp. The new arrivals find themselves consigned to the camp’s margin in an area largely controlled by Kurdish traffickers. Tensions mount, and on the 10th of April, there is a violent brawl following which four fifths of the Grand Synthe camp is destroyed in a fire. The government decides that the camp will be neither rebuilt nor reopened, and part of the camp’s residents, mostly Afghans, head back to Calais.

The authorities respond by launching a police manhunt targeted mainly against the returning Afghans. As a result, one man, the father of a family, was arrested at Calais railway station and transferred to the detention centre at Mesnil-Amelot, near Paris, to await deportation to Afghanistan. His partner, an Iranian woman, visits him with their baby daughter, born eight months previously in Calais. The visit takes a wrong turn, and the baby is placed in detention with her father before being put in the custody of the Child Welfare Services. The child’s mother, meanwhile, is arrested and taken into police custody.

And so we have a sign of the clampdown on exiles accompanying the new President of the Republic’s installation.

Below is a communiqué put out by la Cimade:

« A Baby Victim of the Prefecture Clampdown in the Pas-de-Calais


12 May 2017

An illegal detention, an 8 month old baby put in foster-care, a family broken apart, the father detained and threatened with deportation, the traumatised mother separated from her family … this is the result of France’s current immigration policies.

Mr I. and his partner, Ms V, arrived in France in 2016, and lived several long months in The Jungle at Calais hoping to enter the United Kingdom where they might request asylum. Their daughter Yasmina was born in the hospital in Calais just eight months ago.

The 10th of May, 2017, while accompanying his brother to the railway station, Mr I. was detained by the police. At the Police Station, Mr I. explained his family situation to the police, but he is nevertheless ignored, and the Prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais, decides to try and deport him to Afghanistan with no consideration that the family will be separated. Alone, he is transported to the Administrative Detention Centre (CRA) at Mesnil-Amelot. A series of wrenching human dramas will result from the decision to separate the family.

The following day, Mr I’s partner visits him, with their baby, at the CRA. The situation rapidly degenerates: Ms’ V. refuses categorically to leave the centre without her husband. So acute is her anguish, that she becomes extremely distressed and is expelled from the CRA without her baby, the administration judging that the mother’s distressed condition might endanger her child. The baby is thus left with her father in detention at the CRA.

As the hours pass, the situation becomes more and more fraught. On one side, the child is, along with her father, held in detention, behind barbed wire, outside of any established legal procedure. On the other, the baby’s mother stands watch at the entrance of the CRA, screaming in rage and despair that she must be reunited with her family.

Informed by the administration of the CRA of the dramatic turn of events, the Prefecture du Pas-de-Calais refuses to budge: Mr I’s release is out of the question. In the end, the public prosecutors office at Meaux orders the child to be placed in the custody of the Child Welfare Services, and orders are given fro the mother’s arrest and detention in police custody.

And so, twenty-four hours after the events described, the small family is torn asunder. An eight-month old child is put in a foster home. A father is in detention and threatened with expulsion to a country other than his wife’s country of origin. And a mother – obviously psychologically fragile and perhaps in no fit state to care for her child without assistance – is detained in an unknown location. In the final analysis, the above episode demonstrates how the right to a normal, private family life is regularly violated by the deporatation-machine put in operation by French authorities, especially in the Pas-de-Calais department.

In regard to this particularly dramatic situation, la Cimade demands the immediate release of Mr I. so that he be able to care for his child. »


Kamaleddin Behzad (Herat, Afghanistan) : Funeral of the poet Attar of Nishapur.

Destruction of shelters in Grande-Synthe – possible raids in Calais


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While the media attention is focus on the new government and legislative campaign in France, repression is getting worse at the UK-France border.

Refugees didn’t disapear with the fire at the Liniere refugee camp in Grande-Synthe (see here and here). Life conditions are just more precarious and people more vulnerable. Police intimidation is strong, mounted polie are even there to push people out of woods and dunes.

Yesterday thursday afternoon, police destroyed precarious shelters and blankets of the 250 people who were sleeping in the Puythouck wood in Grande-Synthe Some families have been hosted by City Hall. For the others, life is just worse. And it’s raining again.

According to different sources, places have been reserved in detention centers (CRA) everywhere in France by the ministry of Interior for some refugees of Calais. Important raids can be expected sometimes soon in Calais.


Viktor Vasnetsov : Vityaz at the Crossroads.

Between Concrete and Great Outdoors


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Same location, three months later : the Porte de la Chapelle, in the vicinity of the “humanitarian camp” set up by the mayor of Paris and the French State. (see here and here).

“Push onwards and outwards,” seems to be the motto of the powers that be. West of the Porte de la Chapelle, everything has disappeared, huts and bivouacs, especially under the tracks leading from the gare de Nord. Even the blocks of stone put in place to prevent people from sleeping there have vanished. However, the shantytown inhabited by Roms is still there, against all odds – despite vicissitudes, pressure, fires and efforts at forcible expulsion.

To the east, some tents are still up on the divider in the middle of the boulevard. But here the stone blocks meant to prevent rough sleeping have been left in place, especially under the shelter offered by a railway overpass.

Here, in this bit of space underneath the city’s ring-road `and the on-ramps feeding into the northbound motorway, tents and a few shacks have sprung up on patches of land running along the roadside. This is the site where exiles, now pushed another few hundred metres back, have been able to take shelter.

The location gives onto the Porte de la Chapelle and the “humanitarian camp” fronted by La Bulle, the absurd inflatable dome that serves as its reception centre. Like a grotesque, giant balloon, it gives access to a ridiculously inadequate, under-sized and over-crowded camp, spilling out beyond its confines due to lack of living space. La Bulle represents the government’s sunny promises meant to mask its real policy of “not-welcome.”

Hidden under the ring road, the real encampment running alongside the off-ramps and underpasses gives a true-to-life picture of the harsh reality of “not-welcome.”


Victor Hugo: City with brocken bridge.


Alert: New Deportations to Norway = risk of deportation to Afghanistan

Being deported to a European country does not guarantee respect for rights. On the one hand, because some European countries do not respect the rights of the deportee, those which offer opportunities for access to protection or a residence permit vary widely from one country to another. But also because some deport more than others to country like those which are at war or where the risks of violation of rights are particularly grave.

Thus, Italy, has a readmission agreement with Sudan to facilitate deportations to that country. For example, Norway has a special recognition rate for Afghan asylum seekers and is a mechanical route for shipping them to Afghanistan (see here, here and there).

Thus, from January to April 2017, out of 3945 asylum applications that were addressed, the Norwegian authorities granted protection in 56% of the cases, a limited residence permit pending the determination of the identity of an asylum claim- In 7% of cases, a claim of minority was accepteded and in 37% of cases the applications were rejected (an acceptance rate practically double that of France).

On the other hand, for Afghans over the same period, out of 1179 requests 22% received a positive response, 23% a limited residence permit for the alleged minor pending the determination of their identity , And 55% recieved a negative answer. In France, based on a recognition rate by OFPRA of 80% in 2016.

Hence the pattern of asylum in Norway for Afghans- rejecton in the majority of cases -the rejected people continue their route to Europe, and demand asylum in a more favorable country like France. The French authorities return them to Norway, the country responsible for their asylum claim under the Dublin III European regulation (because the first country where they applied) and Norway deports them in a few days to Afghanistan without individuals having any access to independent legal advice and the possibility to file an appeal.

Two new situations of imminent expulsion, with appeal for support:



A petition:

“Qanbar’s nightmare, an Afghan of the hazara ethnic group who is being persecuted in Afghanistan, has begun after opposing the stoning to death of his sister. It is worth the threat of death.

He fled his country, landed in Norway where he was denied asylum (like the vast majority of Afghans: 25.2% agreed against 80.6% in France). Threatened to be expelled, Qanbar left for France, where the Dublin regulation applies: he is incarcerated and must return to Norway.

He is currently awaiting in the Detention Center a CRA and without intervention, he will be deporteded to Afghanistan imminently.

It is necessary to act quickly and cancel the application of the Dublin procedure which decides deportation to Norway and authorize him to apply for asylum in France. ”

for more information:



And a mobilization by e-mail:


To demand the release of Hafizullah who will be deported to Afghanistan via Norway, please fax, mail to the prefecture of Lozère. You can use the text below:
Hafizullah, 22-year-old Afghan boy, threatened with deportation to Afghanistan

Hafizullah, assigned to residence at Marvejols, Lozere, was arrested through deceipt at the gendarmerie,while reporting there and taken to the detention center in Lyon.
France will deport him to Norway where he had made an asylum application.
It was rejected.
Terrorised at the idea of ​​being expelled to his country of origin, by Norway which has already expelled 577 Afghans since February 2016, Hafizullah came to seek protection of France which does not consider Afghanistan a safe country.
In 2015, Hafizullah had left Afghanistan after the Taliban assassinated his father. His life is in danger in that country still at war.
I refuse to let Hafizullah SAFI be deported to Norway, then Afghanistan.
I request that he be released and file an asylum application in France.

Cabinet du préfet
Fax 04 66 49 17 23
Préfet – Hervé Malherbe

Secrétaire général – Thierry Olivier

Fax 04 66 49 03 17
Directrice des services du cabinet – Nadine Monteil

Service des étrangers
Fax 04 66 49 67 22

Chef du bureau des titres et de la circulation – Évelyne Boukera

Fax 04 66 49 67 22
and to make known what one thinks , where these decisions are taken : Secrétaire général Elysée Matignon Dircab Matignon Ex-Dircab Matignon Dircab adjointe Matignon, ex-Dircab adjointe Intérieur Conseillère Matignon ex-conseillère immigration Intérieur Dircab Intérieur Conseiller immigration »


Claude Monet: Sandvika, Norway.


Eviction of Porte de la Chapelle camps : when insufficiency calls for violence


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We say this over and over again, and never it’s gonna be enough : eviction is always a violence. Even when it ends with relocation. You are surrounded by police, forced to leave your shelter and the place where you establish landmarks and a certain impression of safety, you are classified, constrained to get on a bus, and you never really know where this bus will take you. And this is just the soft version, without physical violences, without destruction of personal belongings, without arrests. We can imagine better ways to access an accomodation.

The city of Paris and the state put in place Porte de la Chapelle, a ”special migrants” housing access project, out of normal access to emergency shelter for homeless people, for minors in danger, for asylum seekers and the accomodation they are supposed to get.

But this place (only 400 places available + another structure for vulnerable people in Ivry) is ridiculously too small, and congested by missing housing solutions in the surrounding areas. This is also a place to classify people, where we can question the legality of certain practices happening there.

So people are sleeping outside around this place, camps and bivouacs are being formed.

And one day we tell them to go. Suddenly we found the places that were cruely missing before, and with which a violent hosting could have been avoid.

This morning May 9th, eviction at Porte de la Chapelle. The last one happened on March 9th, without talking about the small eviction operations. Between those two evictions, unworthy living conditions outside the city. And they will appear again and again, tomorrow, this evening, a bit further if necessary, waiting for the next eviction.

Of course it would be possible in short-term to increase the accomodation capacity of Porte de la Chapelle and Ivry camps, to increase the number of available places around those camps, and to have a welcoming mission for all those places. It would prevent camps to form again and people to be homeless.

The mayor of Paris and the state should also respect the law in term of unconditional shelter for homeless people, for protection of minors and shelter for asylum seekers.

But apparently we are far from this to happen …






(Pictures : Faty Tiah)


A Death on the Eurostar in Paris


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How to try and pass the border with the UK from as far away from the actual border as possible? By getting on board a vehicle bound for the United Kingdom. You could wait at one of the rests stops on the motorway leading towards the coast where lorries headed for the UK often stop. Or you could get on the Eurostar. But unless you manage to get inside a train your chances aren’t good – between the electric arc near the overhead catenary system and the and the powerful rush of air from the train’s speed, your chances of survival are nil.

This past Tuesday, 2 May, at Paris’s Gare du Nord, after succeeding to climb onto the Eurostar’s roof an exile was killed by the electric arc from the catenary system above the train.

This is the third exile to have died at the border so far this year. On the 21st of January Johnsina was run over on the motorway near Calais. On the 11th of March, another exile died near Dunkirk following an attempt to cross the border.


Police Officers vs. Judges


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Over the years successive laws have been passed that simultaneously undermine the rights of foreign nationals and diminish civil liberties. However, it seems that for successive governments whatever rights have stayed in place represent an obstacle to their policies sufficient to induce both the administration and the police to violate these laws, despite their severity, on a daily basis. And judges, when they sanction these violations of the law, become the embodiment of the obstacle in question. In this area, as in others, end-term Hollandism meets end-term Sarkosism.

It’s in this context that we see the meaning of the show of force put on by the police last Thursday during the distribution of meals – arrival with lights flashing, interruption of food distribution, racial profiling, and the spectacular arrest of one minor and three other individuals. Of course, the show was also intended to demonstrate to volunteers and NGO’s who’s boss at a time when some NGO’s have made appeals to the Human Rights Defender and Comptroller General of Detention Centres regarding multiple instances of police misconduct. Another object is to hinder the enactment of the March 22, 2017 Court Order handed down by the Tribunal Of Lille which suspends municipal by-laws forbidding meal distribution in certain areas of Calais, the Court deciding that such interdictions violate a number of fundamental human rights, creating a situation equivalent to inhuman and degrading treatment (see here and here).

Thus the raid last Thursday was not a simple show of police force, but an action taken by the police at the beck of local hierarchal authority (and probably of the political authority on which it depends – we don’t know at what level the decision was taken to stage the police intervention.). More than likely it was undertaken with the support of Public Prosecutor of Boulogne-Sur-Mer with the intention of blocking the application of the Court’s decision.

Because this, today, this is the Rule of Law as observed in France.



The war over distributing meals, it is constant.

Police pressure is not limited to the distribution of evening meals, organized by the associations (see here, here and there), it is diffuse and also covers all distribution throughout the day.

As of last week, there are several testimonies from volunteers who made night marauds with tea and food, and who had to undergo identity checks, vehicle control, security palpations. Volunteers were told by the police that they were forbidden to return to those places and that distributions were prohibited.

This week, meal distributions began in the industrial zone of the Dunes at noon, at the same place as those of the evening. The police are intervening daily to disperse them, batons and pepper spray in hand.

The police also intervene to disperse the distributions of breakfasts. This morning, Exiles and volunteers were gassed.

The fact that meal distributions take place in peri-urban areas with little traffic leaves the police free to act without witnesses and endangers Exiles and volunteers.

The Lille Administrative Court suspended the application of the anti-distribution orders issued by the Mayor of Calais, and the police action violates this decision in a more and more clearly assumed manner (see here, here and there). A sign of what is the end of the term of François Hollande, but also probably of what will be that of his heir.

The Age of Fences


The TGV of Calais enters Gare du Nord in Paris. It runs along a long fence that separates it from the next track, like an extension of the fences that enclose the railway tracks at the approach of the station of Calais – Fréthun, which is among others the last station before the Channel Tunnel for the traveller- Leaving for the United Kingdom. On the side of the hall of the station, the fences transform into a glass wall, visually less aggressive.

Since when have these fences, extended by a wall of glass, which defend the accesses to the United Kingdom, have they been in place at the Parisian station?

A strange negligence explains our ignorance. The oldest anti-migratory walls preventing access to the territory of the European countries listed in the chronologies are in Africa and surround the cities of Melilla and Ceuta, Spanish enclaves on Moroccan soil. They date back to 1998 and 2001.

The port of Calais was surrounded by fences in 2000, followed by the perimeter surrounding access to the Channel Tunnel on the French side in 2001 and the Calais – Fréthun station in 2002. Other French ports of the Channel, Dieppe in 2001, Cherbourg and Roscoff in 2002. These walls in the heart of Europe are absent from the chronologies.

The 1991 Sangatte Protocol provides for the British control of French access to the Channel Tunnel upstream of the opening of the Channel Tunnel (in 1994), as well as French controls on the British side. An additional protocol of 2001 extended these checks to London St Pancras, Lille Europe and Paris – Gare du Nord.

Are you one of the more than two hundred million passengers who spend each year in Gare du Nord, do you know what year a wall was put up in the heart of the station to materialize the border with the United Kingdom , The image we have of British migration policies and the collaboration of the French government?

The plan of Albert Mathieu-Favier for a tunnel under the channel, dating back to 1802, with enormous ventilation chimneys.

Calaisian Solidarity

Due to a temporary lack of translation capacity  links remain in French

The oldest traces of solidarity-based associative action for the Exiles who were blockaded in Calais on the British border date back to 1986.  Some of these people find themselves on the street without any means of subsistence. Some of them are potentially refugees, refouled at the border of a state that is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.

For nearly thirty years, solidarity has been based mainly on Calais residents and associations anchored in the social fabric of Calais.

With a three-year bracket, between 1999 and 2002, during which the Sangatte Centre brought a state-funded response to meet some basic needs under the roof of a large hangar far from the town. Outside common law as well, it was a “humanitarian emergency shelter and reception center (CHAUH)”. The people housed were not refugees or asylum-seekers, or homeless people, but a sort of separate category under the “humanitarian emergency”.

The center closed, people then belonged to a category of people who do not have to be here, and numbers of people and associations showing solidarity varied more or less according to the period of the power relations the law or delinquency.

But, year after year, solidarity was organized, managed to conquer spaces to work, to obtain answers, fragmented, from the public authorities (the opening of a gymnasium in the framework of the cold weather plan, orientation towards the Exiles. The permanent access to health care at the Calais hospital, the provision of an open-air space for the distribution of meals, provision of prefabricated toilets for showers and day care …), without challenging the overall policy.

Beginning in the autumn of 2013, an increase in the number of Exiles that precedes what the media would later call in 2015 “the refugee crisis” began to become noticeable in Calais. In 2014, Emmaus France mobilized its communities to take over and organize convoys to Calais. It is still the local associations that distribute this aid which comes from all over France, at a time when local collections are no longer sufficient.

In the summer of 2015, international NGOs and volunteers and associations from all over Europe, notably the United Kingdom, arrived. Faced with what was to become the largest shantytown in France, local solidarity continues, but is marginalized in terms of its capacity to respond.

The state recreated what has sometimes been called “Sangatte on the cheap” There was an under-dimensioned day-care centre, a place for the reception of women and children, which was also insufficient, and almost a year later a container camp, for some of the people. The other people found themselves in a shantytown. By September 2016, ten thousand people lived on this site.

The dismantling of this site and the destruction of the shantytown reduced the number of Exiles in Calais blocked at the British border to an average equivalent to that of 2003 (after the closure of the Sangatte Centre) before the large increase elsewhere in Europe in 2013 ).

But the logistics of solidarity remain in the hands of actors disconnected from the local reality, the Calaisian solidarities no longer having the material means to work , even if only the capacity to prepare several hundred meals. Hence, among other things, the choice of a place for the distribution of meals in an industrial zone away from the city, which places tension in the community (see here, here, here and there).

Hence also the news of the day. The Secours Catholique reception will remain closed until the elections (without knowing which election it is, presidential or legislative, or the relationship between the political calendar and the needs and demands of the Exiles ). The showers managed by Secours Catholique are also closed: they take place in prefabricated buildings, which can be installed for three months without having a building permit , for lack of the permit, they stop, unconnected with the needs of the people).

There just remain the Calaisians who open their doors – and everything has to be rebuilt

Van Gogh : Wheatfield behind Saint-Pauls hospice with a cutter.