18 February: demonstrations of support for exiles

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Saturday 18 February, as planned, demonstrations took place in several cities in France, in solidarity with the exiles, possibly organized with them.

Besançon :

Manifestation at 2 pm in place Pasteur in solidarity with all migrants.

https://www.infolibertaire.net/besancon-manif-de-solidarite-avec-les-migrants-samedi-18-fevrier-2017/

besancon-18-02

Caen :

Gathering at 2pm place Bouchard following the expulsion of the squat Drouet on 9 February, for freedom of movement and anti-migration and security policies.


https://agcontrelesexpulsions.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/rassemblement-le-samedi-18-fevrier-a-14h-place-bouchard-a-caen/

caen-rassemblement-18-02-1caen-rassemblement-18-02-2

Marseille :


Gathering from 2 pm to 4 pm place Félix Baret “Dignity of people in CAO”.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1237580999622926/

Text of call out:

“At the call of the friends of the CAO of Marseille who claim dignity and respect for the promises of asylum:

We are refugees from Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan… Since the evictionof the Calais camp last october, we were moved into several CAO (« centre d’accueil et d’orientation » = kind of small centers created by the State to accomodate migrants and advice them in sociallife, papers, etc.) scattered in Marseilles. To persuade us to leave the jungle, the french government promised us a lot of things : a shelter, the right to apply for asylum in France… and the most important that the french administration won’t apply the « Dublin law ».

To be under « Dublin law » means you are not allowed to apply for asylum in France. This so-called european law consists in pushing us back to the first european country we entered in the continent, where our fingerprints were registred for the first time (often during an identity control by the police). For most of us, this european country is Italy, where we arrived by sea : our fingerprints were registered

there under duress by the italian police, sometimes we were beated for that and we had no explanation about the sense of these fingerprints.

Today in these centers created to evict Calais camp, we see that the french governement don’t keep its promises to cancel this « Dublin law ». Up to now we are not allowed to apply for asylum in Marseilles and we fear to be deported to Italy in the forthcoming weeks.

We don’t want to go back to Italy. We just want our fingerprints to be erased from the european common file, to be allowed to live peacefully in France as we expected to do. Italy and Calais camp are quite the same : it means sleeping outside, sleeping in the jungle, without means or food, under the threat of the police violence. We don’t want to wait anymore. Now we want to live our lives !

Today we people from the CAO gather together and try to rally support of the public opinion to our cause : we claim for the promises to be respected and for our asylum form to be registred in France, in Marseille.

We meet to demonstrate on Saturday February 18 th in front of the

prefecture in Marseille 14h.

Thank you for your solidarity

You can download here the original leaflet.

Toulouse :


Friday, February 17th at the Centre Social Autogéré 15 rue Roquelaine, metro Jeanne d’Arc: evening to support the exiles of the CAOs of Toulouse and its surroundings.

http://iaata.info/Soiree-de-soutien-aux-exile-es-des-CAO-de-Toulouse-et-alentours-1875.html

toulouse-17-02
Saturday February 18th, demonstration at 2pm in Place Arnaud Bernard “No human being is illegal”.

http://iaata.info/Manifestation-le-18-02-aucun-etre-humain-n-est-illegal-1873.html

Text of appeal:

«No human being is illegal

In Toulouse, we, collective migrant solidarity 31, call for a protest in solidarity with all undocumented people as part of a national day of action.

Isolated minors, persons expelled from Calais in CAOs, persons exiled to the streets or in squats, persons wishing to access health care : there are many undocumented people who are subjected to inhuman treatment on a daily basis from the state and its institutions. The request for asylum, that is to say, the right to obtain papers for having fled a dangerous situation, is truly an obstacle course, at the end of which, the vast majority of the applicants are refused. And for others who wish to come to France for different reasons, the situation is no easier. In Haute-Garonne, any other application for a residence permit (work, care, family, student, etc.) is almost systematically refused.

Beyond the legal situation, the living conditions of the exiles are very precarious : isolated minors and families on the street, no access to care, no payment of rights (such as the ADA, aid to persons requesting asylum), loss of autonomy (the impossibility of cooking in certain centers), infantilizing treatment, very difficult access to French courses, isolation in the legal proceedings (absence of translators in the accompaniment), very precarious and underpaid employments…

The State seeks to divide and exhaust. Its institutions deal with each individual on a case-by-case basis and isolate each person who is faced with all the administrative machinery, in order to better keep the exiled people waiting, in order to discourage them so that they will then leave the country.

NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL
WE DEMAND
Real access to health care.
The immediate payment of the social aids.
Dignified housing conditions.
The access to training courses, studies and work.
The end of all Dublin procedures
The free circulation of all persons.
Legal papers for all.

PROTEST SATURDAY 18 FEBRUARY 14H PLACE ARNAUD BERNARD

We oppose this isolation and division with solidarity and the strength of collectivity : faced with the repressive policies and rejection by the State, we build our solidarities and demand the application of the rights that are often violated.

We are therefore in solidarity with all of the activists who go to trial for having supported migrants. We can not accept that the government criminalizes the elementary duty of solidarity and turns activists into criminals. ».

 

Calais: journalist Haydée Sabéran, Secours Catholique employee and seven minors arrested in front of the showers

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As if the prefect of Pas-de-Calais wanted to celebrate his promotion as a prefect of the Normandy region (http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/119050/article/2017-02-15/la-prefete-fabienne-buccio-quitte-le-pas-de-calais), after a Sudanese deported to Sudan and the risk of deportation to Sudan of an Eritrean, a police operation that combines the hunt for minors, the hunt for solidarity people and the hunt for journalists.

The association Secours Catholique (Catholic Relief) had recently installed showers for the homeless migrants, this being the trigger that raised the hostility of the major of Calais (see here and here). The state is now fighting against the showers: yesterday afternoon, three CRS vans are parked in front of the entrance. At the arrival of the van of Secours Catholique, the police controlled and arrested all the people present, those being seven minors who came to take a shower, Mariam Guerey, an employee of the Secours Catholique, and Haydée Sabéran, a journalist for Libération, who works since long time in Calais.

https://twitter.com/HaydeeSaberan

During the control, the CRS communicate to their superior via radio. The arrest of the minors, the employee of Secours Catholique and the journalist was therefore validated by the hierarchy. All these people were taken to the brigade dealing with the repression of the activities of the “smugglers”, which meant that the charges for the Secours Catholique worker and the journalist were those provided for by Article L 622-1 of the CESEDA (Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and the Right of Asylum), which states that “any person who, by direct or indirect assistance, facilitates or attempts to facilitate the entry, illegal movement or residence of a foreigner in France shall be punished by imprisonment for five years and a fine of 30,000 Euro “.

So of course, at arrival at the police station, the tone changed, the possible custody turned into a free hearing, and everyone was released – released for minors, it means not only not having taken a shower, but being on the streets, which is symptomatic of how the police consider the protection of childrens in danger (see here and here).

Nevertheless, the threat is clear, both for people showing solidarity and for journalists, from the moment when a well-known journalist is not around.

The struggle for access to basic hygiene continues, since the mayor of Calais has just published a stoppage of works, which comes late since the showers are already installed and no work is in progress. It will at least make a dispute that gives the impression of doing something, and hinders solidarity.

 

tractopelle-grue-construction2Yang Yongliang : From the New World (detail).

Alert: deportation to Sudan this morning + risk for an Eritrean to be deported to Sudan

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A Sudanese migrant arrested in Calais was deported this morning to Sudan from Oissel detention center, near Rouen.

Why Oissel? Presumably because the administrative tribunal of Lille has a jurisprudence to repeal the Obligations to Leave the French Territory (OQTF) without country of destination, or with Sudan as destination country, because of the risks of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment if back there (following Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights). The Judge of Freedoms and Detention of the Appeal Court of Douai normally puts an end to the detention on the same bases. Therefore it is difficult to evict to Sudan from Coquelles detention center, near Calais.

The judges of Rouen don’t follow the same line of jurisprudence, therefore deportation is more likely to happen from Oissel.

A migrant from Eritrean was also delivered an OQTF to Sudan. The Sudan consulate has given the pass, considering this person as Sudanese, so she risks to be deported to Sudan. The Sudan itself expels to Eritrea (link in French).

Again we have the impressioin of a subtile strategy behind this: the consulates of Eritrea do not issue passes, so we pass through the Sudan, which is more obliging.

In addition, two Sudanese are currently detained in Coquelles with OQTFs to Sudan. They are very likely to be released because of the jurisprudence of the court in the North region, but always better to keep an eye on their situation.

France Terre d’Asile, association working in both the detention centers of Coquelles and Oissel, does not seem to want to communicate on the particularly serious fact, thereby confirming its lack of distance from government policies.

Update 15/02/2017 – 20h30: the two Sudanese detainees locked up at Coquelles detention center were released by the Court of Appeal of Douai. The Administrative Court has not yet ruled on the repeal of their OQTF.

What you can do:

Call on the Minister of the Interior to call for an end to the deportation:

sec.immigration@interieur.gouv.fr

Question the prefect of Pas-de-Calais to ask to cancel all OQTFs for Sudan:

http://pas-de-calais.gouv.fr/Contactez-nous

fabienne.buccio@pas-de-calais.pref.gouv.fr

 

urgent

Calais: politics of spectacle and denial of rights

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Calais is a city deeply impacted by the economic crisis, the deindustrialisation, the resulting unemployment and poverty, and the impact of this situation on the local economy in general. Land-use choices aggravate this situation, including the creation of large commercial areas on the outskirts, as the Cité Europe close to the Channel Tunnel, and the fences around the port, which create a barrier between the latter and its passengers and the city. These choices have a negative impact on downtown businesses.

Another characteristic is that Calais is a town-border, where people prevented from entering British territory have been visibly stucked in for thirty years due to anti-migratory policies that have been tightened over the years. It has been mainly since the late 1990s people seeking protection in Europe.

Public authorities should find solutions to these situations, each at their own level, from the commune to the State to the European Union, in order to improve the well-being of people, both sedentary and transient. It is in any case a paradigm that goes through all European history, passing through the Light and after the Second World War with the generalization of social protection, the Charter of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Geneva Convention about the status of refugees.

And it is the dismantling of this paradigm that we are witnessing, and it is no coincidence that we see at the same time both the dismantling of social rights and rights of refugees by national and European policies.

To distract our nostalgia from the effects of this protective and emancipatory paradigm, we were given the role of voters in this politics of spectacle, the art of showing and hiding. Show an action and hide an absence.

On a local scale, this is what happened on Wednesday, February 8th. An association tries to answer to a problem of precariousness, access to hygiene and public health, by installing shower units on its property. The chief of staff of the mayor of Calais rises up, as in the American westerns, coming with his car to block access to the place, followed by a dumpster that definitely blocks the entrance. Action, with the town hall showing as protecting the population against the danger of “migrants” and thereby the associations that help them, thus concealing its negligence in dealing with the real causes of deterioration in the local economic and social situation .

The law has its inertia in relation to the dismantling of the protective paradigm, and the all-powerful arbitrariness of the local or national elected representatives is not yet devoted to it.

The cowboy action of the mayor of Calais was condemned by the administrative court of Lille.

You can read here, in French, the original order of the administrative court of Lille.

 

hare-1502

Albrecht Dürer: Hare.

After the No Borders, the Catholics

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Once upon a time, for both the Mayor of Calais and the representatives of the State, there were the No Borders, presented as dangerous extreme-left activists sowing disorder and desolation all around Calais (see, in French, here, here, here and here), an argument recently used as justification for prefectoral orders taken in the name of the state of emergency (about, to read again in French the official establishing of a “protection zone” in vision of the destruction of the slum of Calais, a real piece of anthology). The ridiculous that didn’t kill this scarecrow seemed to be able to last forever, but the lack of concretization of this terrible threat has probably begin to become embarrassing.

So the municipality is now attacking a new demon, the Secours Catholique. After the prosecution of “squatters”, mainly minors sheltering around the day centre run by this association, we witness the blocking of showers.

Le Secours Catholique owns a hangar in Calais, which is used as office and for clothes distribution. On Wednesday, February 8, the association is delivered two units of four showers each and one for the reception, for people on the street, in a context where cases of scabies have been often encountered. A member of the mayor’s office parked his car in front of the entrance, blocking the arrival of the last unit, then the town council installed a garbage container to continue blocking access – the access for the delivering of the structure, but also for the Firefighters in case of fire..

From French news: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2017/02/09/migrants-a-calais-la-municipalite-bloque-l-entree-d-un-batiment-du-secours-catholique_5077132_3224.html#

Le Secours Catholique has applied to the Administrative Court for this violation; the hearing will take place tomorrow, Monday 13 February, at 10 am at the Administrative Court of Lille.

This happened reminding us of a well known text by Pastor Martin Niemöller, who had opposed the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi regime and was locked up in the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Dachau. There are several versions of this text, the overall meaning of which is the same, so here’s one of them:

« First they came for the Communists,
And I did not speak out;
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists,
And I did not speak out;
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out;
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the catholics,
And I did not speak out;
Because I was not a catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
Habe ich geschwiegen ;
Ich war ja kein kommunist.
Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen ;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
Als sir di Juden holten,
Habe ich geschwiegen ;
Ich war ja kein Jude.
Als sie die Katholiken holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert ;
Ich war ja kein Katholik.
Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr,
der protestieren konnte. »

duerer_-_ritter_tod_und_teufel_der_reuther

Albrecht Dürer: The knight, death and the devil.

Calais: minors under the snow

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Every weekend is the same situation over and over again: minors ask for a shelter, and a number big or small of them are left to the street. It all begins on Friday night, demand increasing for the night from Saturday to Sunday, decreasing on Sunday night.

These minors don’t suddenly appear in Calais for the weekend. The official shelter, managed by France Terre d’Asile, is in Saint-Omer, city thirty km away from Calais. During the week, the minors try to cross in the area around Calais, and live in well known hyper-precarious conditions, aggravated by the police hunt happening since the destruction of the shantytown. During the weekend there are fewer trucks, hence these requests for a shelter.

Last weekend, 15 minors were arrested by the border police on Saturday early afternoon. The police contacted France Terre d’Asile who replied that there was no room, statement confirmed to associations that called later in the afternoon. It is unknown where these minors slept. At the beginning of the evening, five other minors are in need of accommodation, for lack of solution they will be housed by volunteers.

The weekend of 21 and 22 January was the one of legal fantasies. Three minors arrested by the PAF (French Border Police), who then contacted France Terre d’Asile. Refusal to take charge – without written notification. The problem, since a procedure has been started, is what to do with the minors. The police say to the minors that if they want to leave one of them must declare himself major, so the two other minors are related to the so-called major, who will be legally in charge of them, and it will be possible to let everyone out. This was done. The so-called major had with him a document from the CAOMI (Centers of Reception and Orientation for minors – see here, here, here, here and here) where he had previously been hosted … The same evening, two other refusals of sheltering from Terre d’Asile, by telephone, with the pretext that the names of the young people would be on a list of people considered as adults.

This Saturday, the snow falls on Calais. At 1:15 pm, France Terre d’Asile shelter is already full. That happened even if the capacity of the place in Saint-Omer was increased from 45 to up to 55 places; the rooms of a school were also opened for shelter, a priori out of any legal procedure for taking in charge minors, giving other 20 other places, also in Saint-Omer. Finally, at 1:45pm, a solution is found for two of the minors. But in the early afternoon, despite the 30 additional places, the shelter device is St Omer is already full. Knowing that the more Saturday afternoon will become evening, the more difficult it will be to reach a responsible person who can unlock a situation.

If you encounter minors on the street or are concerned about the situation, you can contact the maraude service of France Terre d’Asile, which is directly responsible for sheltering (06 49 99 09 33), and the president of the departmental council, which is responsible for child protection, since that is a departmental responsibility, Michel Dagbert (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008714986407).

Beyond the urgency of this weekend, there is that of an accommodation for minors in Calais, which is the only that can meet the real needs. And the best interests of the child (to use the terms of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child) must be prioritized over migration policy considerations.

 

800px-hendrik_avercamp_002

Hendrick Avercamp: Winter scene.

Amnesty International report about the Franco-Italian border

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While Cédric Hérou has just been given a suspended sentence with a € 3,000 fine for helping exiles (http://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2017/02/10/aide-aux-migrants-cedric-herrou-condamne-a-30-000-euros-d-amende-avec-sursis_5077536_1653578.html – see also here, here and here), Amnesty International publishes a report about rights violations on the French side of the French-Italian border.

The various official istitutions concerned have all refused to respond to the association’s requests for information, whose team has been able to witness several violations of the legislation concerning border controls and referrals to Italy, asylum rights and minors rights. It also highlights that the multiple prosecution of solidarity people also violates human rights.

You can download here the report, in French only “Controls at the Border – Human Rights Violations at the Border with Italy”.

Calais: the hunt for the child

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A group of eight Afghans turn round the corner of the boulevard. The oldest might be eighteen years old, the others look fifteen or less, hard to say, the road shapes the body and chisels prematurely the faces.

Among the exiles who arrive in Calais, or who come back after the destruction of the shantytown, minors are lots. The police controls them and doesn’t know exactly what to do with them. Sometimes one ends up at the detention center, to be released by the judge, as every minor is in regular situation on the French territory. Sometimes the police contacts the  Children’s Social Assistance, who doesn’t really appreciates and encourages the police to do a facial sorting between “true” and “false” minors, in complete illegality. France Terre d’Asile, charged by the department of the reception of foreigners minors, is often nowhere to be seen, no more places avaiable, not enough people to search for the minors.

In short, it is thanks to the solidarity of the association and the people living in Calais if many minors aren’t sleeping in the streets. But it is impossible to reach everyone when everyone is hiding, and, also, many of them try to cross overnight.

Therefore some are sleeping around the daily center of the Secours Catholique, located at the end of the city – this position out of the centre was required by the municipality to cease its legal guerilla against the opening of a Day Centre for the exiles . And among those who sleep there the majority are minor.

As the land is municipal, the municipality files a complaint against the “squatters”. Act to show that it is not good to be on the streets in Calais, especially when one is minor.

https://francais.rt.com/france/33717-calais-mairie-soupconne-migrants-organiser-squat-et-porte-plainte-contre-x

http://www.secours-catholique.org/actualites/mineurs-en-danger-la-solidarite-bafouee

belle-ile_153

The penal colony for children of Belle-Île, whose revolt in 1934 had inspired the poem of Prévert “La Chasse aux enfants”. A hunt had been organized to catch the children evaded but stranded in the island, with a prize for each child caught.

CAO, asylum, Dublin, mobilizations – the sequel

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The multiplication of people placed in Dublin procedure amongt those in CAO (Center of Reception and Orientation – see here, here, here and there) expelled from Calais last October, with increasingly clear possibilities of expulsion towards the European country responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin III Regulation, continues to generate mobilisations (see here, here, here, here and here).

It should be noted that, as has been the case since the beginning of CAOs, practices vary widely from one prefecture to another. Some place in Dublin procedure, others do not, some also change practices, sometimes after mobilizations.

In Seine-Maritime, for example, following the media coverage of the situation, the prefecture abrogated a series of transfer orders (deportation ordered to the country responsible for the Dublin III asylum application, usually the country of entry into the European Union). But people remain in Dublin proceedings, at least for now, knowing that if the French authorities do not deport them within six months they will become responsible for their asylum application.

https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/faits-divers-justice/la-prefecture-de-seine-maritime-prend-des-arretes-pour-expulser-des-migrants-qui-veulent-demander-l-asile-en-france-1486315079

In Indre-et-Loire, a petition is online to support asylum seekers under Dublin procedure of the CAO in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps:

https://www.change.org/p/la-pr%C3%A9fecture-non-au-retour-en-italie-pour-nos-amis-f69056d0-ed6d-436f-a0cd-374d9e9d726a

A wider gathering is also planned yesterday Thursday February 9th at 5:30 pm Place de la Prefecture in Tours:

https://larotative.info/pour-le-respect-du-droit-d-asile-2066.html

In Talence, near Bordeaux, the exiles demonstrated last Monday faced with uncertainty about their future as the months pass.

http://rue89bordeaux.com/2017/02/arts-initiative-citoyenne-aider-migrants/

We notice, reading this article, a something that happens quite frequently. The volunteers did not see this mobilization coming, things seemed to be going well, despite difficulties with the organization charged of managing the CAO. But the daily life can go well, the exiles are here to build their future, and often have the worry of loved ones left behind that they want to be able to support. Their project is not to spend good days succeeding each other without prospects. Whatever the quality of everyday life is, the question of the future is paramount.

 

Miro : Morning star.

CAOs for minors: Another speedy closure, another account

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On January 31st; partial closing of the CAOMI (Centers of Reception and Orientation for minors – see here, here, here and there). The testimonies which date back present a similar situation; a new announcement some days before, young people sorted between “recognised minors” and “recognised adults”, no access to independent legal support allowing them to challenge the decision they are subject to, people scattered everywhere, friends, relatives separated.

After Saint-Cast, in Brittany, an account regarding Monoblet, in Gard, on the other side of the France. One more episode in the struggle of non-welcoming.

https://goo.GL/maps/6s1PFZbRjzu

*original text in French*
https://cevennessansfrontieres.noblogs.org/post/2017/02/01/sur-la-fermeture-du-caomie-de-monoblet/

« On the closure of the CAOMI of Monoblet

Posted on 01/02/2017 by Cevennes without borders
The time has passed for the Amariniers

29 of them arrived from the jungle of Calais to the center of the Amariniers close to Monoblet in the middle of a November night (see article in French here). Getting into the bus whose destination they did not know, they were promised a way to England and that they would not stay in Cevennes for more than five days…

Time passes, three months exactly. This is the time allotted by the prefecture to social workers to regularize the administrative situation of each person. Three months during which the hopes will have mixed with the disappointments, the anxieties will have punctuated the moments of joy.

In the end nothing surprising happened Most requests for family reunification were rejected; Only three positive responses to date have been granted; The youths “recognized” as adults1 were switched to a CAO for adults, the younths “recognized” as minors were transferred to the social welfare services for children Some would have preferred to attempt by themselves their dream than the unfeasible situation of being trapped in the inner workings of the administration. And so they left the centre to reach the North coast of France or other places offering more to their future.

So over the weeks, their will to reach England gradually diminished to that of seeking asylum in France. To be able to stay together, not leave those with whom they had formed a group bond. Then from one day to the next, they were told again that they had to leave, and for some, alone. This time they were told their destination three days before their departure, but most did not know what it was to leave in a car accompanied by social workers. Their questions remain unanswered, some of ours also…

Closing the facility and speedy transfer of Afghan youths

As of January 31st, the prefecture ordered the closure of the centre. The decision is announced one week in advance. The contracts for staff hired for this facility also ended on this date. With no renewals and no additional wage costs to pay, the business folded as fast as possible.

For minors this means a place in a home ordered by the Prosecutor in the child welfares centers. A small group left on the 30th January for N√Æmes. They will spend their first nights in a hotel usually made available by the 115. That night two of them slept in one bed. Other kids barely 16, speaking only a few words of French or English, are assigned places on their own near cities like Toulouse, Montpellier or in the Paris region. One of them was separated from his cousin with whom he made the whole journey from Afghanistan. He, deemed to be an adult, is assigned in to village about 50 kilometres away. Some are still waiting for their places and remain at the centre despite the closure already being demanded…

Their questions about their near future remain. Where will they go? Will they have access to the internet to communicate with their family? Will there be French language courses? Will they be able to take the training of their choice? How long will they stay there and that what will happen to most of them? All that will be found out later… The reception of unaccompanied foreign minors comes under the responsibility of the County Councils. These services are generally lacking resources and overloaded. In departments such as the Nord-Pas de Calais, the Ile of France or the Bouches du Rh√¥ne, the children are not all taken care of and must find a solution themselves to avoid sleeping on the street. That is the welcome they will find here. To recall Denko Sissoko, a youth from the Ivory Coast placed in one of these homes near Reims who was thrown out of a window in early January. Other youths in the centre then wrote a letter to the head of Department of the County Council describing the deplorable situation that they are facing (see, both in French, here and here).

Those considered adults will continue to be taken under the charge of a CAO for adults. They will either go the CAO center in Vigan or will be sent to apartments in Lasalle used for those seeking asylum. What opportunity will they have here to start integration into social life, knowing that there will be no training on offer on-site (in Lasalle in any case). The duration of their recepetion will be determined according to the progress of their application for asylum, and following the outcome they may be asked once again to leave? As in many departments in France, and despite the promises made by the Home Secretary that Dublin III Regulations will not apply to those leaving Calais, they may be removed to the first country in Europe where their fingerprints were taken as in Gard where the prefect initially applyied this measure. Their future in France may be short and still includes many uncertainties.

A standard of ‘protection’ for minors?

A few months ago we were talking about the dismantling of Calais as an operation to ‘protect’ minors. We were told that they could not stay there and continue to live in conditions considered to be inhumane. No, indeed they could not, or rather they could not. They did not leave by choice, but because they were removed and then placed in buses. And if security forces were not now in place to prevent their return, a new jungle would have been rebuilt already. And if the conditions were deplorable, who would take responsibility?

We therefore question the hypocrisy of the State on the one hand, and that too of the associations which managed these measures on its behalf and relayed its discourses. On the one side we implement or endorses a system generating violence, both physical and moral. On the other, we pretend to remedy it by announcements and security measures.

What were the ‘expanded responsibilities’ (see in French here) which would supposedly accompany the minors on their arrival at the centre in Monoblet, if not to insure a security role by filtering those entering? This protection has in our eyes materialized by the closed gate at the entrance of the centre2, a register noting those entering and exiting, and obedience to an authority which decide what it is possible to do or not in the centre. Many initiatives were discouraged3 by this and and this contributed to the isolation of the young people who were nevertheless requesting visits and outings.

We however did not see any counselling, no one to listen to their accounts, other than that which served administratively. Like this could the good will of social workers exceed the remit imposed by the administration? They objected to measures that cannot be anything but shocking? These young people remained waiting and in uncertainty for three months, to finally be separated then left alone, whereas they had grown used to being in a group in Calais. Arrived in haste, left in haste, an ideal situation of protection? And for those who are left and wander somewhere on the roads of Europe, how are they protected, who cares about them now? Who spoke of ‘expanded responsibilities’ ? A call to the prefecture signalling their departures is enough to clear their name of the problem?

And now?

The service provided by the State through its mandated service provider is limited to providing shelter, two meals a day, and putting individuals into the administrative framework planned for them. For the rest (French language courses, clothes, shoes, dictionaries…), the people of the surrounding villages had to take on the responsibility allowing some budget savings to be passed on.

We see once again that the weight of the institution has stifled the will to get by and many other possibilities to organize. No choice was left to the Afghan youth, other than to continue their journey alone. The only request the made was to stay together, at least in small groups, what has been done in this direction?

But the centre must now close, and the question of follow-up, accompaniment and the fate of the people is always there. An initiative to create a follow-up Committee is ongoing (see here, in French) and contacts were kept in an informal way. Continuing support outside the institutional or managerial frameworks and maintaining links that have been created are ways of breaking down separation, sorting and isolation, developing solidarity in the face of a system that crushes individuals

*notes*

1 Since the dismantling of Calais, several interviews identified the age of individuals concerned, demonstrating the seriousness of the approach. The first was carried out in a hangar in Calais, in an interview of a few minutes, or the age was determined by a method of facial recognition. The second was made by officials from the Home Office in one day at the centre thanks to a series of questions. The third, much more elaborate, was directed by the services of the Department and consisted of an interview without a translator, the demand for written evidence from families, and bone testing. This method is used to determine the age of a person reliably to within about a year and a half…

*notes*
2. This is not without reminding us of the current functioning in any place of deprivation of liberty and the tendency which increasingly links accompaniment and coercion The new Prahda (Asylum Seekers’ Hosting and Accommodation) scheme for the CAO public illustrates this perfectly by adding a mission of “preparing for the transfer of persons under the Dublin procedure and monitoring, where appropriate, persons under house arrest ”

3. For example, climbing excursions have been deprogrammed at the last moment. Outings in the city could not take place, for reasons of protection or safety. For these children who have crossed half of Europe alone or have tried every night to climb trucks on a highway, it would almost be a smile … ”

 

schiele-quatre-arbres

Egon Schiele : Four trees.