In September, there will probably be over 10,000 migrants in Calais, in the slum and in the two semi-enclosed structures set up by the state, the container camp (1500 places) and the center for women and children (400 places, but it is usually only two thirds full). Soon a shelter structure for unaccompanied minors should be added to the state’s container camp, which will provide 72 further places (while there are 670 unaccompanied minors on the site). More than 8,000 people live in the slum.
The population is expected to increase during autumn before slowing down or decreasing during the winter. Most of the new arrivals in Europe come by sea, which is more difficult to pass in the winter months.
The slum that has been created by the state and municipal authorities has only the population capacity of a small town. We should remember that migrants began coming to this inhospitable land in March and April 2015, and until then were living in different squats and camps in and around the city before being evicted by the police. The last eviction of people who had not yet “moved” was held in June and September 2015. This land, close to the Jules Ferry center, was made available by the municipality. All this came with the promise of tolerance or their living in the new location.
The land ahs become divided, with tension between the semi-enclosed structures created by the state, where the autonomy of people is very limited, and the slum, where the inhabitants and associations have created social spaces despite the insecurity, the constant police harassment, violence and destruction (see here and here).
Since the beginning of 2016, the State announced the destruction of the slum (the president talked about a “cleansing”), without specifying what will happen to the people who live in it, as if they and everything they own will simply disappear. We are surrounded by the most complete hypocrisy! The Regional Council sold the site to the Conservatory of the Coastal and Lake Areas on December 1, and on December 3 the Conservatory left the land to the Prefecture, in order to manage the reception of migrants, for a period of 6 years, concluding in December 2021 (see recital 6 page 3 of the judgment of the administrative court of Lille).
It is clear to the authorities that the migrants and the jungles will continue to exist. What, on the other hand, seems unclear, is the beginning of a suitable political vision. Violence and repeated destruction cannot take its place.