If it hadn’t been for the media inflated headlines, the blocade of the highway to ask for the destruction of the shantytown, the right wing calls against the dispersal of refugees in France and the presidential elections coming up the government might not have initiated the destruction of the south part of the jungle. The Prefecture has ownership of the land for six years which demonstrates the will to maintain things as they are and we had anticipated more partial operations to come such as the one against the shops in camp.
But the destruction of the shantytown poses the question of where people are going to go, the new people arriving in Calais as well as those who will be dispersed throughout the whole of France and who will come back because their project is not to stay here. And we are talking about thousands of people, the phenomenon will not go unnoticed and will mean failure for the government.
On the other hand the violence of evictions has always had a negative impact on public opinion which is a risk during election time.
In response the government will put in place the forced displacement of thousands of people as a ‘humanitarian’ operation. So that they appear credible and to counter attack the opposition, the government is putting pressure on the NGOs so that they can take on the humanitarian aspect of the operation. Any other position than this governmental fiction would play into the hands of the xenophobic campaign from the right wing.
It has probably used all the contacts and means of influence it has. With success,apparently if we believe the echoes out of the Tuesday’s meeting in Paris of the “Centres de Reception et d’Orientation” scheme steering committee (see here, here, here and here) – the scheme which will be hosting the evicted people of the shantytown.
On the ground the police is still banning building materials and some inhabitants will have to start the autumn under canvas. The police are putting pressure on volunteers. They keep throwing tear gas. . and here in Calais far from the comfortable meeting rooms of the ministry, everybody remembers the destruction of the south part of the Shantytown which had also been presented as a humanitarian operation where a solution would be proposed to everyone. When the CRS and bulldozers are there, the promises disappear and there only remains the brutality of the ratio of power.
But at the time of the destruction of the south part only the government was lying. Today a part of the NGO world is lying alongside them.
six months ago, the humanitarian destruction of the southern part of the Calais shantytown. Images: association Polyvalence.