Calais gives a feeling of emptiness after the destruction of the shantytown. Sure, it is no longer “the place to be” Yet there are just under two thousand five hundred Exiles (1800 miners in the container camp, four hundred women and children in the Jules Ferry centre), an indefinite number sleeping in front of the containers, hiding in what has not been destroyed in the shantytown, or hiding in the city and its surroundings. This is equivalent to the maximum ever known during the time of the Sangatte centre, and it is a situation which was not found in Calais before 2014.
The situation of these people remains uncertain, just as the situation from those areas to the Reception and Orientation centres (CAO – see here, here;here,and here) is uncertain. Here, the raids continue in the streets and parks, as well as racial profiling and arrests in stations. The risk of expulsion to countries such as Afghanistan and Sudan are real.
And then people will continue to want to go to the UK. It is unclear how they will be divided between the various crossing points based on the level of difficulty and techniques used (in 2010, there were almost as many Exiles in Ostend as Calais, for example), but we know that overall the situation will be similar to what we experienced during previous evictions.
An extraordinary solidarity was shown from throughout Europe from summer 2015. It is important that it does not dry up. Although Calais has now disappeared from television screens after the destruction of the slum, we must not be duped by this ‘spectacular’ politics. The question of the Exiles on the border remains. A significant number of people remain there, in Calais and in other camps, others will come, others will go back, forced to leave Calais because of the eviction.
Don’t leave, or come back to us after a brief vacation. Far from the cameras now your solidarity remains important.