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Along the years of the evictions that followed the closure of the Sangatte Center in 2002, the exiles had no longer shelter and were chased from place to place, but the pressure of the associations helped in gaining some improvements.

Thus, during the winter bewteen 2007 and 2008, after the State was vainly questioned, the mayor of Calais requisitioned the former building of the Calais Office of the Workforce (BCMO) in order to shelter exiles during the night as part of the Extreme Cold Plan (in France, to have a place to house vulnerable and homeless people ensuring they are safe in case of very cold temperatures). This measure was then proposed again in the following years, despite the change of political majority in the town hall, finally with the support of the State.

The public authorities only provided the walls, and it has been up to the associations to manage the place. There were volunteers who ensured the welcoming during the night, distributed cardboards and blankets for sleeping, spent the whole night there, ensured the closure in the morning, most of the time also distributed breakfast, and the people housed there spent then the day outside. The place used to open only when the Extreme Cold plan was activated at its level 2, and closed as soon as the temperature rose.

The toilets of the BCMO remained closed, except for the volunteers, probably it was not possible to make them dirty, chemical toilets were installed outside for the exiles. Sometimes the police arrested the people who went out to get there, or parked in the front.

The conditions evolved from the winter between 2013 and 2014. An association, Solid’R, is told to manage the system, on a professional basis, with a budget to improve the conditions of welcoming. The increasing  number of exiles in Calais during 2014 leads the prefecture to rent a larger hangar since the winter between 2014 and 2015.


This winter nothing seems to be in place, while the cold is worse day after day. After the closure of the office to register asylum applications in the sub-prefecture of Calais, this is another measure that has been put in place over time that we now see disappearing, after the destruction of the slum.


1024px-pieter_bruegel_d-_a-_107Pieter Brueghel the Elder: Winter landscape with ice skaters and bird trap.