Fire at the Grand Synthe Camp : minors have been abandoned

The Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk was a place of contradictions. It had been created by the municipality and Médecins Sans Frontières to respond to a disastrous material situation on the site where an Exile camp was once and for several years. A disastrous situation due to the very rapid increase in the number of Exiles, from less than one hundred people in the Spring of 2015 to nearly three thousand in November of the same year. But also because of the intervention of the State, the Police controlling access and blocking the supply of tents and materials to build shelters (see here and there). The State tried to prevent the opening of the new refugee camp to international standards (see here and there), then agreed to finance it and changed the reception rules, following a logic of denial that new people might arrive and that the capacity for reception must accompany the variations of the number of people welcomed (see here, here, here and there). After a decline for several months, the number of people then doubled as a result of the destruction of the Calais shantytown at the end of October 2016. Since then, the situation has been deteriorating  until the final fire on the night of 10th / 11th April. Beyond these vicissitudes, the question remains whether refugee camps should be set up in France, one of the richest countries on the planet, where there are already reception facilities for both asylum-seekers and refugees, minors or homeless people.

It was known that there were isolated minors in the former camp on the Basroch site, but their visibility became greater with the creation of the refugee camp at the Linière at least for the associations that intervened. Because in this camp which was financed by the State, and which set up an association to manage it, the AFEJI, an association which is active in the field of child protection in particular, kept the minor children mixed with adults and beyond any protection framework. As if in this refugee camp the French law did not apply (see here and there).

And when the camp burned following violent confrontations between Exiles, no action is taken for the minors. Some have been relocated to gyms, mixed with adults, still outside any legal framework. The rest scattered, simply disappeared, without any follow-up.

Four associations are urging the British government to urgently welcome those minors who could enter the United Kingdom legally if the procedures permitting it were in place:

They also note that “at the moment no measures have been taken by the French or British authorities to provide safe accommodation for unaccompanied children at the Dunkirk camp, creating a real risk that children will disappear into chaos. ”

Victor Hugo : Paysage aux trois arbres.

Continuing Development of Extreme-Right-wing Activity


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! Some links may not yet be translated, sorry for the inconvenience.

The excessive media coverage of the Calais shantytown has been used both as a sounding board and a bullhorn by Calais’s extreme-right-wing. It began with masked press conferences following vigilante night patrols with the police near the camp and the ring road leading to the port. Likeminded groups from all over France come to Calais to lend a hand to extreme-rightists in Calais and the surrounding region, using the situation as a means of broadcasting and spinning events to propagate their own vision via posts and videos posted on social media (see here and here).

Meanwhile, in the shadows, individuals have used vehicles to stage swift violent attacks on exiles sometimes leaving their victims for dead. In February 2016, one vigilante group was arrested immediately following an attack, which in turn led to further arrests. News of the arrests sent a shock through extreme-right groups in Calais, causing schisms in some groups and causing some individuals to drop out. The group dynamic began to lose force, even though it didn’t entirely disappear.

Then came the destruction of the encampment, the closure of State sponsored shelters and local protective structures, and the expulsion of the camp’s inhabitants.

Almost as soon as the shantytown was taken apart, extreme-right activists began searching for the slightest evidence of “returning migrants.” These searches for evidence quickly became a hunt for those places where exiles found shelter. These discoveries are filmed, revealing locations where people are hiding, then diffused on social media and passed on to the police.

Once filming ends, and the camera is turned off, if the vigilantes are numerous enough, the fun begins – insults, intimidation, destruction, violence, as a number of exiles have testified. At this point a sophisticated game of “candid camera” ensues. When the camera is off, provocation, and if the victim responds the camera is swiftly turned back on to record am excellent image of “aggressive migrants.” The general situation is growing tenser, exacerbated by the fact that the police are never far off, and the complicity between police officers and extreme-right activists remains significant.


Dürer The Apocalypse

Dürer: The Apocalypse

Minors from Calais in the UK


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Below is a short briefing paper, four pages long, prepared by the Greater Manchester Immigration and Aid Unit on the minors from Calais who have arrived in the Greater Manchester region.

It describes Reception Conditions in the United Kingdom and the difficulties encountered by the children subject to them. In doing so, it is useful both for our own understanding of the situation, and as a source for the information we give minors about what they should expect on the other side of the Channel.

It also describes the psychological scars many of these children may bear as a result of violence experienced during their journeys, most particularly in Calais. Among these latter, there is the destruction of the shantytown itself – their home – and the ensuing stress among children sent to CAOMI (French Reception and Orientation Centres for minors – see here, here, here, here and here) where they often linger in complete uncertainty about their futures. The paper also provides information important for our perception of the situation at the border. Of the 40 minors from Calais who found their way to the GMIAU from January to February 2017, 18 crossed the border legally within the context of established procedures, while 22 crossed over illegally. In the cases of those children who entered legally, we are operating within the context of procedures established by the Home Office at the time of the Calais encampment’s destruction. However we are also working in a context in which both French and British authorities insist that the border is sealed and impossible to cross illegally.

The situation raises questions. Even when British authorities put extraordinary procedures in place permitting minors to legally enter British territory, more than half of the 40 minors discussed in the GMIAU’s briefing entered illegally.

And yet, at the same time, if nearly half the minors were allowed legal entry into British territory on the basis of criteria linked to both EU legislation (Dublin III) and a decision taken by the British parliament (the Dubs amendment (in French)), shouldn’t the maintenance of procedures then established be permanent?

However, today, nothing is in place that would allow unaccompanied, minor exiles stuck in Calais access to procedures leading to their legal entry into the United Kingdom. Today, the only possibility open to them is to hide themselves in lorries.

You can download the GMIAU’s briefing letter (in English) here.

Richard Estes -The Ice Cream Truck

Richard Estes : The Ice Cream Truck.

Distribution under police pressure


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Shortly before 6pm this Friday – some groups are already waiting on the corner of a vacant lot in an industrial area near Calais. The volunteers arrive and the food distribution begins. No police today – for now. Then a police vehicle drives in – national police, from Calais central police station. Then another. Then a first CRS van. Then another. The police forces get out of their vehicles, the atmosphere becomes oppressive, many of them are wearing bulletproof vests, one is handing its tear gas device, and another has pulled out its truncheon. They don’t seem to be here just for watching.

A little after 7:30 pm, an order: “let’s line up and move forward”. The policemen move without paying attention to the volunteers, the exiles leave more or less quickly, the policemen after them until everyone has disappeared in the bushes. They are not really trying to arrest anyone, they obviously want to break up the gathering around food distribution. Thus obviously again, they violate the ruling of the Administrative Court of Lille suspending the city by-laws that prohibited distributions in this area. Which authority, police hierarchy, prefecture or prosecutor is instructing them to violate the ruling of the court? We don’t know: none of them answers our questions on these daily facts.

The two cars from the Calais police station then leave while the CRS are staying. We see them moving away from their vehicles. A group of four exiles, looking very young, can be seen in a path. The CRS surround them, volunteers join. The police officers carry out an identity check, claiming they do so on requisition from the prosecutor covering this area and this time schedule, aimed at offenses against the CESEDA (Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and the Right to Asylum).

The discussion turns quite quickly about the selection of the people they check: only the dark-skinned people, no white-skinned is checked. Checks based on racial profiling is prohibited in France. Same discussion again and again, an ordinary matter of fact (see here, here, here and there) – and unacceptable matter of fact – in a country where prosecutors’ requisitions are used to back up such illegal practices. Then one of the volunteers says “I am a foreigner” – she is Italian, and in turn she is checked and put under arrest and taken to the police station (this time, border police) for identity check as she cannot show any document.

The four young exiles were body searched and questioned about their identity. All were 15 or 16 years old. After a long telephone call with their hierarchy, the CRS made them chose (in a very basic English) between being taken by the police to a house with beds and showers outside Calais, or just leaving. The four chose to leave. Under French law, a minor on the street and a minor who is not accompanied by an adult is a minor in danger, whom the authorities have an obligation to protect. Facing up the representatives of the authority, these four felt that the street was a better protection.

These are the same old facts – and their daily variations – over and over again, around the war on food distribution led by the authorities against associations standing in solidarity with exiles (see here, here, here and there).


Odilon Redon : The Fall of Icarus.


31st March in Paris : together against deportations to Sudan

Of course the Exiles are political subjects and will express in the public space ,visions and choices as to a particular situation or as to the society and its future. In any case, as the deportations to Sudan are multiplying and becoming commonplace, a collective of Exiles, Sudanese activists, are calling for mobilization.

Gathering in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Friday 31 March from 15:30 to 18:30.

You can download the text of the call here.

“Together against the expulsion of asylum seekers to Sudan”
Gathering to protest against the deportation of asylum seekers to Sudan
In front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday 31 March 2017 from 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm

Today the Sudanese are awaiting the execution of their deportation orders, as the French authorities have initiated deportation procedures for an increasing number of asylum seekers from Sudan in recent months without taking into account the situation of War in several parts of the country, notably in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile (the Quai d’Orsay strongly discourages French nationals from visiting these areas), nor serious violations of human rights throughout the country. France appears to be unaware that General Omar El Bechir is the only incumbent head of state that is being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. France no longer seems to recall that the provisions of the international conventions which prohibit the return of an asylum seeker to his or her country of origin if this is to endanger his life.

It is important to stress that Sudanese asylum seekers, like all applicants from other countries, do not have sufficient time to prepare their cases or do not receive assistance to understand the procedures.

The complexity of asylum applications and the legal and administrative limits that should not be exceeded. In addition, there are communication problems related to the insufficient number of interpreters in Arabic, but also in the other spoken languages of the country.

The majority of Sudanese asylum seekers arrive in France after a perilous crossing of the Mediterranean and a long and trying journey through several countries with the physical and psychological consequences that one might imagine that these young people who are leaving their country and their families for the first time. When they arrive in France, they are forced to sleep in the streets of the big cities. They lodge their asylum applications in conditions unworthy despite the help and efforts of NGOs.

With this gathering, we call on the French authorities to stop immediately the deportation of Sudanese asylum seekers to their country of origin because they are victims as soon as they return from pressures, threats, “prolonged” interrogations and all sorts of discrimination. Humanitarian and human rights organizations have reported cases of disappearance among those deported to Sudan, but also murders such as that of Mohamed Ahmed Mahmoud on 21st November 2016, the Sudanese services explained his death during the interrogations with the statement that he had thrown himself from the window of the fifth floor.

Stop the deportation of asylum seekers to Sudan !

Gathering organized by Sudanese activists and associations in France
Assembly area :
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
37, Quai d’Orsay 75007 Paris
Metro Line 8 and RER C: Gares des Invalides, near Esplanade des Invalides »

War of the meals in Calais: the State takes on the harassment done by the municipality


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Faced with the “arrêtés” taken by the town hall of Calais to prohibit the distribution of meals to the exiles on the outskirts of Calais, food distributions had started this Monday outside the hangar Paul Dévot, near the center of Calais (see here and here). In addition, an urgent appeal (urgent procedure) was filed Monday night and will be heard today Thursday at the Administrative Court of Lille.

The distributions of Monday and Tuesday evening went well, under the more inquisitive eye the first day, more distant the second, of a CRS van and a car of the municipal police.

Yesterday night, the Paul Dévot hangar was surrounded by CRS vans and police cars, people from the associations approaching were checked, distribution could not take place there, there were police officers saying they had a requisition from the prosecutor (so in principle for identity checks, and it would be interesting to see it and to see how the prosecutor motivates identity checks that are aimed at preventing people from eating).

The distribution took place a little further, in front of the former Calais Labor Office, which was also the place of shelter of the exiles under the Great Cold Plan between 2007 and 2014, and which the town hall of Calais today leaves abandoned like many other buildings it owns.

At the end of the distribution, CRS vans deploy and an identity check is announced with a megaphone (on what legal basis?). Two exiles do not flee, a minor with a broken foot, and an adult who has his arm in a sling and can not run. Both are taken by the BAC (Anti-Crime Brigade – so it is criminal to eat). And volunteers are controlled before being left free to go.

So that’s how it goes in Calais, but also elsewhere, from Calais to La Roya via Paris, all along the corridor of state inhospitality which runs from the Italian border to the British border – and after all over the territory?

In any case, we will always be there.

Paul Signac: Breakfast.

Alert: deportation to Sudan happened today


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As we have previously alerted, the expulsion of Mohammed Moussa to Sudan was expected to take place this morning.

“Despite the mobilization of 4 passengers and 1 steward, the flight #QR042 took off. Mohamed was drugged. (..)” from the Twitter account of La Chappelle Debout collective.

He was on the Qatar Airways flight to Doha from 9:25 am to Charles de Gaulle airport, terminal 1.

A call to gather on site from 7 am to noon:

Here is the testimony he gave to the collective La Chapelle Debout for it to be published:

“Are you sending me away to die? Give me my freedom “

Today we spoke with Mohamed Moussa who has been locked up for 43 days at the Mesnil Amelot and can be expelled via Doha with the company Qatar Airways by the flight of 9:25 this Thursday, March 16, 2017, one day before the end of his detention.

Stop the deportation of Mohamed Moussa and those of all others.

*rough translation*

“I was a trader. I was selling food between northern Darfur and the south where I come from (Nyala) to Sudan.

I was selling sugar, oil, flour, tea, tomato sauce and even coca and pepsi. Sometimes I also sold clothes like pants when there were some. Twice a month I used public transport to make the shuttle between the North and the South.
I had inherited a small nest egg to do this buisness. He came partly from the inheritance after the death of his father, who was also a merchant and owned a small supermarket.

I am 30 years old and am the elder of a family of 5. There are my brother Amjad, 26 years old, and I have three sisters: Majda (24), Mahla (22) and Maissa years).

My father died killed by the war and the Janjaweed by Chiria.

You must know that Mohamed is Zaghawa. This ethnic group represents 6% of the Sudanese population and is targeted and persecuted by the Sudanese government [1].

It is with this same government that France and the European Union sign “cooperation agreements” in which some give money or make “debt relief” when the others undertake to control their nationals well And their borders.

“One day when I was returning to see my sick mother, I was caught by a militia who took me to a depot next to a railway line near Nyala. From there, I was transferred to a prison 15 km from the city where I stayed for 10 months. I do not want to remember or talk about what happened there. That part of my life was very hard, black. We were in 2012.

“Following my uncle’s intervention, militiamen amongst those who locked me up came to see me and told me they would let me go on the express condition that I leave my Darfur land. So I went to Al Fashir and then I went to Libya.

There, after doing various odd jobs, I worked as a farm worker in a field for a boss who hosted me from 2013 to 2015. Despite the war I could have stayed there if I had not had a job, Other problems. Twice members of militias and armed gangs came to rackle the farm, I was threatened because I had no money, insult, and mistreat. I was threatened with death: “We’ll kill you dirty stranger,” they said. Several times I went to see my boss who answered: “that’s how I can do nothing.”

In September 2016, I took a small boat.

I paid 1,000 Lybian dinars. I traveled in the hold as I had not paid a lot of money. We were 110 people piled up for 11am, after which we were accosted by another larger boat in which we stayed two days before arriving in Italy.

I managed not to leave my fingerprints in Italy.

I arrived in Paris last October and spent 5 days at La Chapelle to sleep in the street. In front of the Camp. I wanted to rest but it was not possible. Several people advised me there to go to Calais because it was simpler for the procedures, faster and there were organizations that helped the exiles.

On 31/01, I had two euros left in my pocket and I was hungry.

I “went shopping” and sat in a public park to eat.

The police came to see him and they asked for my papers.

I did not understand anything [Mohamed does not speak French and very little English]. They took me to the police station and there they gave me a paper. I refused to sign because I did not understand what was written [it was an obligation to leave the French territory].

From the police station I was taken to a second center “Paris Charles de Gaulle”.

This is where I wanted to apply for asylum but I was told it was too late. [2]

In all I went five times before the judge. I had different translators every time but very often I did not understand what they were saying because we did not speak the same Arabic.

In court I was accused of not having applied for asylum on my arrival. I said, however, that I could not do it without knowing where to go and knowing neither the language nor the institutions.

At the end of February, on the 22nd, if I remember correctly, the prison police came with 4 Sudanese people. I do not know why they came to see me. The police did not explain.

The Sudanese have told me that they are part of a humanitarian organization that helps exiles. They looked odd that’s why I was suspicious and mostly silent.

Because of my attitude they ended the discussion and I was brought back to my cell [3]

They already wanted to expel me on February 24 but they could not because there was no paper from the embassy.

If I return to Sudan, the militia will kill me. I can not go home!

Moreover, my tribe is perceived as an opponent of the regime.

Do you send me back to die? Give me my freedom and let me begin my steps. Imprisoned I can not do anything. I am Darfuri and threatened with death!

How do you want me to take steps when I need time to understand how to do, know and know where to go ?!

I point out that the attitude of the police is incorrect and that at no time did I have a translator who spoke my language, my rights were violated.

I did not find the justice I hoped for in France. Pity.


[2] This is the Mesnil Amelot detention center.

[3] Normally, migrants are presented to the embassies on which they depend. They must recognize the national and issue a consular pass so that they can be expelled.
We note the novelty since here the police and the administration work but in hand with the embassy. Everything is good to deport.
We add that, while access to the ARC is easily accessible to the Sudanese government, it is not the same for citizens, doctors or lawyers, and even state-approved associations In fact, they are very strictly controlled and especially limited in their prerogatives.

Like a restart


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For the people who knew Calais before the creation of the slum under the pressure of the public authorities in March – April 2015, the scene looks familiar. The truck loading dock, under a roof, of the Paul Dévot hangar was one of the places where meals were distributed until the public authorities conceded a place on Moscow street in 2009. Then again, after the evacuation of the place set up for the distribution of meals occupied by the exiles on 2 July 2014. The other place of distribution was a vacant lot on the Moselle quay, which is no longer practicable since there is a building under construction.

It was at the hangar Paul Dévot that the associations decided to organize the distribution of meals last night, in response to the municipal “arretes” prohibiting them in different sectors of the city. People from all walks of life in solidarity with the exiles have come, beyond the divergences which have been strong in the last two years, into a unit at least provisionally found.

To older people in Calais, the situation may be reminiscent of the period following the closure of the Sangatte Center in the autumn of 2002, when it was necessary to re-establish solidarity under the police harassment that meets the basic needs , to eat, to wash, to dress. In the absence of even a shelter, failing to have access to his fundamental rights.

Salomon Koninck: Philosopher with open book.

Death during an attempt to cross


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An Afghan exile died following an attempt to cross this Saturday. He had jumped off a truck that was going in the wrong direction, and lost consciousness while trying to go back to the Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk.

This is the second death at the border since the beginning of the year. On January 21, Johnsina died crushed on the highway near Calais.