Migrants: in Calais, the State and associations oppose the issue of camps

Nothing seems to be able to stand against the desire of England. Tuesday, November 2, according to our information, more than 800 people crossed the Channel from the French coast aboard small boats. A record figure which demonstrates to what extent neither the cold nor the living conditions in the Hauts-de-France camps deter migrants from wanting to reach the United Kingdom by an eminently perilous means. Since the start of the year, around 20,000 people have made this crossing. And nearly 6,000 who had to be rescued because they were in distress at sea.

Tuesday evening, while relief operations were still underway in the strait, the hunger strike started on October 11 by the chaplain of the Catholic Help in Calais (Pas-de-Calais) and two activists – who denounce the dismantling migrant camps – continued, at the town’s Saint-Pierre church. “They are starting to get tired but remain determined”, assures Clara Houin, of the association network Plateforme des supports aux migrants.

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A little earlier in the day, a new attempt at mediation led with them and the associations that support them by Didier Leschi, director of the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII), had taken place. ended in failure. Mandated by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, he wants to believe that “The dialogue continues”. “The final point of divergence is the question of the camps, Mr Leschi reports. The associations say that we must leave people there during the winter break. This is the hard point. “

A policy “detrimental to human dignity”

Since the dismantling, in October 2016, of the slum of Calais, in which up to 10,000 people were found, the authorities want to prevent the city from becoming a ” attachment point “ and, to do this, continually expel the informal places of life that are organized there. According to fluctuating and divergent estimates, there are today between 550 and 1,500 people scattered in different places in Calais and the surrounding towns, awaiting passage across the Channel. In February, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) reported that in 2020 there had been more than 1,000 dismantling of shelters, a policy it considered “Offensive to human dignity”.

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The hunger strikers demand the suspension of these evictions during the winter break. Faced with this, the State has put forward several proposals, such as preventing people before evacuations, giving them time to collect their belongings or even systematically offering them a place of accommodation, but outside of Calais. In vain. While waiting for an outcome to emerge, Didier Leschi announces that he will already ” enforce [ses] recommendations ”.

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Migrants: in Calais, the State and associations oppose the issue of camps