Socialist Worker

Refugees in French camps to resist cruel clampdown

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2486

Refugees tents and makeshift shelters in Calais - set to be bulldozed this week

Refugees' tents and makeshift shelters in Calais - set to be bulldozed this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


French authorities were set to bulldoze huge swathes of the refugees’ “jungle” shantytown in Calais by the end of this week at just days’ notice.

Regional prefect Fabienne Buccio announced plans to clear out any tents or shelters within 100 metres of the motorway embankment that forms the jungle’s border.

This will affect 500 people by her own figures—and far more according to activists.

L’Auberge des Migrants charity activist Christian Salome pointed out that “100 metres is the distance that allows riot police to fire teargas bombs without risking getting hit by stones”. He warned that it was “the first step in dismantling” the jungle.

Aid agencies say they won’t have time to help most of the refugees affected by the clearance to relocate.

In a statement refugees living in the camp said, “We the united people of the jungle Calais respectfully decline the demands of the French government with regards to reducing the size of the jungle. We have decided to peacefully resist the government’s plans to destroy our homes.”

Cops regularly fill the jungle with tear gas. Activists report seeing them stand alongside far right thugs as they throw stones at refugees.

Now Calais police have been sent three military-type armoured vehicles to police refugees.

The number suggests the highest levels of government may be preparing to intervene. To deploy more than two at once would need the authorisation of prime minister Manuel Valls.

Containers

This week also marks the opening of the government’s official camp in Calais. A few hundred refugees deemed the most vulnerable will be allowed to sleep in refitted shipping containers.

But all the state’s “humanitarian” measures are aimed at trapping migrants under its control. Many end up detained or deported.

The lockdown in Calais—part funded by Britain’s Tories—has seen other shantytowns spring up in the region.

In the largest at Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk up to 3,000 people face conditions even worse than Calais.

Cops are obstructing aid, and regional authorities tried to block local plans to build a refugee camp with charity Doctors Without Borders.

There is resistance from refugees and their supporters.

A demonstration was set to take place in Boulogne outside the trial of volunteer Rob Lawrie on Thursday of this week.

He tried to help a young Afghani girl reach relatives in Leeds after her father pleaded with him to get her out of the Jungle. The girl is back in the Jungle and Rob faces a possible five years in jail or a fine of more than £20,000.

And anti-racists from across Britain and France are set to protest in Calais on Saturday 23 January, as Greek and Turkish groups demonstrate at the European Union’s land border.

The more cruel the clampdown on refugees in France, the more urgent the need to force the Tories to let them into Britain.

Join the demonstrations on 19 March standuptoracism.org.uk

 


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