In Calais, the government offers accommodation to get out of the crisis

In their makeshift camps in Calais, the migrants began a mass hunger strike, putting the government under pressure as the winter truce began.

Towards a way out of the crisis? The state pledges to “systematically” provide accommodation for migrants who will be expelled from their makeshift camps in Calais, as a mass hunger strike puts pressure on the government at the start of the winter break.

The proposal, which will be formally drafted for local actors on Tuesday by the government mediator sent to the site, comes on the 23rd day of the hunger strike started by three activists. This continues after fruitless initial discussions last week, against the backdrop of near-daily evacuations of camps in this border town with the UK.

“We will offer accommodation systematically, which will mainly be in Pas-de-Calais, in Hauts-de-France, but not in Calais,” recommended this broker, Head of the French Immigration and Integration Office (Ofii) Didier Leske. Thus the latter admitted, de facto, that the evacuations of the camps in Calais were not always accompanied by proposals for shelter, and this is nonetheless the rule.

He emphasized that in order to fulfill its obligation, the state would have to “increase its accommodation base” by “several hundred places”.

shadow of the jungle

Admittedly, the Director-General of the Ofii has been sent on a “communication and mediation mission” with the strikers, Reverend Philippe Demeester, a 72-year-old Secor Catholic priest, and two activists, Anis Vogel and Ludovic Holbein, who are calling for an end to dismantling in the winter.

But the state’s commitment also responds to fear: “The government fears that +the forest + will remake itself in Calais”, five years after the dismantling of this massive camp in October 2016, which, in chaotic humanitarian conditions, united up to 10,000 candidates to cross into England.

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“This fear is related to the scale of the flows: since the beginning of the year, close to 40,000 people have arrived” on the north coast, explains Didier Leske. “The state cannot knowingly allow the organization of a secret departure base for England, while people are risking their lives in addition to crossing the Channel,” he added.

At the conclusion of the talks last Wednesday and Thursday, local actors denounced an “electoral” visit, while the hunger strikers estimated that the mediator did not offer “no solutions”, during a press point on the stairs of St. Mar’s Church. – Pierre in Calais, where it has been installed day and night for more than three weeks.

And they, like the associations that intervene in Calais, denounce the “inhumane” subsistence of the exiles, who live in unsanitary camps with daily evacuees, and see themselves, moreover, confiscating their meager personal belongings before the option of expulsion.

45 minutes to collect your things

“It is necessary to leave the possibility for people to recover their personal belongings before the accommodation operations,” the Chief Ofii suggests at this point.

Concretely, the migrants will now be left with a period of “about 45 minutes” to collect their belongings: “There will be no evacuees by surprise,” the mediator promised, also assuring that the Ofii raid will pass before each evacuation “a social diagnosis is carried out jointly with the associations.

These proposals may take effect from “the weekend”, at the discretion of Didier Leske, who should meet with the strikers at the end of the morning, then the unions at the beginning of the afternoon, to convey these written commitments. But these proposals do not respond to the main demand of his interlocutors, who are demanding a “stop” of the evacuations, as the winter truce went into effect on Monday.

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In an open letter to the police and published Monday in La Voix du Nord, even before the second meeting with the government mediator, Reverend Philippe Demeestre compared police actions towards immigrants with those of “battalion soldiers”. recently sent to Algeria.

“Today, still under the guise of obedience, you are allowing, in Calais, the inhumane police operations to continue – you know very well it is a dirty job, don’t you? He wrote, calling on the police to ‘enter into resistance’ in order that ‘the barbarism will not continue here.’ Is it likely? To continue the hunger strike?

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