We reproduce below a statement from a grassroots group carrying out practical solidarity work in Calais.
As survival packs are distributed in Calais, migrants and solidarity groups call for human rights for all and an end to police repression.
Today [10 November], packs including blankets, ponchos, tarpaulins and hygiene packs were distributed to more than 200 people by Médecins du Monde in central Calais. British, French and Italian activists from Calais Migrant Solidarity and No Borders joined the event with an exhibition of recent police repression in and around Calais, a banner was hung from the church saying ‘To Migrate is to Resist’ and leaflets were distributed.
Florence Thomas of Calais Migrant Solidarity said, ‘We came here today to say that this is a great help to those that are forced to live out in the cold, but it is not enough. Unrelenting police harassment means migrants can never rest in peace and we are here to highlight that this humanitarian crisis results from deliberate UK and French policy.’
Since French immigration minister Eric Besson’s policy to make Calais a ‘migrant-free zone’ has begun, make-shift camps are being systematically destroyed and many squats have been razed, forcing people to live in increasingly precarious conditions. Today a Sudanese camp was again destroyed by CRS, the French riot police.
This intense police repression is designed to drive people even further out of town, out of sight, further from the support structures that exist like the food distributions. Médecins du Monde’s statement today called for an end to this police repression and also demanded that the materials that it distributed are respected.
Alex Davide from Calais No Borders said, ‘It is once again a situation where we are forced to plead for even the most basic human rights to be respected. The associations wanted to distribute tents, but they were prevented from doing so. Although these survival packs are welcome they do not address the root cause of the problem. We have come here today with paints and cloths and invited the migrants to express their demands and opinions. Too often they are perceived only as victims. We are organising in Calais with migrants and local people to build a political response to the situation. This means being critical of the whole European immigration policy which is persecuting those who are migrating.’
On sheets and huge pieces of paper messages written by people migrating included:
‘We are from Afghanistan. … We want human rights in Europe but especially in France. It’s not just the problem of UK, it is the problem of whole European countries.’
‘Look us what situation we living. We ask you the solution before 2010.’
‘Open the border plz.’ …
Florence Thomas concluded, ‘In Europe the right to sanctuary or to seek a better life is under attack and we believe that only collective political action can oppose this drift towards an extreme racism and xenophobia.’