FEBRUARY 18th 2016
Post date: 05-Jul-2016 20:42:00
I FEEL REALLY DEPRESSED RIGHT NOW. I AM ONLY 24 YEAR'S OLD AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE
February 18th 2016
With the impending destruction of two thirds of the camp possibly happening next week by the French authorities, 'Welcome to Our Jungle' - a participatory photography project by the people of the Calais refugee camp have been in camp working with our participants to explore what this means for them.
"These are the containers that they have built for the refugees. They said that in the next couple of weeks they will destroy the Jungle, and the houses that we have built. I think that these containers look like a prison camp, there are some people that prefer to stay there especially those who are new to the Jungle and don't have anywhere to stay.
In there you will have to share accommodation with 18 different people, cultures and languages, you can't have too many belongings because others might steal them from you.
I have been living in the Jungle for more than 6 months in a tent. I helped other people to build their shelters and after a long time they finally helped me to build my own place. This is my home. In here I have my guitar which keeps me company and happy when I feel alone. I have my photography camera that inspires me to document my life in the Jungle, I feel that I am getting good at taking pictures and over the last 3 months I have decided that I want to be a photographer. In my house I am warm, and I try to decorate it with the little that has been donated to me. I like to be in my home when things get too hard out there. In here I feel safe and have a big sense of identity that reminds me who I am after everything I have been through.
There is space for only 750 more people in the containers, we don't know what is going to happen to the rest of us when they destroy our homes? Where will we go? For how long? Are we going to be safe? Why they are doing this to us? Haven't we suffered enough? We came to Europe to feel safe after we escaped from the darkness that is in our countries, we never thought that Europe was going to treat us this way. They are taking our freedom, our hope, our sense of community, the family areas, our religious places and they are putting us in these containers without any explanation of what is going to happen to us or for how long are we going to stay there...
I feel really depressed right now, I am only 24 years old and I don't know what to do with my life."
© Habibi / Welcome to Our Jungle 2016
AREA DUE FOR DEMOLITION
February 18th 2016
DEAR PRIME MINISTER, I AM ASKING YOU AS A FATHER TO A FATHER TO HELP ME SAVE OUR LIVES
February 18th 2016
A hello to the prime minister of the Great, Great Britain. Mr. David Cameron. I was wondering if I could take up a few minutes of your precious time for you to read this letter from an unfortunate and homeless refugee.
I am a refugee, who had to flee his country with his wife in order to save our lives, and the life of our unborn child, who was born in the jungle.
With all the horrendous suffering on the journey, and cruelty at the hands of the smugglers, we managed to get to Calais jungle, where the good people of the U.K. provided us with a good caravan for me and my heavily pregnant wife.
After moving into the caravan for a few days, my wife went into labour and we were taken to the hospital. 3 days after the birth of our child, we were set back to the jungle. The weather had become so cold and as a result of not having anything to warm our baby up, she’d got a really bad chest infection. My wife had also got a very serious infection in her breast and required emergency surgery.
They were both admitted to the hospital.
The humidity, and our inability to dry ourselves off from the wet weather also caused me to get ill; I got a very serious infection in my intestines and also had to have emergency surgery. After 40 days of all of us being hospitalised, we were told y the hospital and French officials that we could not take our baby back to the jungle with us, and unless we’d seek asylum in France, our baby would be taken off us and given to a French family until something was decided. So for our baby’s sake, we claimed asylum.
But as soon as the paperwork was done, they sent us back to the jungle.
It has now been 6 months since we have been living in the jungle. We have visited the immigration centre on numerous occasions but they have told us they have no accommodation or Iranian families, no allowance or any further support.
Because of my wife’s operation on her breast, she is not able to breast feed our baby girl at all. I have no choice but to find powdered baby milk for my little girl, but the smugglers have taken all the money I had to my name.
If it wasn’t for the kind volunteers who care about humanity, my baby girl would have died in a country where they claim they uphold human rights. Almost every week, we have families visit us from the UK to see how we are doing, bringing our baby clothes and milk.
I don’t understand. I have witnessed time and time again how people are willing to risk their lives to save a cat or a dog; are our lives not equal to that of the animals that we have been left here? We ran away for our lives, and it seems our life has no more value here than it did in the place we escaped from.
Just imagine it was one of your family members, friends or relatives in the jungle right now, would you still be willing to stick to your decision in refusing to help us?
Please come to the jungle just once, come and feel our pain. Come and see if this is an appropriate place to raise a child. My baby girl hasn’t had a shower in 3 months, this isn’t fair or just.
I don’t want to get involved in your politics, I just want to reach out to you as a father. As a father, you know that the hardest thing is to watch your child suffer; but every day, I watch my baby suffer and I wish I could die than see it.
I tried to save my baby’s life when I ran away…I didn’t realise I would bring her to a place where we will all die slowly and painfully instead.
I am asking you to help me as a father to father, and save our lives. I await your reply
Public figures, Help Refugees, Letters Live and Citizens UK today called on David Cameron to save children trapped in Calais 'jungle'.
An unprecedented coalition of 145 well-known figures from cinema, television, theatre, art, business, sport and literature as well as Help Refugees, Letters Live and Citizens UK today publish an open letter to David Cameron calling for urgent action to save the #childrenofcalais, and invite the public to READ, SIGN AND SHARE here:
A full list of signatories and the text of the letter is below.
Jude Law, Shappi Khorsandi, Idris Elba, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Branson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Curtis, Stephen Fry, Helena Kennedy, Gary Lineker, Phillip Pullman and Tom Stoppard are among the list of names which represent the best of British talent and the arts coming together to urge the Prime Minister to step in and allow unaccompanied children living in the Jungle to be reunited with their families in the UK.
They say in the letter: “This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible.”
They are seeking to draw attention to the plight of the 291 unaccompanied children in the Jungle who have a legal right to join family in the UK, and are stuck in a dangerous bureaucratic limbo with the imminent demolition of the Jungle on the horizon.
On Monday 22 February, the French authorities are due to demolish the southern part of the ‘Calais Jungle’ which would destroy the temporary homes of over 3,000 people. This section of the camp is predominantly occupied by unaccompanied children and families. A census conducted on Monday by Help Refugees found 440 children living in this section of the camp, 291 of which are unaccompanied. Public figures are urging David Cameron to intervene to ensure that refugee children are protected.
Citizens UK has identified hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Calais who have valid legal claims to have their asylum applications processed in the UK. The first of these cases was heard in the UK Courts last month; the court ruled that the children should legally be reunited with family in the UK while their asylum cases were processed. Citizens UK have already largely identified, screened and begun to process the minors in question.
The letter is open for the public to sign at: http://www.refugees-welcome.org.uk/childrenofcalais/
Jude Law said: “Last week I visited the camp, and met some of these unaccompanied children who have no choice but to endure the horrific conditions of the Jungle. These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them. David Cameron and the British Government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis.”
Lliana Bird and Josie Naughton of Help Refugees said: “These children have already suffered severe trauma in their home countries and have risked their lives in dangerous sea and land journeys just to reach their families in the UK. Our Government must intervene to expedite the process to reunite them with their loved ones and help bring an end to their suffering and ensure those that remain in France are receiving adequate care. The bulldozing must be prevented until assurances are given that this will happen.”
Simon Cuff at Citizens UK said: “The Jungle should not exist. Clearing it is important work – but as the bulldozers move in the children living there must not be forgotten. Those with rights to be with their families in the Britain should be reunited with them, those without the right to the UK should receive specialist support and care from the French. Not chased off by police in riot gear.”
“We’re hugely grateful to all the public figures who’ve stood up and stepped out to help protect these refugee children. There is no time to lose to reunite them with their loved ones before the demolitions begin in earnest. Help Refugees UK are doing an amazing humanitarian job on the ground, we’re working to help people access their legal rights - but this should not be falling to charitable organisations in the first place. Governments need to get in there, bring order to the chaos and create safe legal routes to protect people.”
Liz Clegg, of the unofficial women and children’s centre said: “We are horrified that the French Government have chosen to take this action and clear the southern part of the jungle in Calais, where the majority of families and children are presently living. This includes hundreds of unaccompanied children as young as 10. The UN, Europe and France itself have clear guidelines with regards to the treatment of minors. We have been in the jungle for six months working with women and children, and not a single representative of the government or main aid agencies have approached us to start identifying who these children are. If the eviction takes place it is likely we will lose contact with many of these children and they will be subjected to further suffering and great danger. We beg the government to hold off with this eviction until appropriate child protection measures are put in place.”
Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, Artistic Directors of The Good Chance Theatre, said: “No one deserves to live in the jungle, least of all the hundreds of unaccompanied children. Many of them rely on the theatre and other community spaces to make this situation bearable. We must all work together to ensure proper provision is made for them in the event of a large scale eviction.”
HERE IS THE LETTER:
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street,
18th February, 2016
RE: A call on The British Government to intervene as a matter of urgency in the refugee crisis in Calais and Dunkirk.
The recent announcement by the Calais prefecture to raze the Southern part of the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais is an act that if allowed to happen, will destroy the temporary homes of over 3000 people including 443 children. Many of these people are amongst the most vulnerable in the camps as this is where the majority of families and unaccompanied minors currently live.
Such an enforced move would uproot again those who have already had to abandon their homes due to war and persecution. The eviction also threatens vital community facilities built and run by the residents and volunteers including a Women and Children’s Centre, the Youth Centre, three mosques, one Orthodox church, three classrooms, the camp’s only library, The Good Chance Theatre, the Legal Centre, the Vaccination Centre and three crucial distribution centres for aid and food. These spaces offer much-needed respite and comfort for all those living in the intensely difficult conditions within the camp.
We, the undersigned, a number of whom have seen first-hand the refugee camps in the last few days, urge the British government to do three things:
1) To create an expedited process for the implementation of Dublin III’s family reunion provisions so that all minors who are currently residing in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk with family connections in the UK are able to reunite with their loved ones with immediate effect.
2) To ensure that those minors who have no legal right to come to the UK are protected and supported within France and that the French child protection process is also expedited to afford them the protection they are
3) To persuade the French authorities that the decision to destroy further parts of the camp in Calais is postponed until all the minors currently residing there are either given child protection within the French system or enabled to reunite with their loved ones in Britain.
We believe the above actions are the absolute minimum that the British government should be taking to alleviate the suffering of the refugees in Calais, and must be made an urgent priority. The British charitable organisations, Help Refugees and Citizens UK, have already largely identified, screened and begun to process the minors in question. This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible.
Letters Live, Help Refugees, Citizens UK, The Good Chance Theatre, and the following signatories...
Sir Christopher Bland
Claire Van Kampen
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Kennedy QC
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Kirkland Newman Smulders
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas
Philippe Sands QC
Sir Richard Eyre
Russell T Davies
Sir Tom Stoppard
February 18th 2016
Summary note - Evictions in the Calais Jungle
Next Tuesday there will be a hearing in the court in Lille regarding the proposed eviction of the southern half of the refugee camp known as the Calais ‘Jungle’.
It has been estimated that the eviction notice will affect around 3400 men, women and children, the majority of whom will be left homeless. The French authorities are offering just 700 additional places in the new container camp. The strategy of shipping people out to smaller camps around France has already been seen not to work. These camps are often in remote locations with insufficient facilities and the refugees simply return to Calais unaided, as Calais is where they want to be. The 2500 people living in these remote camps right now only moved there on the basis that they would be returned to Calais at the end of March 2016.
Over the last six months UK citizens have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds and hundreds of thousands of man-hours building shelters, schools and community centers, setting up medical facilities, community welfare and art services. If the eviction goes ahead all this will be destroyed and this incredible investment will wasted; and yet nothing will be achieved. Refugees will still come to Calais - their living conditions will just be so much more inhumane. We have been told that if this eviction goes ahead, the remainder of the camp will be evicted in the following weeks.
The question in point is absolutely not ‘what is the answer to the refugee crisis?’ and it is critical not to be distracted by this - this is a question for national governments and European authorities to decide. The question is - what should happen in Calais while this debate goes on? And, while the Jungle has many faults and issues, at this point in time it is all we have.
THE EVICTION AND BULLDOZING OF THIS LAND MUST THEREFORE BE STOPPED BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
The proposed clearance of the southern half of the camp was announced on Friday 12 February when the associations were told that they had one week before the French authorities would issue a 48 hour eviction notice on this land. In contrast to the previous time this happened – when a 100 metre zone by the motorway was bulldozed – it is questionable whether there will be any advantage to be gained by moving the shelters in the southern zone. We have heard that if the clearance of the southern half goes ahead the French Authorities will then also clear the northern half in the coming weeks.
It therefore appears that the only option available is to contest this decision politically.
Our understanding is that, in late 2014, a halt was called to clearances of squats and small camps in Calais city centre until the Jules Ferry centre opened in March 2015 and the land next to it was made available to refugees. At this time the associations working for the refugees in Calais were informed that, if the migrants settled on this plot of land placed at their disposal by the town council, they would not be at any risk of expulsion. It would therefore appear that if they are now evicted this would be a promise broken by French Authorities.
In terms of where they could move to now it has been suggested that 700 paces will be made available in the new container camp. However, we estimate that if the southern half of the camp is cleared this will make around 3000 people homeless as this is the more densely populated half of the camp.
It has also been suggested that the refugees could move to the winter respite centres (CAOs) set up around France by the French Authorities in November. There are currently 2500 refugees staying in these centres and we understand that a further 2000 places will be available. However, this needs to be considered in the context of why there are refugees in Calais.
There are millions of refugees in Europe due to current worldwide events. In this context the 5000 in Calais is actually a small number. Many are here because they have family in the UK, have lived in the UK before and English is their second language. They come to Calais because they want to go to the UK, so they don’t want to be in a centre in Marseille or Nimes. When the winter respite centres were set up in November we were told that they were purely to get through the depths of winter, that there was no obligation to claim asylum in France and that refugees staying in them would be brought back to Calais in March. Without this promise it is unlikely they would have agreed to go there.
The Southern part of the Jungle is the more densely populated half and is also home to most of the families, many of whom have young children. This area also contains many community facilities that have been put in place over the last six months by an army of volunteers, the majority of whom have come over from the UK.
Facilities that will be lost include the women and children’s centre which offers a place of refuge to over 200 women and children, the newly built youth centre, offering support and safety to hundreds of young boys, three mosques, one orthodox church and three schools, in addition to the camp’s library, Jungle Books and the good chance Theatre, the legal centre which offers vital asylum advice and the vaccination centre, which was instrumental in containing the measles outbreak as well as a potential influenza outbreak. In the affected area there are three aid distribution points as well three hot food distribution points, including the Ashram Kitchen, which serve a total of 2000 meals a day.
For people who have lost everything, having no choice but to flee terrible circumstances, it would be the ultimate tragedy for them to now loose for no reason what little comfort we have been able to bring to their lives.
HELP REFUGEES CALAIS STATEMENT: OUR CONCERNS
February 18th 2016
Last Friday, 12th Feb, the Calais Prefecture announced they would bulldoze the entire Southern section of the camp in Calais. They stated that there were 800-1000 refugees living in that zone that was to be evacuated.
Since then our team on the ground in Calais has been working tirelessly with the communities in the camp to identify the best ways to help an already vulnerable population as they are displaced once more. We estimate that there are over 3000 people living in the affected area, of which 400 children, 300 of whom are unaccompanied. We will be able to give you more information on this in the coming days. We expect the French authorities to post an eviction notice in the coming days, giving 24 hours or the bulldozing to commence. Our team are doing their best to prepare for every eventuality in the meantime so that we can be in the best position possible to support the residents of the camp during this distressing time.
Many of you have been asking what the objections are to the impending eviction and the relocation of refugees to the Containers, COA’s (Accommodation and Orientation centers) and CADA (Asylum Seekers’ hosting centres), so we’d like to take this opportunity to respond to these questions.
Whilst Help Refugees commends any move by the authorities to provide better living conditions to refugees in the makeshift camps, we have serious concerns about this move for the following reasons.
1. The area to be cleared is shown in red below. The French authorities have estimated this represents 800-1000 residents. The Shipping Containers accommodate 1500 people in total and there are only 461 available places left. At the moment only 50 people per day are able to move into the containers. At that rate only 350 people (of the 3000+ in the affected area) could be accommodated in the next week (when we understand the forced eviction is likely to take place) leaving a huge number without the option to move into the containers.
2. The CAO/CADA accommodation includes a variety of accommodation options such as caravan parks and disused holiday centres in 92 different locations around France. It is unclear how long this accommodation will be available.
There is currently a maximum capacity of 60 people per day who can be taken to these facilities. At this rate only 420 could be accommodated within the next week and it unclear if there would be enough spaces for all of the people living in the affected area, since the authorities' population estimation appears considerably lower than that of our long-term volunteers who work in the camp every day.
3. Asking so many people to move in such a short space of time is not logistically viable, and not possible to do so in a way that maintains dignity for the refugees themselves.
4. A large scale move/eviction such as the one proposed needs to be handled with care and consideration, to avoid any unnecessary stress and harm to vulnerable people in the camp, including those suffering trauma, already displaced from their homes and cultures, and the hundreds of unaccompanied children.
5. Under Dublin III unaccompanied children have the legal right to be reunited with their nuclear families in the UK. There are believed to be hundreds of children in the camp to who are receiving legal assistance to make this possible but there is now a genuine concern that in the confusion of this hasty eviction these children will be lost in the system.
6. Essential services that volunteer organisations currently provide are set to be destroyed. These include:
Hands vaccination clinic, responsible for thousands of life-saving vaccinations, including most recently 3,159 flu vaccinations, and over 1,000 measles vaccinations, which helped prevent a deadly outbreak.
Hummingbird Clinic, a medical clinic open on the weekends when MSF do not operate.
The Women & Children’s Centre, offering pastoral care and psychological support to vulnerable women, children, and unaccompanied youths. Currently Jules Ferry (the Government run women and children’s centre accommodating approx. 500) have not given us any assurances that they will change their former policy, and start to care for all unaccompanied minors, as the Women & Children’s Centre currently do.
Mental Health Centre, offering essential psychological support and referrals.
Distribution centres for aid: our current understanding is that the new container area will not be providing any distributed aid, such as clothes, shoes etc. Help Refugees & L’Auberge Des Migrants will be allowed to continue to distribute aid, but have to date not been given any proper details of replacement of distribution centres to allow us to continue this work.
Distribution points for food and community cooking facilities. Currently 1000 hot meals are provided daily by Refugee Kitchens and food supplies are given to over 6000 weekly by Calais Kitchens in order to prepare their own meals in community cooking facilities according to their own tastes. The containers provide no cooking facilities do not offer 3 meals a day.
Alongside these essential humanitarian services multiple community kitchens will also be destroyed (including Ashram where they currently serve thousands of meals a day) as well as the Good Chance Theatre. These spaces contribute to a sense of normality, community and psychological well-being for many of the camp residents.
During the course of a meeting with key associations on the ground on Monday, the sous-prefect, Xavier Czerwinski, told our representatives that there was no intention to destroy any of the schools, the church or the three mosques located in the area to be demolished. This was also an assurance made during the previous eviction/land clearance but it was not upheld. We hope that on this occasion that promise will be honoured.
We welcome any further information or communication from the authorities.