Voices #6 Mass Eviction as Hopes of Humanitarian Camp Dashed.
Mass Police Eviction - Dunkirk. Urgent Supplies Needed:
Phones & Smartphones with Chargers
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On the 19th September, the day after a plans for a new humanitarian camp had been rejected by the French Interior Minster, a huge eviction took place in the Dunkirk Jungle. Madeleine, a volunteer on the ground, gives an account :
It’s hard to believe, but sadly it’s true...
The mayor had asked for permission to open a new humanitarian camp. He had already announced he would install some sanitation in the Jungle, while the State was still against the reopening of a camp. Today, we witnessed what the State sees as a solution for the situation. Dear Mr Collomb,
Here’s a taste of what my day in the Dunkirk Jungle was like. Hope you’ll enjoy!
6h30: We get to the Jungle. On the parking lot next to the shopping mall near the entrance of the Jungle, we see 12 buses and about 20 police vans. It looks like a big eviction.
In the Jungle, everything is dark and quiet. Nobody is awake. We go into the woods where the families are sleeping and try to wake them. We want to save some things before the police get to the Jungle. We begin to write the names of the families on the tarps and sleeping bags and put them in our van.
We know the situation. The police come and destroy all the tents, sleeping bags, tarps and private belongings, and they force people to get on the buses. That’s what happened today. But there has never been an eviction as big as the one today. 7h20: The police come into the Jungle and ask us to leave. We try to hide as much as we can in our van, but in the end we can’t resist the police and leave the Jungle. We try to negotiate with the police, asking to keep at least our donations, but no policeman is willing to hear what we are saying. The clean-up teams have already put pepper spray over all the donations and throw them in a big container. We explain to them what is happening. Some of them didn’t know they had to clear a refugee camp. They had no idea there were families and children living here. I show them a picture of a little boy, sleeping on the ground, without a tent or a sleeping bag and ask them not to destroy these tents and sleeping bags. It’s useless. All we get are derogatory looks and pejorative comments. I have to contain myself as my anger increases, along with the grief. In 1945, we had enough people claiming they had no idea what happened! Where did humanity go, where did reason get lost over the years?
It all happens, as we had feared. Buses come out of the jungle taking the refugees to centres all over France. We had heard bad stories about these camps that are subsidised by the state. I had heard phrases like “We get one diaper for our baby per day and have to share one roll of toilet paper with six people over a week”. A 4 year-old boy, staying in one of these centres with his parents, had had back issues. He couldn’t properly walk because of them. He wasn’t allowed to see a doctor for weeks. The list of violations of human rights grew bigger and bigger the longer I talked to people in the Jungle.
Today we would witness again how human rights were violated. As we were not allowed to go into the Jungle as long as the police were there (why so, if what was going on was legal and right?!), we stayed in contact with the refugees via phone calls.
“They smashed people down.” “They are insulting us.”
That doesn’t sound like a peaceful way to take people to a safe shelter. 15h30: There are still buses coming out of the Jungle. Two girls wave at me from the bus. I know their family well and can’t get a grip of my feelings anymore. Everything that kept me going all day has vanished. As I think of every family’s story, I get so angry at the political situation and an unbelievable grief takes hold of me. I feel so helpless. There’s not only this family, that has been looking for a new home for years and has been fleeing from country to country with their children, there are also pregnant women with small children, women suffering from cancer, blind minors and paralysed men. They are completely helpless. Is that how Europe works? We already know the refugees will come back to the Jungle, preferring to sleep in the mud, than to sleep in centres under such conditions. The problem is: We have no sleeping bags, tarps or tents left. It gets colder and colder and I know many children will have to sleep in the cold, on the street. Good night, Mr Collomb! Is that really the solution you agreed on at the end of the meeting yesterday?