Several association leaders active with migrants in Calais have chosen not to attend a meeting with the prefectural authorities – the prefect of Pas-de-Calais Louis Le Franc and the sub-prefect of Calais Véronique Deprez-Boudier – organized in the evening of Friday, October 22. Instead, they chose to participate in a public tribute paid by around two hundred people to a young man who died the day before after having no doubt tried to get into a truck bound for England.
“Barely three weeks after Yasser’s death in similar circumstances, we, associations not mandated by the State, present alongside the exiled people, give back our will not to participate in the meeting in the sub-prefecture having participated in the public meeting takes place at the same time as this gathering for this deceased person ”, explains in a letter of association Utopia 56.
Supporters for exiled people therefore met at Richelieu Park at 6.30 p.m. to pay tribute in a circle of silence to this new victim, the 305e at the border since 1999, as they have always done for five years now. Making the scheduled meeting with the sub-prefect null and void.
“Lots of letters and we got nothing”
Thursday, however, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais Louis Le Franc had announced in a press release his decision “to activate the frequency of consultation meetings organized at the sub-prefecture of Calais”. A first measure far from satisfying the “non-mandated” associations (1) which considers that the dialogue has been null for months: “We played the game of these meetings for a long time, we wrote lots of letters and we did not “Nothing has been obtained”, deplores Juliette Delaplace, delegate of the Catholic Relief Service of the diocese of Arras.
Same story with other associations, some of which were no longer going to these meetings, such as Utopia 56, “even if we were to come back on Friday,” says Pauline Joyau, the association’s Calais coordinator. The associations demand that we stop deporting migrants during the winter break and that we stop confiscating their tents and personal belongings: “We must stop stealing their belongings, because it is indeed theft…” , continues Juliette Delaplace.
Thirteenth day of fasting
Prefect Louis Le Franc announced Thursday a decision to establish a “new protocol for the return of personal effects that migrants could lose during evacuation operations. “Because the” Ressourcerie “protocol set up by the State in 2018 does not satisfy the associations, which are forced to support exiled people themselves to recover, in the limited time slots, their belongings amassed in the middle of containers, when ‘they’ they find them.
→ Analysis: Migrants from the Channel crystallize the tensions between Paris and London
In 2020, according to Human Rights Observers, of the few people who had access to the Ressourcerie, 73% did not find their personal effects seized during the eviction operations.
For their part, three hunger strikers begin at the start of the weekend their 13e fasting day. “It’s a bit long but the support is so present that it’s fine,” said Anaïs Vogel. The online petition to support the recommendations of the strikers, and more broadly of the associations, has exceeded 20,000 signatories.
Demonstration in Paris
Under the hashtag #faimauxfrontieres, the new spearhead of this fight, activists are calling via social networks to join the strikers for a 24-hour or 48-hour fast from this Saturday noon. Adrien Cornec, will be with a dozen colleagues: this employee of Cèdre, Parisian branch of Secours Catholique, will publicly show his solidarity today Saturday at Place de la République in Paris from 2 pm to 6 pm “already fasting for 24 hours” , he explains, almost embarrassed by the hunger strike started on October 11 by the three volunteers from Calais.
One of the strikers, Father Philippe Demeestère, evokes a possible location for the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin. Would it make it possible, if necessary, to renew the dialogue? “In any case, if he comes, I think it is not to inaugurate the chrysanthemums”, underlines Father Philippe Demeestère.
→ READ Isabelle de Gaulmyn’s chronicle: In Calais, when a small church reminds the state of fraternity