“Les frontières tuent” – latest from Dom in Calais

Dom’s latest update from Calais is a tough read and we send him our love and support for the work he is doing. ‘Les frontières tuent’ roughly translates to ‘Borders Kill’

Following the deaths of two Kurdish men trying to reach the UK, a memorial was held on the 7thNovember in Calais. About 50 people gathered, with a mixture of international volunteers, refugees, and locals. After a short silence we listened to several impassioned speeches – all whilst being looked on by 6 police officers. Towards the end, the mayor’s right hand man appeared, and stood behind the police officers (the local political office in Calais is held by the right wing republican party). Towards the end of the speeches, the atmosphere turned more political, and before long a debate had broken out over the lack of support from the French government between the locals and the mayor’s representative. I was able to contribute little, as it turns out my French is rustier than I thought!

Elsewhere, preparations are being made for the coming winter, including storing sleeping bags and tents, whilst converting half a warehouse into a woodyard. As it is pretty much constantly raining, all the wood is permanently wet, leading many refugees to resort to plastic instead. Simply walking past the camps, you can smell the poisonous fumes. Last week, a man in a Calais camp started a small fire in his tent to stay warm. He died of carbon monoxide during the night.

Two days ago, when we arrived at our warehouse in the morning, we found a police van sitting outside, simply watching us. Previously, they have driven onto the private property and refused to leave. Evictions are happening on a near daily basis, whilst tents, tarps, blankets, and clothes are all regularly being taken. Volunteers try to observe such events but have been told to move by police, pretty much immediately in the last few days. With each day, the situation worsens.