"Europe is good. But this is scheiße..." - Calais Jungle

28 images Created 19 Oct 2021

(Buzzfeed News - 2016)

“Europe is good. But this is “scheisse” [german: shit],” says Mohammed, while he wanders through a recently evicted area that formerly held his housing in the informal refugee camp in Calais, France. He is one of the many refugees surprised by the unexpectedly high amount of aggression and violence regularly perpetrated by police. A look on the ground gives a first idea of what he is talking about: Tear- and CS-gas canisters, Shotgun shells, rubber bullets. The sandy ground of Calais’ Jungle is littered with evidence of police activity.

Security around the camp, the Eurotunnel and the port of Calais were further tightened after a new deal between the UK and France about measures was brokered in August 2015. In addition to the already pledged funding announced earlier that year including a 9 million Euro payment for building razor-wired security fences, the new deal declared the Britain’s further monetary support for France’s efforts to prevent the illegal flow of refugees to the UK. The latest deal consists of an annual payment of 5M Euros over two years in order to increase police presence, deploy additional freight vehicle search teams as well as to expand security by building additional fencing and installing new detection technology and surveillance.

Contrary to a police statement by the spokesman of the Calais prefecture, Steve Barbet, saying that police “do not use teargas without a good reason and use of teargas has to be authorized and it is only authorized when it is necessary.[…] It is not in our interest to use teargas unless it’s absolutely necessary to restore public order, and it is never used in the camp itself,” refugees and volunteers report frequent and uncontrolled use of teargas and other less-lethal-weapons around as well as inside the camp. According to Dominique Bernard, project-coordinator for the medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Calais, “there is an increasing amount of injuries caused by police. The use of tear gas and rubber bullets is a big problem, especially inside the camp. People get hit everywhere on the body.” Having worked in different hot spots around the world including the DRC, CAR, Haiti, Chad, and Ethiopia, Bernard says the humanitarian situation for refugees in Calais isn’t any different “The climate is different, here it rains… everything else is pretty much the same.”

As of March 2016, over 6500 people are believed to be living in the “jungle” of Calais. For most of the inhabitants, life in the camp is a constant state of uncertainty as they are dependent on the mercy of French authorities. On the 25th of February, a French court approved the eviction of large parts of the camp. About two-thirds of the camp’s expanse was declared to be cleared, meaning the loss of shelter for thousands of refugees.

Many inhabitants feel there is an anti-migrant sentiment already established amongst police and report of repetitive extrajudicial violence they encounter.
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