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Police with batons and teargas force migrants to flee Calais camp

Publié le 1er-12-2018

Source : The Guardian

Auteur : Mark Townsend

Extraits :

« Brutal methods to clear refugee camps in France have led to a rise in illegal Channel crossings, says a new report.

French police have stepped up attempts to drive out refugees from Calais, with camp evictions in the area running at a record 20 clearances a week, according to comprehensive new analysis. The data reveals that the French authorities carried out 78 separate camp clearances in October and 77 in September, a figure that has steadily increased over the year and is seven times higher than the number of Calais evictions being reported during the summer.


A detailed report to be released this week by the Calais-based organisation Human Rights Observers and French group L’Auberge des Migrants shows that between November 2017 and November 2018 French police carried out 393 separate camp evictions against refugees in the port area.

The repeated destruction of the camps around Calais has forced many of the refugees – largely Afghan, Eritrean or Sudanese men aged between 18 and 25 alongside a much smaller population of Iranians – to sleep without shelter in woods or beneath motorway bridges on the outskirts of Calais.

One Eritrean man, Hlebi, 22, nodded towards an open field beside the Avenue Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and said : “That is where I sleep with my friends. The police took our tent and when they come we run away because they have beaten us before.”

One of his friends, a 27-year-old called Ife, also from Asmara, and who has been trying to reach the UK for more than a year, said : “Most nights the police looking for us, sleeping is dangerous.” Another, Mehari, 21, visibly shaking in the stiff winter breeze, added : “They [the police] have slashed our tents many times ; why can’t they leave us in peace ?”

The report, to be released on Wednesday, also documents alleged levels of violence and intimidation by French police against refugees with almost 1,000 complaints collated by researchers during the 12 months to November. (...)

As temperatures fall, conditions for the refugees camped around Calais have, according to charities, never been worse, with many cases of hypothermia already reported. (...)

Further figures corroborate the misery now facing migrants, with local charities revealing that refugees were taken to a special medical unit at the city’s hospital 570 times in September alone. Injuries included broken bones allegedly caused by police batons, and the effects of teargas. Dozens of testimonies from migrants alleging police violence are chronicled in the report, including a number of minors who experienced physical violence and were targeted by “chemical agents” allegedly fired by officers. In total it reveals 972 complaints were made by refugees in Calais against police over the 12-month period, with 244 of these involving alleged violence involving batons or teargas.

Head added : “Other cases include chemical agents sprayed in the mouths of refugees, minors kicked in the head while they are lying on the floor. The incidents are a tiny fraction of what we suspect actually occur. Most incidents occur at night-time to avoid us being witnesses or when the victim is alone. People are becoming very isolated and very vulnerable, and we are seeing high levels of police violence.”

Paul Leclerc of L’Auberge des Migrants said that the present situation was far more grave than when the Calais refugee camp – then known as the Jungle – was destroyed in October 2016. “Conditions are much worse now,” he said. “The Jungle was a slum – we called it Bidonville – but it was still a ville [town], with its own community and support. Now people are spread out without shelter.

“Many do not manage to sleep more than four hours a night ; that in itself has severe psychological effects.” (...) »

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