On 24 January 2020, orders on motions for evictions, written only in French, were once again posted in the Dunes industrial zone in Calais.

Five days after the posting of the orders, and for the fifth time since 22 September 2019, a large-scale police operation took place to evict part of the area from six o’clock in the morning where hundreds of people are surviving in unsanitary camps. Only one site covered by one of the orders was evicted, the “Shell station”, which suggests that a new eviction of “Hedde Wood”, covered by the second order, will take place soon.

No document was communicated to the inhabitants prior to the operation to inform them in a language they understood of the date of the operation, the locations of the reception centres, and their accessibility in terms of transport. This is a legal requirement under the Charter for the operation of reception and orientation centres (CAO).

Twenty-one law enforcement vehicles were mobilised and the operation was “calm”. Only five coaches were chartered by the prefectural services to “shelter” one hundred and fifty people, leaving around forty people without any solutions, while knowing that all the basic necessities were confiscated by the police.

This operation, in violation of fundamental rights, costly in terms of public funds, will unsurprisingly be ineffective. It will only help to perpetuate this senseless cycle.

Presenting these operations as “sheltering operations”, the government’s action is in reality part of a securitarian logic, short-termist and degrading for the people concerned.

Stuck in a perimeter, escorted to buses whose destination they do not know, and sometimes threatened with detention when they do not want to be sent to the unknown, their consent is flouted.

It is clear that no one can be satisfied with the presence of unsanitary camps in which these people live, but it is important to remember that the public authorities are responsible for the existence of these unsanitary places, not their residents. The reason these settlements exist is because of European and French policies of non-reception. These policies are aimed solely at removing them from the public eye by forcing them to hole up in outlying areas, when they are simply seeking refuge on our territory.

Twenty-five years ago, the Constitutional Council enshrined as an objective of constitutional value the possibility for everyone to have decent housing. If this requirement were respected, no evictions would be necessary. Instead of tackling the problem at its roots, of tackling the precariousness of housing in Calais by resorting to dignified and sustainable solutions, the choice is made to turn our backs on them. It is this seriously discriminatory policy that we denounce.

We demand the regularisation of all undocumented migrants present on French territory, and the opening of safe and legal channels of movement for all. We denounce the Le Touquet agreements, the loopholes of the Dublin III regulation, which hinder the freedom of movement of displaced persons.

Signatory Organisations

Human Rights Observers
L’Auberge des Migrants