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No man’s Land

Calais - France (2016)

According to different sources, 3700 to 7000 people live in the Jungle at Calais. What name should we give them? Distressed men, women and children fleeing their country, victims of war, political pressures (…), the term “refugee” seems to be the most appropriate.
In April 2015, at Calais, the refugees were subject to massive expulsions in the six camps where they live. The authorities offered to put them up at an old dump, close to Jules Ferry daycare center, opened on 11 April 2015, which comprises of lodging for women and children, and provides certain services (daily meal, showers…).
Less than a year after their relocation, on the 1 March 2016, the expulsions and dismantling of the southern district begins… Few lodging solutions are proposed to the refugees.
The 2 and 3 March, nine Iranians sow their lips shut and begin a hunger strike to protest against the expulsions happening in the southern part of the Jungle… Nobody cares!
Shelters and homes are burnt down, some by the refugees themselves –desperate pride, choosing to burn them down rather than see them destroyed by bulldozers. The origins of some fires are dubious and arouse discord…
Most of the refugees are relocated in the northern part of the Jungle, where overpopulation is already rampant. Others go to Belgium, where they will attempt once more to reach the United Kingdom. Others, resigned, have gone on to Germany. Very few have asked for asylum in France, which they perceive to be the worst choice possible due to the way they are considered by the French authorities and a good part of public opinion.
This dismantling has resolved nothing –quite the contrary– the precariousness of the migrants has worsened.
The multiple initiatives undergone by the different associations and particulars to improve the situation, as welcome as they are, are unable to bring about solutions that are of the political domain: the problem will not be solved at Calais, but in London, Paris or Brussels.
This method –or lack of it– is not in conformity to article 14.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by France, which stipulates:
“Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”
Is not the French Government failing in its duties by not furnishing decent reception facilities?
The Sangatte Protocol (with its complementary protocol of February 2001) and the Touquet Accords (February 2003) have left the refugees in a dead end situation*
These refugees want to go to the United Kingdom often to join family members, always to live and find jobs. As it is, on the terms of the different accords, the United Kingdom is paying France to retain them on its soil. The Nation Human Rights Consultation (CNCDH) is under the belief that France is policing Britain’s migratory policy. The two governments seem to be playing a double-faced game.
France doesn’t expect these people to settle permanently on its soil, which could begin to explain its failure in the matter. It is well known that the refugees arriving in Europe by the Mediterranean have no desire to come to our country… due to its bad reputation! Concerning the “management policies” of the Calais refugees, could this be a voluntary stand point on behalf the French government?
The refugee situation is inacceptable and, once more, the heart of the problem resides at the core of political choices by the British and French governments.

*Furthermore the CNCDH has considered, on the 9 July, 2015 that: “…the United Kingdom will almost never be competent in handling asylum requests, all of the pre-established conditions determined by the aforesaid stipulations being in practise very difficult to unite. In consequence, the bilateral accords and administrative arrangements prevent the deposition of asylum requests in that country. The NHRC sees this as an infringement of the mere essence of the right to asylum. It is astonished that France has not removed the stipulations of the administrative arrangements that are incompatible with the dispositions of the Dublin III Regulation, and that the European Commission has not revealed these incompatibilities in accordance with article 36 of this regulation”

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Ilford Delta 400, 135 Roll Film '24x36' - Focal Length 35mm

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