Sunday, 20 September 2009

Calais: Une Ville Occupée

In the run-up to the expected destruction of the main 'Jungle' zone on Tuesday morning, Calais is coming to resemble an occupied city by the hour. More and more military trucks have arrived, the CRS presence has increased and the streets are crawling with unmarked police cars (PAF - border police? BAC - Brigade Anti-Criminalité?). The Telegraph has even claimed that the army will use flame throwers. Its beginning to sound more like a re-enactment of the Sands of Iwo Jima rather than the Battle of Algiers in the Zones des Dunes!

And to top it all, Besson is expected in town tomorrow. Its obviously too good a photo opportunity to miss - first over the top come dawn. Or maybe he'll ride into the Pashtun 'Jungle' in the turret of a tank? And no doubt Calais own Iron Lady, Natacha Bouchart*, will be up there too, with her headscarf and tin hat à la Thatcher. She has already volunteered to mop-up the all the smaller 'Jungles', the squats in Calais itself, and has already claimed responsibility for the destruction of the Ethiopian squat (le squat Pagniez, where the arrested migrants have returned over the weekend after being released from detention, only to find all their possessions that they had left behind trashed by the CRS).

What ever happens in the next days, one thing is certain, this problem will not go away. Greece, as it has consistently done over the years, will not take any of the migrants that have passed through its territory (as the majority of the migrants in Calais most certainly have), Dublin II or no Dublin II. Which means either large-scale deportation flights or Green Cards all around. France may have deported 17,000 people in the first 7 months of the year, and its aim may be to deport 27,000 over the year as a whole, but they will find it difficult to return many of the migrants given that they come from war zones.

And inevitably the migrants will return, 'Jungles' will spring up elsewhere and the humanitarian associations in and around Calais will be left to pick up the pieces long after the media circus has left. Just as they were post Sangatte. Plus ça change...

* Bouchart has finally given examples of the "zone of lawlessness" - two attempted thefts!

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