Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Loon-Plage 'Jungle' Bulldozed

The 'Jungle' at Loon-Plage near Dunkerque was bulldozed again yesterday morning. The camp had previously been dismantled by the authorities in May prior to the Calais No Border Camp and in December during the coldest period of last Winter. A large number of workers of the Dunkerque Port Authority (PAD) together with the police moved in early yesterday morning. Using a bulldozer, crane, tractors and a lorry they quickly destroyed the camp whilst the police rounded up and arrested 30 adults & 11 minors, of the 50 mainly Iraqis and Afghanis currently living there.

Fortunately volunteers from MRAP (the People's Anti-Racist and Pro-Friendship Movement), SALAM and other groups including Calais Migrant Solidarity managed to rescue some of the migrants' personal property, sleeping equipment and clothes. These will be returned to the migrants when they have inevitably been released after a day or so in detention and have made their way back to Dunkerque. In fact, the camp was already being rebuilt by some of the migrants that had managed to evade arrest and by local volunteers later that night.

The irony is that just over a week ago the the town council, in agreement with the port authorities, had been given permission to set up showers the very same migrants! This echoes what happened last December when on the 16th more than 40 police surrounded the Loon-Plage camp, then shelter to around 80 Afghan and Iraqis. After numerous arrests, the tents and shacks were razed by bulldozer by order of the Sub-Prefecture. Then, 2 weeks later on the
30th, Loon-Plage's mayor, after a week of pressure from the NGOs and the migrants themselves, without consulting the port, the local community, the Border Police or the Sub-Prefecture, sent a dozen municipal employees to erect a tent heated with gas and provided with meals paid by the municipality.

Meanwhile, the police have been trying to find local land owners in Angres to file complaints so they can officially take action to dismantle the recently rebuilt 'Jungle' there.

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