‘Dismantling’ of the Jungle has begun. The Judge promised it would be done with compassion – slowly, respecting the dignity of those who have somehow, through hard work and patience over a long, cold, winter, managed to make a home in these wastelands near Calais. What we have had is tear gas, flashballs and fire.
I am no longer in the Jungle, and so I’m gathering my information from a combination of what little filters through to the British media, the French media, and the facebook updates of friends who are either volunteers of residents of the Jungle. Huge lines of police have been preventing volunteers from entering the area, and so my best source has been through the facebook group of the school I taught at – Ecole Laique du Chemin des Dunes. Zimako has been posting images of the destruction. In these pictures I recognise the caravan where I very briefly worked last year, homes of friends and what’s left of a community where many found small comforts – or at least survival – in the midst of a long and difficult journey.
Some have been trying to protect their homes by sitting on the roofs, but even though resistance is non-violent, police have still been making arrests. One arrest is pictured below – of a 16 year old boy, alone in Calais, who, from what I can tell from the facebook accounts I got this photo from, was simply occupying the home he’d built.
Those of you who are regular readers may be wondering what has happened to people I’ve mentioned here before. I’m afraid that, other than Zimako who shared these photos, I can’t tell you. Most likely they are now trying to find somewhere in the hell of the Dunkirk camp to stay, or they’ve decamped to the North of the Jungle whose days are also numbered. Some may have managed to make it into the few remaining containers. It’s possible that others have been transferred to centres where they will be fingerprinted and as a result probably forced to leave France.
When I hear of anything more concrete I’ll let you know. In the mean time, please share these images with family, friends, and political representatives of whatever region or nation you happen to be in. As I told my family in New Zealand, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for non-EU nations to take action in the name of human rights here. And please, if you’re inclined towards prayer, pray for mild conditions in the north of France. There will be many sleeping without shelter tonight.