Friday, March 26, 2010

France and Its Xenophobia

Migrants feel the chill as the French clamp down

'They don't treat us like humans,' says student from Gaza, as police try to make migrants disappear

Alexandra Topping in Calais
The Guardian, Thursday 25 March 2010

Migrants hoping to make it across the Channel to Britain are forced to sleep rough in Calais after police closed the 'jungle'. Photograph: Sean Smith

Minutes from the buzzing bars and bistros in the trendy Canal St Martin area in Paris, the scene could not have been more different.

Dozens of migrants gathered round open fires, some sat on old office furniture, others crouched. Nearby, in a fenced-off area under a bridge, half a dozen tents were surrounded by discarded food and plastic bags full of dirty clothes, like a miniature shantytown at the edge of the city of light.

The reason why many of them are here lies about 150 miles north of Paris, in Calais. A zero tolerance stance towards migrants has succeeded in reducing numbers in the port but has made life a misery for those who remain and pushed migrants to other places.

Last September bulldozers moved in to clear a makeshift migrant camp known as the "jungle" on the outskirts of Calais and since then police have dismantled any small makeshift settlements, confiscating blankets, sleeping bags and tents, according to charities.

Jean-Pierre Leclercq, president of the Salam charity, which distributes a daily hot meal to the migrants, estimated their number had been reduced to around 300, from approximately 1,200 before the jungle was to complete article

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