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In a move that left home secretary Alan Johnson “delighted”, the long predicted clearance of the migrant camp in Calais (see SchNEWS 682, 684, 685) took place on Tuesday (22nd). Around 500 French riot police moved into the “jungle” at 7.30am, bulldozing tents and seizing the migrants.

At dawn that morning the remaining migrants of the camp had gathered around a fire where they waited for police with banners in English and Pastu, one proclaiming: “We need shelter and protection. We want asylum and peace. Jungle is our home”.

No Borders activists confronted the advancing police, at one stage using a length of rope to form a human shield around a group of frightened teens. The police cut the rope and rushed in, knocking the activists and migrants to the ground, resulting in the dramatic footage that graced the national press.

After the police had left, one activist described the scene: “The Afghan-Pashtun jungle has been completely razed - it’s like a road-building site.”

In total police arrested 278 migrants, 132 of them minors. Those of them that have been released have described how police took away their money, phones and clothes.

Although some have been sent as far away as Toulouse, a third of the migrants have already been returned to the streets of Calais. They now have no possessions, nothing to eat and nowhere to stay. No Borders activists are remaining in the area, with one saying “We’re busy trying to help people rebuild the camps - we’ve brought loads of tents and tarps over from the UK.”

Another described the situation: “[it] seems to be calming down now – with less and less police visible – but our work load has been ramped up because of the situation these people have been left in.

There are seven or eight other camps around Calais but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a move towards evicting them, which suggests that the whole thing was a P.R stunt

The situation in Calais, a short ferry hop away, remains one issue where British activists can make a real difference to a horrendous situation perpetuated by our government. One activist summed it up, saying “What we’re doing here makes a huge difference, when we’re there and shit happens, police back off a little, but because the journalists are interested in what we do and they can legally film the cops, it can calm the situation right down – we’re making it a story”.

There have been solidarity demos in Wales, Manchester, London and Brighton.

* For information on going to Calais ring (from UK) 00 33 63481071 or email

* For updates


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