Calais 10-13th July
My fist time in Calais in two years – three since I was there properly, for long enough to get involved. Everything is the same, only different. Gone are all of the jungles, camps and squats I knew. I doubt there are any familiar faces in the new sleeping spaces. Few come from Afghanistan these days. Now the Sudanese community seem to make up the majority, along with other North Africans and a few people from Iran. Where there were once a couple of thousand undocumented people trying their luck each night, now the number has shrunk to around a hundred and fifty. Those who are more familiar with the current situation say this is due to people preferring different routes, as well as the sinking popularity of the UK since the economic downturn. I would have to stay longer myself to give an opinion. As it is I am there three nights, long enough to attend a demonstration with friends and family of Noureddin Mohammed, the well-loved, now deceased Sudanese man whose last moments are still unclear.
As far as I can follow the story, Noureddin was found dead in the canal in the early hours of Saturday 7th July 2012. The police initially claimed he jumped into the river himself, after allegedly stealing a mobile phone from a woman and running away. Later this changed to falling in after a fight, later to being pushed. They said nobody would be arrested in connection with the death, then claimed somebody had already been arrested. The police have refused an investigation; refused to let the family see the body; refused an autopsy. Understandably, the friends and family of Noureddin are deeply distressed and have since demonstrated every day, including the demonstration I attended on Wednesday 11th July.
For more information and updates see: https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/