Since the beginning of 2021, weather conditions in Northern France have continued to deteriorate and people are sleeping in sub-zero temperatures. Despite the freezing temperatures, French authorities continue to evict people’s shelters, during which people’s tents, clothes and other personal belongings are dismantled, seized and confiscated. The evicted people are left without a roof over their heads and are forced to find increasingly marginal places to set up camp again. As people seek less visible areas to shelter in, they are often without regular access to water and electricity. People may also be unable to reach out to the services and support groups in the previous areas they lived in, including communities that they may have built relationships and friendships with. According to Human Rights Observers, there were almost 1000 police evictions in Northern France in 2020 - nearly 3 evictions per day.
Last month, a large eviction took place in the Calais city centre - following this eviction, the town hall installed bike racks and railings under the city bridges that are ‘designed to prevent people from resettling under the bridges. Places where people would usually go to attempt to escape poor weather conditions have now been essentially rendered unusable, with no alternatives provided.’ (Collective Aid). Our partner, Collective Aid, highlights that these racks serve as a stark reminder of the increasingly hostile and unwelcome environment for people sleeping rough in Calais.
In turn, this exemplifies the importance of the continued support and solidarity that our partners and their volunteers show to people affected by the constant evictions taking place across France. Our partners in Calais distribute essential items from hot meals and winter clothing to chopped firewood and sleeping bags.
Our partners in France are currently looking for medical professionals, qualified child care/youth workers and translators to join their teams. Especially welcome are Francophone volunteers as well as volunteers who are currently based in France. If you believe that you have the skillset that our partners would benefit from, check out the volunteer needs and apply.
Image credits: Abdul Saboor, Calais 2021