All are in shock. In Calais, migrants and volunteers ask themselves a lot of questions after the death of 27 people Wednesday afternoon in the English Channel, off the city. Since the accesses to the ferries and to the tunnel are locked, the exiles try to reach Great Britain by sea, on frail rubber dinghies.
Even if they feel very lonely, the volunteers continue their solidarity action alongside migrants. Every morning, they come to offer them a hot drink, a sandwich, a banana, and above all, a listen. They have installed an electricity generator here to allow young Sudanese to recharge their smartphones.
Yesterday’s shipwreck is on everyone’s mind. “Some speak to us”, recount Anna, Franco-British volunteer at Secours Catholique. “They’re devastated. But guys generally keep their emotions to themselves. They don’t express how they feel. They’ve built a barrier around them, for months or years. They need it. to hold on. “
“They try by all means to leave with small boats”
On the Quai Auguste Delpierre, Myriam waits for customers behind her counter filled with mussels and cakes. She got used to seeing these shadows on the coast. “For some time, when we go down to do our mussel fishing, a shellfish gathering, we come across some in the dunes, on the beach. They try by all means to leave with small boats. As they are prevented from going up. in the trucks, they are trying to find solutions. They are in despair. “
The fate of those in exile divides the people of Calais. Myriam, who introduces himself as “peasant of the seas”, is sad and disgusted. “I would like to remind the French that we are all at the base of Africa. We must stop being so violent, so mean. We must be wary, that we make a reasoned migration policy, yes. But he do not do anything. Those responsible for today’s tragedy are not those who took the boats, they are the smugglers and all this migration policy that is leading nowhere. “
The ballet of hearses
Wednesday evening, the city of Calais was the scene of a sinister comings and goings of hearses until 11:30 p.m. They transported the 27 bodies, fished out in 13 ° C water. At this temperature, one loses consciousness after two hours. Five women and a little girl are among the victims.
In front of the port gates, Alexine, activist in a Calais association, is indignant: “All border deaths could be avoided. For someone who is in Sudan, for example, and wants to seek asylum in England, if there was a legal way to do so directly, there would be no not all these deaths, nor smugglers. People must be able to apply for asylum from their country of origin, without having to risk their lives to apply for asylum. The fact that there are so many checks here , barriers push them to take these risks. “
A shelter, for two weeks
The situation of exiled people becomes more complicated over time, and the volunteers become exhausted. Recently, three exiles started a hunger strike, remembers Anna. “A mediator came and promised an airlock, a temporary shelter so that they could then enter a center and apply for asylum. But the airlock was closed after two weeks. Suddenly, the 300 migrants who could to be accommodated ended up on the street. Already, there were only 300 places, whereas we have 1500 people here. It is ridiculous. “
This Thursday evening, volunteers, united citizens and exiled people meet at Richelieu Park in Calais for a new wake.