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In Calais, mourning and anger after the shipwreck and the death of 27 migrants

A black veil is hung on the portal of the day-care center of the Secours Catholique in Calais, rue de Moscow, this Thursday, November 25. It has been floating in the wind since the day before, when the volunteers and employees of the association learned that at least 27 migrants had just lost their lives in the icy waters of the English Channel, off the city. “We are in mourning, it’s horrible”, loose Juliette Delaplace, in charge of mission on the spot for the humanitarian organization.

→ MAINTENANCE. Shipwreck of migrants in the English Channel: “In half an hour, you are likely to lose your life”

That very morning, some had attended the funeral of a young man in his twenties, who died in identical circumstances. “Emmanuel Macron says he does not want La Manche to become a cemetery, but it is already a cemetery, deplores the association manager. Since 1999, there have been 340 deaths on this border. French and British politicians are pursuing a criminal policy! “

An endless nightmare

As soon as the tragedy was announced, associative activists gathered in Calais to remind aloud that it was possible, according to them, to settle the migration issue other than by stretching kilometers of barbed wire. For example, by changing the asylum policy in Europe and creating legal access routes to the UK. “We are angry”, summarizes Mariam Guerey, permanent Catholic Help.

→ RECIT. Migrants in Calais, put names on the graves of the missing

This day care facilitator is a member of the “death group” created by associations to try to identify victims, contact families and organize funerals. Once again, the circle will mobilize. “There had already been four deaths since September”, she sighs. “It’s a nightmare that never ends”, adds Juliette Delaplace.

Calais residents concerned

The bodies of these 27 new dead were unloaded on the Quai Paul-Dévot, a stone’s throw from the city center, where the all-weather canoe is usually moored. Notre-Dame-du-Risban from the National Society for Rescue at Sea. On Wednesday, he was dispatched to come to the aid of the castaways. But the president of the Calais station, Bernard Barron, hardly has time to talk on the phone: “We are at sea, we are still in intervention”, he apologizes, while his men have been called for yet another rescue operation.

→ THE FACTS. Shipwreck of migrants in the Channel: the bishops of northern France express their indignation

At the end of the quay, fishermen pulled out their rods, as they do every day, under a gray sky. “What happened is sad, very sad”, comments one of them, who also fishes from a boat with a friend and has already crossed at sea one of these canoes overloaded with candidates for the dangerous crossing. He sometimes went with them for a while, to make sure everything was okay. “ We cannot remain insensitive, cis human ”, slips this Calaisien.

Next to the Saint-Pierre church where three people led a hunger strike in solidarity with the migrants, Alan and Sylvia, too, do not hide their “Sadness”. “ It’s a great misfortune, comments the thirty-something, native of Calais. This has been going on for over twenty years. It is a political problem that will not be resolved without an agreement between Brussels and London. “

Cross the border, no matter what

Omar, he does not say to himself ” sad “. “No, I’m hungry, he blurted out. I have nothing, no place to sleep, no food. ” Refugee in the station to find a little warmth there, this Somali arrived a month ago in Calais in the hope of continuing his journey to England. He learned on his phone that 27 people had died with the same goal in mind. But he remains ready to cross this border, no matter what.

In Calais, the hunger strike is over but the fight continues

“Arabs, Africans, we’re all here for the same thing, to go to the UK, adds one of his galley companions. Let us all get on a big boat and there will be no more problem. ” After a gathering in memory of the 27 deceased people, a religious ceremony was to be celebrated on Thursday, November 25, in the Saint-Pierre church in Calais.


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