News from Calais: Africa House Under Attack

Wednesday 24th November 2010: (from calais migrants solidarity) Africa House was raided again this morning at 8.45am. The police had informed Secours Catholique that they intended to raid, so by 8.30am a small crowd of charity workers and journalists (including some from the Nord Littoral newspaper) had formed to watch and take photographs. Four people were arrested for having no papers, including one CMS activist, but everybody else managed to get away after the whistles were blown. With the help of a JCB, council workers were successful in removing the barricades to Africa House and after an hours work left the entrance open for police to drive in without hindrance. Everyone arrested, including the CMS activist, was released several hours later after having their morning wasted in Coquelles detention centre.

At 2.00pm Africa House was visited again by the CRS who made no arrests as everyone was at food distrobution. PAF came just after the CRS left, blocking the entrance with a van and five officers to make sure nobody could get back inside. As everyone arrived back from lunch we were informed (by the ever growing police presence) that we would be let back inside soon.. After an hour of waiting in the cold and being filmed by police we were told that the council would be working inside the building for the next ten days from 8.00am til 5.00pm putting up fences. The notorious female PAF officer explained that they were to stop people “entering the private property of the neighbour”. CMS distributed hot tea and at just before 5.00pm the police and council workers withdrew leaving Africa House free to enter once more.

Africa House was descended upon yet again at just gone 9.00pm. Two vans of the new CRS unit (Unit 3) drove up and caught two Migrants. As the arrest van tried to get down the road to pick them up, four CMS activists got in the way chanting “Solidarité avec les Sans-Papiers”. Passers by stopped to watch as the police released the two apprehended men in Africa House, left the building and drove up the road to meet their detained arrest van. A small stand off occured as the activists refused to move and for a few minutes nobody was really sure what was going on. The police eventually got back in their van, reversed up the road and drove away. The four activists managed to get back to Africa House before the police and by that time everybody inside had had plenty of warning meaning no arrests were made.

11.00pm saw another raid on Africa House. Three vans of CRS Unit 3 split into two groups, some climbed in over the fence at the back and some drove up to the newly barricaded front gate. 6 arrests were made, including one injured man. A small scuffle broke out on the road when the police tried to wrestle a bike off a CMS activist. Another activist was hit round the head with a torch. There were smiles all round though when one officer fell into a drain and got human poo all over his shoes..

As the weather continues to worsen people are finding life in Calais increasingly more difficult and dangerous – it has now been confirmed that an Afghan man has been admitted to hospital with hypothermia.