'The Jungle' camp in Calais, photo Paul Mattsson

‘The Jungle’ camp in Calais, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Lizzie Manning, Coventry Socialist Party

Three humanitarian activists started a hunger strike on 11 October in the hope of capturing the attention of the French state to highlight the conditions of those displaced people in Calais hoping to reach the UK.

Philippe Demeestere, Anaïs Vogel and Ludovic Holbein started the strike as a direct response to the brutal living conditions migrants have been forced to endure. The strike is also heavily motivated by the recent tragic deaths of two young asylum seekers attempting to cross the English Channel to the UK.

The daily harassment and humiliation in the Calais region is absolutely shocking. The police routinely dismantle camps, destroy migrants’ tents and confiscate their belongings, as well as using violence.

The French state is completely out of touch with local humanitarian associations regarding migration issues.

On 25 October, journalists asked French president Emmanuel Macron whether he had plans to meet with the three hunger strikers. He was seemingly unaware and made the pathetic claim that he will ‘go in the following weeks’, but furthered that he had no prior plan to visit before being directly asked.

Demeestere, Vogel and Holbein are campaigning for suspension of daily evictions and dismantling of camps during the winter months, and for the confiscation of tents and personal belongings to be stopped.

They are also asking for the creation of a reasoned citizens’ dialogue between public authorities and associations not mandated by the state, about the opening and location of distribution points for all goods necessary to maintain the health of those seeking refuge.