Advocacy

We at Calais Food Collective believe that it is not enough to fill the gaps left by state negligence in Calais, but that alongside our service we need to struggle against the politically motivated wilful ineptitude of French authorities to pressure them to take up their obligations towards displaced people living in Northern France.

 

The French state has the obligation to respect the human rights of all people, and local authorities in Northern France are obliged to put in place structures to guarantee the rights of people living in the area – from the right to water, to the right to freedom from torture, to the right to property, to the right to feed yourself in dignity. The authorities do not only refuse to put in place the necessary structures to guarantee these rights, but instead choose to undertake operations and put in place policies that actively disrespect these rights. So, since the end of January, Calais Food Collective has been working on projects directly advocating for the rights of displaced people living in Calais to be respected by the French authorities – this is what we call advocacy.

 

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The Town Hall of Calais is competent and obliged to provide adequate litter collection infrastructure for people living on the territory. The mayor of Calais refuses to do this, with 1 skip installed to serve a displaced population of over 1000 people, which is why the Collective has been undertaking regular litter pick operations around Calais. On the 22nd of February, the Calais Food Collective sent a letter, co-signed by a number of other organisations, to the mayor or Calais demanding that she install sufficient and appropriate litter collective services around the sites where displaced people are living in Calais. In March, after a month with no response from the mayor, we alerted the Direction Departmentale de la Cohesion Sociale and the sous-prefecture to the situation in order to put more political pressure on the Town Hall. With still no response, the advocacy team is looking into both political and legal actions to take the mayor head on in her dereliction of duty.

The Town Hall of Calais and Coquelles (a town bordering Calais) are both competent and obliged to provide sufficient and dignified access to water to anyone living on their territories, including to informal settlements and to people without official French papers. However, the mayors outright refuse to take up this obligation in their right-wing fight against displaced communities – this is why the Calais Food Collective has had to work for the past months to provide water bottles, jerrycans, and water tanks (two of which were stolen by police forces) to displaced communities living in the area.

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The Calais Food Collective has written a letter, co-signed by a number of major solidarity organisations in France and the Calais Legal Shelter, to demand that the mayor of Calais install facilities providing adequate access to water for displaced communities living on the border of Coquelles and Calais. In the meantime, we have been trying to get in contact with the mayor of Coquelles to request a meeting, but our requests have been ignored.

 

Going forward, the advocacy team will be working with the communities affected by this issue to organise an open meeting between displaced communities, associations, and local people from Calais as a means of fighting against the mayor’s evasion of the issue, demanding action from French authorities, and raising awareness among sympathetic local people.

 

Further into the future we will be alerting relevant French ministers and the Defenseur des Droits (the independent human rights watchdog in France) to the situation and asking them to use their influence to pressure the authorities in Calais and Northern France to take up their obligation to provide access to water. Meanwhile, talks are ongoing with legal advisors as to how and when we can take substantial legal action against these authorities for dereliction of their duties.

 

We are fighting against a massive enemy - violent and negligent authorities in France, funded and supported by racist, anti-immigration policies from the UK government - but we believe that we are obliged to work against this political situation with communicative, legal, and political actions to struggle to force the competent authorities to take up their obligations and respect the fundamental rights of all.