A group of No Borders activists from South Wales recently returned to Northern France to take part in Calais Migrant Solidarity.

A serene scene, sitting at night a migrant’s encampment, sipping tea and watching the dark sea from the sand dunes.  Behind the gulls are wheeling against the orange sky. This peaceful snapshot hides the daily struggle, stranded up against the tall fences of the UK Border.  It’s very cold. It’s very exposed.  There’s no water and it’s a long walk from anywhere.

Through-out the winter, activists have continued working with and supporting migrants in Calais.  The local humanitarian organisations do astonishing work, providing regular food and support, three times a day, every day. Calais Migrant Solidarity directly supports this work and helps provide access to warm, dry clothes, and helps deal with minor injuries and access to health care.  In addition we’ve also been maintaining a permanent safe, practical space to support people and confronting the CRS on their nightly haunts.

Those people stranded in Calais face very real dangers, intense cold, police violence, a lack of care and isolation and hardened against other people, a situation which leads to frequent violent attacks.  But they are also ‘lucky’.  For each person who has made it as far as Northern France, there are hundreds, strung out along routes leading back to the war zones of Afghanistan and Darfur.  The routes come through Italy and Greece, through  grim detention centres, risk being drowned in the Mediterranean, or murdered by the Army in Turkey or Libya, or lost in mountains in Iran, or crossing deserts in Northern Africa.

The UK border in Calais is unwarranted and unjust, but sadly it is far from unique.  These borders exist throughout Fortress Europe, as the authorities attempt to close / protect their wealth from the outside.  The fences clearly state, we’ll take your labour and your resources, and you can’t join our world.

If you’re interested in coming over to do some solidarity work, get together with some mates and plan a few days over here. A trip over in February or March would be just as valuable as next week.