Emmaus International

Appalled by the unhealthy inaction of the French government and the incapacity of its Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, to finally come up with answers that are adapted to the scope of the human catastrophe in Calais, the chair of Emmaus France has decided, after a meeting with the minister, to break off all dialogue with the government, on behalf of the whole Emmaus movement.

“The most important of all laws, in order to come to the aid of someone without shelter, without medical treatment and without bread is to break all the laws.”
Abbé Pierre

Whether it’s being done deliberately, by blindness or deceit, the government is refusing to make decisions that would ensure 3000 people, currently trapped in Calais in unacceptable conditions that bring shame on our country, regain their dignity and their basic rights.

The members of the Emmaus movement, in particular the communities in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, are daily standing shoulder to shoulder with the migrants, offering them their help and support. Meanwhile, along with our partner organisations, we’ve constantly warned and challenged the authorities about the massive disparity between the inadequate resources made available and those needed to cope with the reality of the situation.

What’s most shocking is to hear government representatives congratulating themselves on the creation of the Jules Ferry centre, when it’s only providing shelter for a handful of women and children, leaving thousands of other people sleeping rough in open-air camps.
With winter approaching, a disaster on a massive scale in Calais is looking likely.

Our priority is to continue fighting the political battle for the UK borders to be opened and for the renegotiation of the Touquet agreements. We condemn the minister’s position, which he set out firmly at the recent meeting, to persistently reject this solution, on the unfounded grounds of the pull effect.
We deeply regret the miserly and penny-pinching manner in which negotiations are taking place to receive the migrants with dignity, to provide them, at the very least, with shelter, food, medical treatment and social assistance.

We will never agree to “selecting” among those who are in distress and dying of hunger.

Emmaus is definitively at war with this punitive, criminal and destructive policy.

We do not wish to serve as an alibi in a disaster that has been cynically engineered at the highest level of the State and we denounce attempts to exploit voluntary organisations.

151006 decla-Cazeneuve2

The rise of extremist politics in our country makes it necessary, more than ever, to have the political courage to defend our values.

The movement has now entered into active resistance. The government will now have to take sole responsibility for the human consequences of its irresponsible policy.

Thierry Kuhn
Chair of Emmaus France

See the Declaration (in French)