[ 18. Jul 2009 ]

Meeting the Afghans in Calais

Passage (Jungle)

In Calais industrial area, along the 'petite rue du Pont Trouille', you will find a small piece of Afghanistan. About 400 Afghans Pachtoun settled there in 2009 and founded a mini-Kabul with its mosque made of plastic and its grocer shops made of palettes.


Originally from the South East of Afghanistan, the Pachtoun started to arrive in Europe when their country was invaded by NATO forces in 2001. Most of them will tell you about the madness of the Taliban, some will evoke the madness of the Americans, but only a few of them will tell you the main reason of their exile : misery or oppression. Because for most of them who are between 15 and 25 years old, they come to Europe to find a place to build their future and it does not really matter if it is in England or somewhere else. It is particularly the case or those who come from cities. Those who come from the countryside around Jalalabad really fled from the Taliban. In a bad English, they will probably tell you how they lost their relatives and some of them will show you their bruises which betray the blows they received from those they call 'charsi' or 'mamagan' (Islamic police of morals).

Among them there are also Tajiks from the North-East of Afghanistan or from Panshir, the home country of the late Chah Massoud who supported the Americans against the Taliban before he was assassinated by fake Belgian journalists (that is why you have to trust the media). There are also some immigrants from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan who share a few shelters at the entrance of the village. For all these groups, living together is nota problem because they are all Sunnis. But if you take the time to cross the bypass and walk through the copses next to the sea you will discover other Afghans who are themselves Hazaras. They are Persian Shiites from the central part of Afghanistan (Bamiyan) and are in a minority in Calais. They live even more precariously than the others. Their shelters are isolated from one another and they want to stay apart from the Pachtoun because they have been persecuted by the Sunni for long.

Whether they are Shiites or Sunni, Pachtoun or Hazara, their stories tell us about the same wounds, the same sufferings and the same hope: to find their country at peace one day. The NATO forces sadly failed to pacify the country as France failed to offer them the status of refugees that they should have.

Article from Nomade, the Calais Noborder camp magazine, Issue 2.