meanwhile in paris...

Sans Papiers's hunger-strike reaches 30th day at UNICEF

18.Apr.05 - 15 sans papiers of the 9th collective of Sans papiers in Paris have now been on hunger strike for 30 days !! In an occupation at the offices of the Unicef France. A decision was taken to occupy the Paris offices of UNICEF by the collective because of its silence in response in relation to the incarceration and expulsion of sans papiers children. The hunger strike was later decided upon in response to the accusation by the UNICEF that the Sans papiers were manipulating children in order to get attention focussed on their situation.

UPDATE (23.apr.05): The Paris 9th collective of sans papiers has been expelled on Tuesday 19th morning from the UNICEF Paris offices they occupied since March 5th.
12 of them are on hunger strike since March 17th. With this occupation, the 9th collective asked publicly the "humanitarian " association to protect families and children from being arrested and sometimes deported

They first went to the Bourse du Travail (Unions building) main building, then yesterday to an annex of the Bourse du Travail. Since last year they have occupied 2 times the Paris offices of the European Parliament, and have occupied last January for a week the Socialist Party offices in Seine Saint-Denis (they were expelled at the request of the socialists...)

The following is a translation taken from their website from the original occupation:

"Today ultra-repressive laws are lead against sans-papiers. The children who until now haven't been spared are now even more greatly threatened. More and more frequently the police arrest children, as well as the unborn children of pregnant women, as well as children from primary and secondary schools to put them in detention with their parents and finally to be expelled . The detention of children so they can be escorted out of the country ; while these are certainly legal and political problems they are above all human. It is Against the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by France. The conditions of life in these 'waiting zones' is also very disturbing . Foreign minors kept in waiting zones don't benefit at all from any specialised protection regime which ought to be implemented. (Interpretation problems and Inability to understand the procedures being applied. They are kept in inappopriate accomadation. Asylum claims are considered as manifestly unfounded. They are subjected to violence, abuse and moral abuse.
The presence of foreign children and their parents at UNICEF since the 4th of March is the expression of an unbearable situation. The rights of children are being ignored and we are here to denounce this . We demand that Unicef whose primary function is the defence of the rights of children take an official position so that our children will be protected from deportations and the parents given their papers.
We stay more than ever mobilise and determined in this struggle until there will be just satisfaction of demands, to be able to live in dignity."

Please take action wherever you are to condemn the silence of the UNICEF on the rights of refugee and migrant children and to show your solidarity for the bravery of the sans papiers who are in their 30th day of hungerstrike.

UPDATE (27.apr.05): Sans papiers suffer 42 Days of Hungerstrike and still in silence ??!!!

Unicef is the body charged with responsibility by the UN for the protection of the worlds children and yet it refuses to speak out when the children are daily being snatched from schools in France, Britain and across Europe find themselves growing up in detention centres and lager across Europe and then deported either with their families or without. In Britain babies are even being taken from the mothers of failed asylum seekers by the Social services.

How can we continue to trust in an organisation which is charged with responsibility to defend those most in need of protection but remains completely silent about such violations of children ?.While European governments individually and collectively continue to construct their factory/fortress and to steadily withdraw from the Human Rights conventions to protect refugees and their children .

When the 9th collective of sans-papiers decided to try to draw attention to the silence of Unicef in this matter by occupying their Paris offices . The response from Unicef was that they were manipulating children in order to get regularised. It was that response that lead them to take the radical step of a hungerstrike. Unicefs accusation was in spite of the fact that nearly all the sans-papiers on hunger-strike have children of their own who are in daily danger of being detained and expelled. The sans-papiers do demand regularisation, since they regard this as the only real protection from the dangers they face.

Now in their 42nd day on hunger-strike they are as committed as ever and we who support them are increasingly worried for their lives, it can only be a matter of days before a real tragedy. The stakes are so high for the sans papiers, and yet a statement from UNICEF seems cheap.

The 9th collective continue to hold actions almost daily trying to get media attention for their struggle. Unfortunately the media has not been kind in its coverage, this might be related to the fact that Unicef in France and elsewhere is regarded as a saintly organisation, beyond reproach much as the UNHCR.

The collusion of these institutions with the oppressive anti-immigrant positions of governments across Europe when they have the key responsibility for the human rights and protection of people, is a shock to those of us who had some faith in them.

The UNICEF and UNHCR ought to be holding Governments to account for their refusal to defend the rights of the vulnerable in our society . They ought to be condemning the refusal of governments to counterbalance pseudo-nationalist anti-immigrant media hysteria with any real education as to the realities of life outside Europe or the reasons for them and the countless benefits to our societies that migrants bring. They ought to be speaking out but where are they ?

for information in French on the hungerstikes 40th day see:

sans papiers occupation in paris - no quotas: legalisation!

Yesterday Wednesday the 13th of April, close to one hundred sans-papiers from Droits Devant !! and support group activists, such as bishop Jacques Gaillot and Professor Albert Jacquard, occupied the headquarters of the Federation Francaise du Batiment (F.F.B -French Federation of Construction).

This action follows several statements made by various political and corporate leaders concerning the implimentation of a quota system for immigrant labor.

This new interest for quotas is economic and demographic in order to compenste the population decline of France and the labor needs in several activity sectors.

As M. Baffy (head of the FFB, one of the main employers of sans-papiers) recently stated : "in certain sectors, we arenít able to meet our labor needs, the only solution is to turn to foreign workers".

The sans-papiers who occupied the FFB, as thousands of others, live and work in France under appalling conditions transforming them into slaves of the 3rd millenium.

Rather than promoting quotas that will generalize a "kleenex" immigration and fuel widespread social insecurity and poverty, what is urgently needed is the granting of a permanent work permit and the legalization of this hidden workforce which contributes to Franceís economic growth.