“Do you think we’re happy here? We’re dying like dogs!”: report on the illegal camp at the port of Nice which must be dismantled within 48 hours

A little before eleven o’clock on Tuesday morning. The police mass place Guynemer. Blazing sun. Municipal. National. Blue everywhere. And cameras, microphones, journalists. The mayor is coming.

Splitting the uniforms, a man climbs the stairs with an empty cottage cheese pot in his hand. “I’m going to fetch water from the fountain to wash myself”he apologizes as he climbs onto the platform.

Two months ago, Neixon, 26, left Cameroon where his life “was in danger”. Since then, he has been here: he points to the end of the dyke at the small tents placed on the concrete blocks. Four, five tents, maybe more. Canvas igloos facing the sea. Above all, facing poverty.

“We live like dogs without water, without anything”

Here live” about ten men mainly from South Africa”, explains David Nakache, president of the association All citizens. Men, says the activist“who have applied for asylum and who have nowhere to go: the reception centers for asylum seekers are full, the emergency accommodation too “.

Neixon shrugs: “We support, it’s hard, but we have no choice”.

At the entrance to the camp, sagging slippers, the remains of a wood fire, a meal, empty tin cans, a tired parasol, one or two half-gutted mattresses. And then, a forgotten cuddly toy and an OGC Nice flag that flutters in the bad winds.

A head pops up between two rocks. “Why are we going to talk to you? You know very well what is going on here. The government knows very well that we are dying”, exclaims a 28-year-old Guinean, starving body, eyes shining with anger. Six months he is there: “I had dreams of France, to work, to gain an apartment, but nobody reads our files, nobody believes our story”.

He gets annoyed when the France 3 camera gets too close: “I don’t want any images, I’m ashamed, ashamed to be there…” The journalists reassure, discuss, assured anonymity, just the word, important, essential to understand. He resumed: “I have rage. Look at the heat it is doing, look, do you think we are happy here? That we are here for fun? We live like dogs without water without anything… There is even had a pregnant wife and children here! We are human beings…”

Christian Estrosi is there. He treads the dike. And promises an expulsion within 48 hours. The squatters spin. “Where are we going? Elsewhere? But nothing will change”, slips Maki, French on the loose who squats this camp of misfortune. Two months that he asks for the RSA to get out of it: “and nothing. We were there far from people so as not to disturb, we disturb anyway, we are fired in front of the cameras…”

Everyone pissed off. The mayor of Nice returns to the quay of the port. And meets a bather who greets him: “Thank you! It had become unlivable, we found syringes everywhere, it was worse and worse. Our wives and our children no longer dared to come to bathe”.

In the distance, the swinging tents still under the burning breeze. A matter of time. In a few hours, there will be nothing left of the illegal camp on the harbor breakwater. Except the distress of its occupants scattered to the four winds.

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