Montroy: Despite the work of rapper Kalash, there are 120 women and children who are threatened with expulsion

Montreux (93) – Ibrahim, 12 months, plays in his blue trough. Laugh. His mother, Sharif, doused him with soap and poured water over his cold little body using a plastic bowl. The two smile at each other and laugh. But when Sharif looks away from his son, another, harder face appears. With 120 women and children, she has been living since May in a squat in Montreux. Rapper Clash and his wife Clara Kata, alerted by journalist and Entraide Montreuil member Capucine Légelle, funded the cleaning of the building. It wasn’t enough. Wednesday, June 8 at noon, three documents were placed on the front of this former Chinese restaurant. An order from the mayor for “urgent security”. Within 48 hours, they run the risk of being kicked out. Since then, the residents of Basseterre Street have been living in anguish.

“We have nowhere to go,” Sharif says as she tries to get her son’s clothes dressed. It’s not easy: the little one is struggling and still laughing. Like all the other women present here, she left her country. For Sharif, it was Guinea. Her parents died and she ended up living with her stepfather. “It offended me. It became more and more frequent.” Then she decided to leave with one of her friends, leaving behind her 11-year-old daughter. His voice breaks:

“We took the boat, and we sank. My girlfriend died in the water. »

Since I arrived in France, a little over a year ago, Alternates between street and specific solutions offered by 115. She finally found herself in front of the Montreux town hall. In the forecourt, the sheriff and the other women meet the Utopia Association which provides them with a tent every night in the Parc des Guilands. On Thursday, May 12th, she and the other women decided to temporarily settle in this abandoned restaurant ten years ago.

Sharif and his son Ibrahim have been living in this squat in Montreux since May. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

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On Wednesday, June 8, the mayor’s order for “Urgent Security” was published. 120 women and children in a squatting position are at risk of eviction and have lived for 48 hours in fear of returning to the streets. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

roof leaks

She has been living here for over a month. But Sharif is concerned. Her son suffers from asthma and squatting living conditions are not conducive to the situation. Mattresses are placed on the floor, one glued to the other. No shower or cooking facilities. “I have a sore throat, it hurts a lot,” Timite Aminata sighs in a low, broken voice. “What worries me. Everyone here is sick and everyone has a cold.”, adds the pregnant woman for several months. They are dozens of women who practice a round belly. “I’m tired, everyone is tired.” Women are also exposed to tension when Hawa, and her son Amado, who was born ten days before:

“I called 115, they gave me two days in one place, then two in another, but I can’t walk for two days here and two days there with a newborn!”

At the end of May, journalist and volunteer Capucine Légelle communicated on social networks Rapper Clash and his wife Clara Kata. The couple, affected by the situation, Funds company access to unpacking and squatting cleaning. Despite everything the place remains “dangerous”, Eve rules. The city council asserts that the intervention would have “aggravated the situation”. Which is based on an expert report commissioned by the Administrative Court. You find the situation unbearable. And in the “Urgent Security” decree affixed between two photo cards and posters for a meeting of solidarity and Postal code, written: “The ceiling of the old kitchen has partially collapsed as a result of a water leak (…), the wooden floor in the attic has collapsed and is overloaded” but also “Illegal occupation of buildings is at the root of illegal electrical connections that pose a great risk of electrocution and fire” , or even: ‘Standing sewage can pose a health hazard to the passengers.’ Ange, braided hair tied up, screams through the group of women huddled outside: ‘I, there is nothing more to frighten me, crossed Libya, the Mediterranean, spent Seven days in the water, with the sharks, it wasn’t dripping drywall or eviction that frightened me. »

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Hawa, Salima, Fatto, and her daughter, Qazi. Squatting women demand “rehousing” for each family. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

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Squat is a former Chinese restaurant that was abandoned about ten years ago. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

The group is accompanied by two lawyers. One of them, Professor Hanna Raggenbach, deplores StreetPress: “We support the masses in their appeal against the ordinance of the mayor which, in a wholly hypocritical manner, without any authority proposing solutions for re-housing, invokes the urgent need for security. While it will only bring a hundred women and children back onto the street, the youngest is 12 days old. She explained that Basseterre Street residents “realize that this place can only be temporary” but indicated that they wanted “to have a delay to have the opportunity to find solutions for rehousing”. »

For Mama Doukuri, the municipal councilor in charge of women’s rights who regularly comes to discuss with squat residents, City Council faces a dilemma “It’s hard to say whether people are safer inside or outside of the squat.” But she regrets that a solution was not proposed before a decision on expulsion was made. He points out that he has not heard of the potential proposals yet.

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Mattresses are placed on the floor, one glued to the other. No shower or cooking facilities. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

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Given the inconvenience, Basseterre Street residents “know that this place can only be temporary.” /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

After the expulsion, blur

“If you at least offer us accommodation, but now they’re just telling us, ‘We’ll kick you out.’ But where are we going? Where are we going? Salemata repeated, leaning against the front door, staring into space. “We are afraid, everyone is upset. We are afraid to go back to the streets.” In front of her is Mohamed and Ismail, 12 months old, running behind each other and playing kick ball. Cries of joy drowned out by the ambient bustle of coming and going in the dark room.

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Salimata is part of the “reference” trio of squats, along with Mary and Ange. Coming from Côte d’Ivoire, I arrived in France a year and eight months ago. She had no children and was left alone, After fleeing “sexual violence and forced marriage”. She crossed the desert on foot, before spending three days on a boat to reach Italy. In France, she was initially hosted by her nephew and his wife. But they broke up and “his wife kicked me out.” She found sanctuary with a friend who hosted her for several months “and then he told me to give him a baby but I didn’t want to, so he kicked me out, and I went back to the street,” she said, the look fixed and detached.

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The squat residents wrote a press release calling for the town hall ordinance to be rescinded “until a lasting solution is found for all.” “Not doing this is taking responsibility for what will happen to our children on the street. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

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The women’s group put together a cat online as well as a list of their needs. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

The concern is also present in Mahoua, who arrived in the region in 2019. I also ran away from a forced marriage. My husband died, they wanted to give me to my brother-in-law, I refused and I had to run away to come here. She applied for asylum, “but it didn’t work.” In front of her is her six-month-old daughter, Aminata, who is laughing and smiling in her pram. She had to leave her seven-year-old twin daughters and four-year-old son in Côte d’Ivoire with her brother. I managed to get the news from time to time. “Sometimes we make video calls,” she whispers, her eyes shining. Although she complains of headaches and her daughter coughs, Mahwa prefers to stay here than the uncertainty or the street. This is the opinion of Fatou, a native of Côte d’Ivoire who passed through the Moroccan Sahara and then “four days on the water” with her three-year-old daughter Kadi:

“We have to tell the city and county council that we are asking for their pardon, just because we don’t know anyone here, and we have nowhere to go… We have to help ourselves!”

For now, the women can count on the support of associations in Montreux, such as Les potes de la maraude, who provide them with food. They also receive assistance from residents who come to deliver their belongings or food., as Mary Helen, 69, who lives next door: “I find it inhuman to let people and children sleep on the floor, where mice are…”. She regrets the decision to evict and especially not to rehouse people: “I think we are in a social city, and this surprises me very much. Children cannot even go to school. It is not a stable place for them. We do not educate children on the streets. We ask to re-house every family ” Salemata adds.

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In the squat there are many children, the youngest of which is ten days old. /
Credits: Clara Monoyor

The eviction deadline ends at noon on Friday, June 10. The squat residents wrote a press release demanding that the ordinance be rescinded at City Hall. “We are asking the Montreux Municipal Council to pass a municipal resolution against the squatting eviction on Pasteur Street until a permanent solution is found for all squatting residents.” And type: “Not doing this is taking responsibility for what will happen to our children on the street.” A beautiful appeal was made on Friday, June 10 in Montreuil Town Hall by the women accompanied by other groups.

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On the side of City Hall (1), we send the ball back to the county by reminding that emergency accommodation is the prerogative of the state: The City of Montreux is asking the county to find decent shelter and resettlement solutions. »

(1) Montreux Town Hall also notes that it has “identified and reported on the most vulnerable persons in this squat. Indeed, some of them have a place in emergency housing.”

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