They have been dispersed everywhere in the country, in groups of about 30. On October 24, 2016 (and the following days) dozens and dozens of coaches were sent to Calais to pick them up. Families and friends and nationalities stayed together as much as possible, but of course there were times when this was not possible. Maps were displayed to help people decide if they wanted to go south or to a coastline or to a mountain area. Naturally, to nearly all of them a map of France was totally meaningless and they had no idea where they were going. Some were sent to big cities and others went to small towns -- it all depended on the social services and the housing available in various places. Libération, the newspaper that I read, has had fascinating articles about a group that they followed from the first day to present. Their journalists got on the bus the very first day and rode with the migrants to their final destination. This particular bus was full of Sudanese and Iraqis and took them to Pau, in southwest France. Most of the 39 people are still in Pau although some of them were at the train station the very next morning. They speak French now instead of globish, and most of them now live on salaries rather than stipends, and more than half of the asylum requests have been accepted. Most of the others are pending, although there were a few rejections. The original group has moved out of the old social security rehabilitation centre where they were originally housed and into collective apartments at reduced rent. Over the year, other migrants have been sent from the Paris migrant centre in my neighbourhood to replace them. They receive language courses -- 100 hours or 200 hours depending on their level -- and also courses about French values and lifestyle. They have no desire to return to Calais, but they still have a major disappointment -- contact with the French is difficult and nobody wants to talk to them. But you don't have to be Sudanese to find that in France.
This group is probably one of the more successful, but basically that's how it's working all over France. Some villages were horrified at the beginning to find out that a group was being sent to them against their will, just because the government owned appropriate facilities for opening a centre there. They imagined all of the most horrible things that would happen -- being robbed, getting their throats cut, rape -- typical village reactions. However, it has been found that some of the best integration has taken place in villages, because villagers are curious and have more time to talk, and they easily provide agricultural work, and even if just 10 migrants regularly go to the village grocery store or boulangerie to buy things, that really helps the local commerce a lot.
After all of the bad press they have had, things are looking up.
I read what you wrote with awe. What a success story! I can imagine the cynicism with which this plan must have been met. It's incredible that it actually got put into action and that France was willing to follow through with so much practical help. The resilience and determination of the the asylum seekers is beyond admirable as well. This is just one of the most positive things I've read all year!
The biggest problem all this time has been to convince the migrants that the UK is not Eldorado. They are finally beginning to understand that with a little help from people like Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
What is so interesting to me is how the wide-eyed expectations of many of the migrants mirrors that of some of the waves of migrants who came to the US in the 19th & early 20th centuries. And your account of how they coped with the reality and began to fit into the new culture mirrors that history as well.
I imagine that other countries have similar migrant stories, but of course I'm more familiar with the US.
What does the flag painted on the ferry mean? Is it just a logo, or something national/political?
That is just the P&O logo. If that ferry were flying a flag, it would be the flag of Cyprus since the vessel is registered in Limassol. I am wondering if Brexit will create problems for EU ships serving the UK.