Baras - France
The irony of squatting in an abandoned employment office in the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet is not lost on a group of West Africans called the Baras collective (le collectif Baras). Members ended up in the French capital after fleeing Libya during the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi. In the wake of the outbreak of civil war they fled across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, eventually making their way to France. The name Baras is derived from the word Baara, meaning ‘work’ in Bambara, a language widely spoken in Mali: it represents the work they did as economic migrants in Libya, before becoming refugees in Europe.
In France they struggle to shed their status as sans-papiers. Without papers they are unable to work or receive state assistance. In September 2015, the owners of the former Pôle Emploi (employment office) were granted an eviction order against the 100-strong Baras collective, who had called the squat home for just over a year. Ever since, the collective has been in limbo; waiting, and doing what they can to stay active, promote their cause and avoid being made homeless once again.
Yacouba Camara at a Baras demonstration in front of the town hall of Bagnolet.
Tairu Di Sam on a tram to the Ghana vs. Mali match.
Michel Sidibe uses a beam for chin-ups.
Malian tea on a hot plate.
Drissa Samake and Oumar Mariko play dame.
Lamine Bakayoko smokes by the gate to the parking lot.
An online exchange with a friend back home in Mali.
Bamba Kone in the suburb of Montreuil; nicknamed the "second Malian town after Bamako".
Clothesline at the squat.
The following is an image taken during a short visit to Paris in January 2017, more than two years after the Baras collective first started squatting in the former employment office in Bagnolet.
Amadou Traore in the parking lot of the squat one morning.