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.
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.
In the summer of 2017 the Baras collective were evicted from their home of three years, the former employment office in Bagnolet.
As of November 2017 most of the Baras are living in a squat in the neighbouring suburb of Les Lilas where they have occupied a building once housing a commercial scale laundromat. They are fighting to have the power turned on. Some members have moved to other smaller squats.
The following images were taken in November 2017.