On early November 2015, 3500 migrants were living in the camp known as "the Jungle" located in Calais in the northern part of France. Sudanese, Afghan, Syrians, Iraqis and many more cultures from the Middle East all come as a hope to get over to England and obtain a proper life. Walking 6 hours a night along the train tracks to attempt to get inside the Eurotunnel by sneaking inside lorries, jumping into, under or hiding inside trains, this dark journey can be highly dangerous. This camp is where these migrants go back to during the day, it has become their temporary home. Beyond this dilapidated state of living, a real sense of community can still be felt between individuals.
As of this past December 2015, a little over two months after a first visit to Calais, the winter have settled in and the jungle has expanded by doubling its size of it’s population to 6,000. Not only men but women & children, all living in the mud under tents or temporary shelters. New restaurants and food shops made out wood, plastic and covers have bloomed but a sense of hope seems to have disappeared since last time. On top of the highway, fireworks goes up in the evening sky, a light of hope which only lasts for a brief second turning into unbearable smoke. Tear gas has become a daily method used by the CRS to restrain the young migrants from accessing the highway.
In two months time, quit a few things have changed in the Calais jungle. Wooden shacks are being replaced by containers, the main entrance has been cleared up to 100 meters back by bulldozers and the south part of the jungle is being threatened to be demolished. As a referendum was placed by volunteers and activists to avoid such drastic measures, many migrants wait anxiously with greater uncertainty about their future and their dream to reach England seems to disappear. The south part of the jungle camp population is still around 3455, the containers can take up to 1500 people and as of today, only accommodations for 1556 migrants from the jungle are available all around France. Unfortunately, this leaves a large number of migrants without any other options on where to go.
The south part of the Jungle Camp was forcefully evacuated by the French authority in late February/early March 2016. While many left the jungle with having no where else to go, the majority of migrant and refugee families had to relocate in the north part of the camp. Some checked into the containers that were recently built over the winter of 2015 and applied for asylum in France. Although while having space available for up to 1500 people many are left with having to relocate outside of it. As of May 2016, including the number of people in the containers; there are still 5000 migrants living in the northern part. Despite the effort of the authority clearing up the biggest part of the camp, many individuals and families who were moved around continue to wait in limbo. While many are still hoping to reach England, just a few can afford the 10000 euros smuggling fee to cross over England illegally. Children living inside trailer homes occupy their day by playing the sandy dunes and learning French with the volunteers.
Ibrahim Mubarak born in 1982 from Soudan died during the last week of July after being hit by a lorry on the Calais highway. Many of his friends & others from the jungle camp buried him on Wednesday August 4th 2016 in the north cemetery of Calais. There has been 15 death like this one in Calais since the beginning of 2016. British people were called upon to mobilise against plans to build a wall alongside a main road in Calais, intended to minimise disruptions to drivers supposedly caused by migrants. The French local authorities are planning to kickstart the building works in August, which apparently the British tax-payers will be financing. the so-called pro and anti-migrants were in agreement: this wall will be useless! one of the members of the 'Calaisiens en Colere' group ('Angry Calais Locals') called for borders to be open.
A few tooth-brushes, shoes, books remaining in the polluted dirt. The containers are still there which were built only a year ago to keep 1500 migrants warm. Hard to believe up to 6000 migrants lived in this so called Jungle between hope and despair. The strong smell of chemicals from old factories is accentuated without being covered by the sent of wood fire many used to make to keep warm. Brown stains in the dirt shows how they all lived in toxic waste. Yet, these horrible conditions brought people together in the hope for a better life. Hope for a life liberated from borders, wars & corrupted politics which affects the life of many innocent people. After the evacuation of the Jungle during the last week of November this past year, most were dispatched all over France while waiting for their asylum request to be processed. Barely any sings of migrants remain in the center of the northern French city, besides the 60 graves that are permanently placed in the north cemetery. For those migrants who lost their lives while trying to reach England, without any documents required, they are now forever part of the French asylum ground. Where are the migrants of Calais today? Will anyone follow up on their lives? For the ones who managed to cross over illegally to England before the final evacuation, how is their integration & living situation today?