Jungle, part I

The population of the refugee camp in Calais has exceeded 10,000 according to estimates. The French leadership has made no secret about its plans to demolish the camp in the near future at the same time as the UK government is spending more money to border security in Northern France. Despite the spartan conditions the jungle offers often the only shelter to people seeking a refuge.

During the summer of 2016 there have been thousands of new-comers. The atmosphere in the camp can be described as a never-ending waiting. For those who decide to hand in their asylum applications in France, the process lasts several years. The majority of the residents, however, risk their lives in trying to get to the other side of the English Channel.

Many of the residents suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder, which causes further unrest in the camp.

The police responds to unrest by shooting teargas granades from the side of the motorway. The ones who are spotted whilst trying to get on lorries in the night time, are fired with rubbercoated bullets. The volunteer doctors at the first aid caravans treat the injured residents, whether it is caused by missed attempts to jump on lorries or the riot police’s disproportionate response.

The French state has for a long time practiced what is called the “policy of discouragement” – the aim of which is to send a clear message to third world countries. This why there are only a limited amount of places in the refugee centres, the asylum process can take up to several years, and it’s not easy to obtain a work permit.

Although the jungle of Calais has a dodgy reputation, many of the aid organisations advice unacomppanied minors there. After all it is a better place to live than the streets of Paris.


September 2016


Calais, France