The Calais Jungle

The Calais 'Jungle’ — the term used to refer to the informal camps that first emerged in Calais in 2006 — has no fixed location. But it is most commonly associated with a former landfill site not far from the ferry port that in August 2016 was home to an estimated 10,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers stuck at mainland Europe's northern frontier.

As the main point of departure for sea and rail travel to Britain, Calais in northern France has become a ‘hotspot’ for those hoping to reach and build a new life in the United Kingdom. The city is home to France’s largest passenger port, and the fourth largest cargo port. But the signing of the Le Touquet agreement in 2003, which extended the 'juxtaposed controls' border arrangement between Britain and France, effectively pushed the British border to Calais (and the French border to Dover), making it almost impossible to cross and claim asylum by conventional means.

As the 'refugee crisis' in Europe gathered pace from 2014, thousands of those that had journeyed across the continent eventually arrived in Calais – just twenty-six miles from Dover, and the final stop before reaching their hoped-for destination.

The 'Jungle' was evicted and demolished in its entirety in October 2016. People continue to arrive in Calais in the hope of crossing the border to claim asylum in the United Kingdom.

A group of men walk between damaged tents and newly-constructed 'container' accommodation. 1500 beds were made available in converted shipping containers, but a place requires registering and providing a handprint for identification which many fear will jeopardise their asylum claim should they reach the UK.

Saifullah's tent. Saifullah told me that he had worked with NATO forces in Afghanistan. After the drawdown of US forces, he received threats because of his work and fled the country. He said he had filed an asylum claim with US authorities but at that time had not heard anything in response.

A teenager from Sudan eats breakfast after spending the night trying to 'run' the Eurostar trains headed to the UK.

In the wake of the 2015 Paris Attacks, a man walks through the camp with Banksy's 'Paris Peace' logo painted on a piece of cardboard. Many in the camp feared that they would face a backlash after the attacks and sought ways to show their solidarity with the victims.

An Iranian man, weak from hunger strike, is carried to his shelter after asylum seekers and volunteers held a demonstration in front of police as the demolition of part of the camp began.

A commentary from M. on the role of cameras within the "Jungle", excerpted from a larger interview.

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