A former landfill site about 5 Km west of the town centre of Calais in northern France was an unlikely backdrop for one of the most famous migrant congregations in the world today.
The name jungle may conjure up idyllic visions of a beautiful, if slightly wild, natural setting where animals live in happy harmony with a few scattered human communities but the reality was far different.
The scene that awaits a visitor to the Calais jungle however is far from the jungles of Richard Attenborough depicted on the TV screens of the western world. The desperate plight of the thousands of migrants from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria and Pakistan who have reluctantly made this their home is very real. The fact that the people in the Calais Jungle represent a group lucky enough to have survived the treacherous and costly journey from their home nation is not a little ironic.
The population of this small patch of northern France ebbs and flows like the tides that separate the inhabitants from their intended destination. The aim for most of the people here is to land undetected in England where they can continue their struggle to survive in a country where they believe they can settle and prosper.
The situation the lucky few that have made it from their home to Calais is more desperate that ever. The threat of a mass eviction from the camp has been realised during October 2016. The journey of many months, many thousands of kilometres and across many cultures has culminated in a nervous wait to see where they end up after Calais, hoping that they may formally settle in the UK or France or return to their homeland once they can do so without fear of what awaits them there.
As terrible as the conditions were in the Calais camp it was HOME to approximately 10,000 people, the only home many have It contained makeshift shops, schools and churches and restaurants. It can only be described as heartless, the ‘evacuation’ or ‘dismantling’ of the camp where people were herded towards registration tents and transported to alternate holding locations. The camp was then burned to the ground.