Life in 'The Jungle:' A Photo Essay | Sojourners

Life in 'The Jungle:' A Photo Essay

Inside the Makeshift Refugee Camp in France

All images by Sean Hawkey and courtesy of the World Council of Churches.

The Jungle is an informal camp for refugees in Calais, France. It currently houses nearly 7,000 people who live under tarpaulins and in tents. They are fleeing war-torn areas, economic collapse, and climate change in countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Sudan, and Ethiopia. There is no drainage in the camp, so when it rains it is a mudbath, there are a few toilets and standpipes.

The journey to The Jungle camp has been dangerous and exhausting for most of them, and new arrivals have often worn out their shoes walking across Europe, some have lost so much weight they need a new size of clothing when they arrive. People arrive traumatized and afraid.

As the camp is illegal, few institutions can support it, for fear of legal repercussions, so the refugees depend on donations from individuals and networks. A huge network of self-organised volunteers has emerged across Europe, collecting food and clothes and money, shipping, sorting, distributing, providing services. There is no official support for this. Welcome packs with hygiene kits and fresh clothing are given to all new arrivals, as well as tents and sleeping bags, thousands of hot meals are provided from three huge kitchens every day, and medical services are provided by volunteer medics and nurses.

Police brutality against the refugees is common, hundreds of injuries are attended to each day. Twenty-four of the refugees died attempting to get to the UK from Calais last year.

Here are just a few of their stories, as well as those working to improve their day-to-day conditions.


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