Between 2,500 and 5,000 migrants and refugees have lived in the Jungle, an informal camp on the outskirts of Calais, over the past two months. The vast majority of its inhabitants, living at France's closest point to Britain, hope to start new lives in the UK.
The migrants who live there have traversed distances of hundreds or thousands of miles over months or even years to reach Europe from some of the most benighted countries on earth: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria and others. Most have lost friends on the way and are now willing to risk their own lives in what they consider their last deadly gamble to reach Britain.
However, before they illegally cross into the UK on a lorry as it boards a ferry or aboard a Eurotunnel train, they wait for their chance in the Jungle. Some will stay only a matter of weeks before they cross, others will wait more than a year or try their luck elsewhere.
They live among the coarse bushes in borrowed tents on the dunes of Calais in a place that has no rules and no governing authority. It is not a refugee camp as such. Instead, it is a cluster of several hundred scattered dwellings maintained by charitable organisations, the people of Calais and the migrants themselves.
Within the Jungle, the migrants tend to be grouped by nationality and religion. The transitory hamlet of tents has seven mosques, one orthodox church and several restaurants and shops. These are some of the faces and brief stories of the inhabitants:
Name: Saeed Age: 22 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Rad Age: 30 Born: Kuwait
Name: Mahmoud Age: 14 Born: Syria
Name: Sikander Age: 42 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Stanikzai Age: 40 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Haroun Bubakr Age: 20 Born: Sudan, Darfur region
Name: Sabaun Age: 12 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Mikie Age: 26 Born: Sudan
Name: Basel Age: 43 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Mohammed Siddique Age: 15 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Ifraim Age: 27 Born: Eritrea
Name: Amar Age: 17 Born: Afghanistan
Name: Talal Age: 35 Born: Kuwait
Name: Masjid Age: 25 Born: Kuwait
Name: Mahmoud Akhnadi Age: 21 Born: Afghanistan
This article was first published
on August 7, 2015