Photo Essay: Life in the Calais Jungle
Misha Somerville (born 1980) came to photography and filmmaking in a roundabout manner, previously working as a musician and musical instrument maker. After 15 years of being in the privileged position of working on his own ideas, introspection one day gave way as he turned to focus on the challenges others face in life. Through a series of projects focusing on diverse subjects – from medical programs, to protest movements – he has been exploring the craft of communicating the struggles people face, always aiming to build empathy with those who happen to be at the frontier of the world’s issues…
Misha is currently working on Memo’s masterclass program and has photographed South Sudan Independence, South Sudan (2011) Bor Dinka tribes people, South Sudan (2011), Chain of Hope medical program, Aswan, Egypt (2012), Typhoon Haiyan aftermath, Phillipines (2013), Euromaidan Protests, Kiev, Ukraine (2013-14), Calais Junge Evictions, Calais, France (2016). He visited the Calais jungle twice during the evictions in March 2016 and before the camp was shut down Oct 2016. Please see comments on each photo.
A view from the outside the camp. 26th feb
With hs hands tightly clasped, and speaking very quietly a Syrian man told me his mother was killed in a car crash and both him and his father were blind folded and abducted by Daesh (Isis). He escaped after ten days by running away from Daesh, but on returning home he found their house flattened. He consequently fled to Europe and knows nothing of his father or family. 27th Feb
A Syrian Girl cycles along a street in the Calais Jungle. Volunteer groups run art and theatre groups for children in the Jungle. 27th Feb
Charities and voluteer networks hand out food in the Jungle. 27th Feb
Legal assitance is provided to Jungle residents by volunteer Lawyers.
Residents play cards inside one of the afghan cafes in the Jungle. People say the most difficult thing about living in the Jungle is passing the time. Everyone dreams of having a job. 27 Feb
Afghani boy. His parents were kllled by the Taliban, and with no family still alive he left for Europe one year ago, when he was 15 years old. Many left Afghanistan on foot, walking through the mountains.
Kuwati men joke in their shelter in the Jungle. 26th Feb.
The area between the motorway and the camp was cleared by authoriities to act as a buffer zone as commercial goods trucks were being looted by residents of the camp. The Pakistani and Afghani communities use the flattened area for playing cricket. 27 Feb
Wire cutters, toothbrushes and mobile chargers -the only hardware which was available in the Jungle shops at this time. 26th feb..
Ouside a hairdressers a monster with its head selotaped on riding a boat with aden with used tear gas canisters. 25th Oct
An Afghani man looks out through a hole in his tent. The vast majority of Jungle residents are males of fighting age, who in many cases were forced to leave because they refused to fight in their home countries. 27th Feb
Riot police patrol the corden while demolition is taking place.
During the evictions of the camp’s southern end shelters are surrounded as residents are asked to leave by French authorities, initially gently but becoming more and more forceful.
A police chief with a french sash wrapped round him tries to make an announcement on a megaphone but can’t get it to work. 29th Feb
Demolition of the southern end of the camp starts. 29th Feb
Some press reports and the french authories later said that, particuarly during the demolition of the southern end of the camp, there was a tradition of residents setting fire to shelters as they were leaving them. On the ground, almost without exception the fires were started, as here, by tear gas canisters fired by the police, puncturing the rooves and hotboxing shelters before bursting into flames. 29th feb
Activists run to put out a fire. Much of the underlying support network for residents comes from volunteers and activitiists. 29th Feb
Residents take to the roofs of their shelter to prevent them being demolished. 29th Feb
Evictions by French authorities lead to a tense stand-off between residents and riot police. Here the police are seen through a tear gas haze across a street littered with cannisters they fired. 29th Feb
Calais Jungle Resident being treated for Tear Gas. 29th Feb
Protesters threw stones and Riot police fired tear gas, which in turn started more fires. 29th Feb
Riot police finish their shift and go home on the day demolition of the southern part of the Calais jungle started – 1st March.
A broken crutch, left behind after demolition of the Southern end of the camp. 29th Feb.
Resident of the Jungle, evicted, goes to pick up his belongings. 26th Feb
Muggings are common place within the camp – especially at night. 24th Oct
For many refugees their phone is their only communication to the outside world, friends, relations and any connection to the life they had. The French police often smash their phones if they are caught during an attempt to reach Britain. 27th Feb
On the last night of the Jungle some press reports reported it had been a night of violence with ‘huge flames’ in the camp. The French photojournalist Frederic Munsch were perhaps the only journalists to stay at the camp and only saw residents buring the contents of the sheters before leavng the following day. 25th Oct
Refugees wait to be moved to centres around france on the day the camp is demolished. 25 Oct
Refugees leaving the camp in buses make the victory sign. Few if any are unhappy to be leaving the squalid conditions of the camp behind them. 25th Oct