Life, death and limbo in the Calais ‘Jungle’ – five years after its demolition

3 November 2021 Guardian: Life, death and limbo in the Calais ‘Jungle’ – five years after its demolition

The refugee camp became notorious in 2015, as 1 million people fled war and danger to come to Europe. Years after it was demolished, 2,000 migrants are still waiting there, at the centre of a political storm by Diane Taylor.

A small group of Ethiopian and Eritrean men stand shoeless and shivering in Calais. A few hours earlier, they almost drowned in the Channel, trying to cross to the UK. They got into difficulty when the motor on their boat failed. Their jeans are stiff and sodden with sand and seawater.

“We called the French coastguard to rescue us but they told us to call the English coastguard,” says one man. “Eventually, the French rescued us and brought us back to Calais.

“I studied political science at university in my country and I want to work and contribute in the UK. I do not know what I can do now. I can’t go back and I can’t go forward. There is a lot of racism in this situation. We need to find peace. If we have no peace we have no life.”

Five years ago this week, workers dressed in orange jumpsuits and white hard hats came with sledgehammers and diggers to demolish the refugee camp that had been dubbed “the Jungle” by the migrants living there in this city on the northern French coast. The squalid 1.5 sq mile (3.9 sq km) area of scrubland had become a symbol of Europe’s migration crisis after more than 1 million desperate people – many escaping the conflict in Syria – fled to Europe by sea during 2015, according to UNHCR data.

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