Jungle Europa

artistic research

Informal refugee camps like the ‘Jungle’ in Calais and the transit camp in the no man’s land between Greece and Macedonia show the spatial consequences of European border and refugee policy. The camps arise in places where refugees concentrate as their travel and relocation opportunities are narrowed. The camps highlight a forced delay in the journey refugees undertake to reach their destination. In these places of increased friction and confrontation, where interests and desires collide, the otherwise invisible methods of the European control and surveillance mechanisms, as well the movements of refugees, become spatially visible.

In December 2015 I visited the Jungle to see and interpret for my self how Europe deals with the arrival of of hundreds of thousands of refugees. What follows is a photo reportage accompanied with maps that elaborate the spatial situation of the Jungle. All information was gathered at the camp and from google maps.

‘Jungle Europa’ is a metaphor for the space that Europe has become for refugees: an impenetrable space where uncertainty and risk are always present.

At the moment over 6000 people are living in the Jungle. There are different areas where people of the same ethnic background gather, or certain facilities are gathered, for example commercial activities.

When the evening falls it becomes lively in the main commercial street, people gather in the small restaurants and the shops are colourfully enlightened. At the viaduct, where trucks exit to the industrial area, people gather to challenge the police. Every night the same scene unfolds: people try to stop the trucks while the riot police tries to prevent them from doing so.

On February 25, 2016 the French Government got permission from the court in Lille to evict 1,000 migrants from the camp while the NGO Help Refugees estimated 3,455 refugees were actually living in the evicted area. During the evictions the southern side of the camp was demolished. There was some resistance; riot police used teargas and stones were thrown. At least 12 huts were set on fire.

In January 2016, a complex of 125 container housing units for 1500 people was opened by the French government to increase sanitary conditions in the area. But because registration and full hand scan are mandatory for migrants who want to live there, the units are mostly vacant, as migrants fear that registration will prevent them from living in the UK.