Night life in the ‘New Jungle’ of Calais


This is one of the entrances to the ‘New Jungle’. The boy in the wheelchair hurt himself trying to cross to the UK. Friends take turns to wheel him around the informal settlement.

By Amanda Nero

At night, the ‘New Jungle’, the informal migrant and refugee settlement in the port city of Calais, France, comes to life. Several improvised bars, restaurants and shops open after sunset. Its residents gather together to dance, play games, drink and eat. Some make bonfires and chat outside, others play football, and traditional music floats in the air.


A migrant acknowledges the truck driver who stopped to let him retrieve a ball that runs onto the busy highway. Football is a popular way to while away time and is even played under lights at night. 


The church is closed at night. Most of the worshipers are Eritreans and Ethiopians. A mass is held inside its plastic walls every Sunday. Faith is a very important part of many of those who now call this place their home, albeit a temporary one, as many of them hope.


Eritrean migrants and refugees playing cards and drinking beer in one of the bars in the ‘New Jungle’. Eritrean music plays in the background.


Eritrean migrants and refugees playing cards and drinking beer in one of the bars in the ‘New Jungle’. Eritrean music plays in the background.


Many small shops are open until late at night. They mostly sell beverages, cheap snacks and toiletries.


Shop selling fried chicken and some traditional food such as pakora (fried snack, found across South Asia) and samosa (fried or baked pastry with different fillings).


Bonfires provide focal points each night for the migrants and refugees in the ‘New Jungle’. They swap stories about journeys taken to reach their current location and contemplate journeys yet or soon to be taken.


 


One of several improvised dwellings built by the camp’s migrants and refugees. In the background is the wall and fence built to prevent them from getting to the highway, where they try to sneak onto trucks heading to the UK.


Migrants and refugees hanging around and buying cigarettes from one of the few shops in the informal settlement. Ten hand-made cigarettes cost 1 euro and are very popular and sell out very quickly.

Photos: © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015