Calais: Immigrants desperate to reach UK

Calais: Immigrants desperate to reach UK

The BBC also has a video report on their site.


It has become a common sight for the people of Calais - men chasing lorries, pulling open the rear doors, and clambering inside, sometimes hanging precariously off the back, as the lorries swerve to shake off their unwanted cargo.

They are the migrants, who emerge each afternoon from makeshift camps to sit near busy road junctions and try their luck as trucks come by heading for the French port, and Britain.

That it happens in broad daylight as well as the dead of night is a sign of how brazen, and how desperate, these people have become.

But watching it happen can be risky too. We were chased off by men carrying big bits of wood as we tried to film. They were the traffickers who trade in the misery of many of their fellow countrymen.

"To get to Britain from here we people pay £500 ($700), or £700, and even £1,200 just to cross this line," says Zabir, a migrant from Afghanistan.

It is just the latest in a long line of payments to get to this far. Most have already spent thousands getting from their home countries to the point in northern France closest to Britain.

"People are compelled to do it," Zabir continues. "If someone tells me they will get me into the UK, I will pay him anything."

Zabir and his fellow Afghans live in a shanty town growing rapidly out of some scrubby woodland near the lorry parks where truckers from across Europe stop to fill up with fuel and rest before continuing to the UK.

Ad hoc international and ethnic boundaries have sprung up across the town of Calais. Afghans live in a desolate place known as "the Jungle", Iraqis have their own encampment not far away. East Africans live in a terrace of derelict buildings in the town centre.

The Jungle is a filthy, squalid camp with shacks made from old bits of wood, corrugated iron, plastic sheeting and blankets.

It is starting to look permanent though. This week the men there began work on building a lashed-together mosque.

Ethnic disputes break out frequently. One man was recently murdered here by someone from another tribe. His friends have built him a memorial made from old breeze blocks.

Zabir, an educated and articulate man, is deeply depressed. "Is this humanity? Is this civilisation?" he asks.

"We have a very bad life here my friend, very bad. For myself I do not think I am human any more. Here I am an animal."


Source: BBC (English)

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