What is 'the Jungle'?
The Jungle is a camp about three miles outside the French port town of Calais. There have been numerous small squats, slums and outdoor camps in Calais since 2002, but this new shanty town began developing in April this year, on a landfill site surrounding a day centre that provides advice and support for migrants.
The camp is not officially recognised by the French authorities, but has so far been tolerated, and the police have forced people living on the streets nearby to move into the main Jungle, giving it a semi-official status.There are other, less-prominent camps in northern France, including three smaller sites 30 miles away in Dunkirk.
Where did the term ‘Jungle’ come from? The word ‘Jungle’ was first used by the people living in the camp as away of trying to convey their dislike of the conditions.
How many people live there? According to latest estimates, the Jungle camp is home to around 4000 men and up to 100 women and children. An additional 300 women and children live in the nearby Jules Ferry centre.
What nationalities are they? On our trip we met people from Afghanistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq (and Kurdistan), Pakistan, South Sudan and Syria. Syrians currently make up around 10% of the population, but their numbers are expected to grow with time - there is a sizeable lag between people fleeing their country and arriving in northern France.
How long do people stay in the Jungle? The camp has a very transient population, with people coming and going all the time. A two- to three-month stay is common. We met one person who had been in the Jungle since it was established seven months ago.
What will happen next to the people living in the camp? There is a perception in the camp that Syrians have a better chance of being allowed to live to the UK or elsewhere in Europe, which has led to some animosity towards them. Germany has said that any Syrian refugee who reaches the country can claim asylum there, but the majority of the people we met would prefer to live in the UK. The UK government has said it will only offer asylum to 20,000 Syrian people, who will be chosen from the camps in countries bordering Syria.
What is the difference between a ‘migrant’ and a ‘refugee’? A migrant is a person who has chosen to leave their country. A refugee is someone who has been forced to leave for fear of persecution. During the current crisis the term ‘migrant’ has come to have negative connotations, but it is not necessarily intended in this way.