Photo Series: The Jungle Between France and England

Photographer Andrés Solla approaches the makeshift refugee camps of Calais with a compassionate eye.

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Photographer Andrés Solla approaches the makeshift refugee camps of Calais with a compassionate eye.

For many aslyum seekers, Calais is the last stop. They hope that the town, located in Northern France, will give them access to England through the Channel Tunnel to Dover.

When they get there, they discover strict police enforcement and the makeshift tent camps referred to as “the Jungle.” The area houses thousands of refugees fleeing violence from countries like Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Recently, the French government has cracked down on “the Jungle” and displacing its inhabitants. There’s pressure from the UK to be more vigilant about the situation that results in illegal immigration, trafficking gangs and migrant deaths.

In his series titled “Last Border,” Spanish photographer Andrés Solla chronicles his January 2016 trip to the Calais camps. “I conceive of ‘the Jungle’ as a kind of jail,” he says. “There are thousands of people stuck in Calais and none of them really want to stay. The hope of going further becomes as impossible as going back.”

Solla spent time with the camp’s residents. “Talking for hours in their tents sharing food and drinks is the best way to realize how warm and welcoming people there can be in spite of the bad treatment they get from a big part of the media and the tough conditions they live through, especially in winter.”

“I based my work on how all these conditions affect psychologically the people living in ‘the Jungle’ for several months. How is it to be so close but so far at the same time? Your name, your age and your past barely matter anymore. Despite of the amazing sense of community you can experience in ‘the Jungle,’ there is a certain loss of identity and a strong sense of shared isolation.”

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