Currently reading

Migrants in Calais Are Dying To Leave

Share

The Calais ‘jungle,’ a makeshift encampment housing thousands of migrants trying to make the journey from Northern France to the United Kingdom, sprang up around five years ago, at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis. And although authorities have attempted to crack down on smuggling groups and dislodge the encampment, migrants have continued to flock to the city unabated ever since.

This interview was originally published on December 5, 2021, in Lazo Magazine’s weekly newsletter. It’s a conversation between Lazo Magazine’s founder and Editor-In-Chief, Cristina Maza, and  Abdul Saboor, an Afghan photojournalist based in Calais, France.

At least 27 people died this week, making a desperate attempt to leave the port city and cross the English Channel.

This week, I had a quick chat with Abdul Saboor, an Afghan photojournalist based in Calais, about his journey to the city and why people want to leave it.

Cristina: Where are you from originally, and how long have you been in Calais?

Abdul: I’m from Afghanistan. I’ve been in Calais now for about three and a half years. I left Afghanistan because life was hard. I worked with the U.S. Army, and I was shot and injured a few times. Then the U.S. left the city where I was working. They all went home, and I was left on the ground there, so I decided it was time to leave.

Cristina: How did you travel to France from Afghanistan?

Abdul: Walking. I crossed borders on foot. It took me two years. I stayed in forests, mountains, refugee camps, ‘jungles,’ anywhere I could find. I passed through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. After that, I traveled to France and then Belgium and Spain. Eventually, I went back to France, and I have been here ever since. It was a very long, long trip.

Cristina: How did you support yourself during that time?

Abdul: When I was traveling, I did a little bit of photography. My family sent me a little bit of money for food.  Now I teach photography at a university one day a week, and I sell my photos.

Cristina: I know that there has been a recent uptick in the number of people trying to cross from Calais to the United Kingdom. Why is that happening now?

Abdul: Because the weather is bad. The camps are like hell. They are cold, windy, and rainy. They are so cold. People are finding the camps very difficult. They don’t have enough to eat. A lot of people made a quick decision to leave. Many people go with traffickers. Some people try to go alone, but some go with traffickers. It’s because they are in the camps, and they think, ‘what else can I do?’

Cristina: How much do the traffickers charge for their services?

Abdul: Different people charge different amounts. Some people charge €3,000,  some € 2,000, or some people say € 5,000.

Cristina: How many people do you estimate are in the camps now?

Abdul: I think there are maybe around 2,000 people. There are a lot of Kurds. There are people from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Mali, Eritrea, really everywhere.

Cristina: What is the relationship between the people in the camps and the French authorities?

Abdul: The police are harassing people. Police are trying to evict people. They cut their tents. They give them a very difficult time.

Cristina: Why do people want to go to the U.K. instead of staying in France?

Abdul: Most people going to the U.K. tried another European country first. I don’t want to go to the U.K. because I have asylum in France. They didn’t get asylum, so they decided to go to the U.K. once they were rejected.

You can find out more about Abdul and his work here.

// Keep reading

// Subscribe

// About Lazo Magazine

Lazo is a non-partisan, apolitical website that strives to shed light on underreported stories, people, and places.

// Support us

Want to support groundbreaking journalism and in-depth essays from around the world? Consider making a one-off or regular donation and become a patron of our work. 

// Related

Tanzania beach.
On the Dark Origins of Tanzania’s Spice Island
Zanzibar is a tropical oasis shaped by migration and multiculturalism.  A group of islands off...
symbol of U.S. soft power
What You Need To Know About American Soft Power in Serbia
In 2001, mere months before the infamous September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, the German...
A mother in Vietnam.
A New App Teaches Parents To Care for Babies
When Ngoc Nguyen was pregnant with her first child in 2016, a doctor monitored her and the baby. Nevertheless,...
unnamed-3
How the European Union Can Fight Corruption
I’m speaking with a 37-year-old Green Party member of the European Parliament, Daniel Freund. He...
Women in Ethiopia.
Women in Ethiopia are fighting hunger and child malnutrition
In the Gurage Zone of central Ethiopia, a new movement is emerging, orchestrated not by political leaders...
4713165014_06f6f481e6_c
The Roma Want Reparations Following Decades of Racism in Europe
Roma boys in Šutka, a neighborhood in North Macedonia’s capital Skopje. Šutka is known as the cultural...
Belarus_protests_in_Minsk_000067_(50521056683)
Meet the Hacktivists From Belarus Fighting for Democracy
By now, I imagine most of you know about the Cyber Partisans, a group of Belarussian hackers who recently...
Vietnamese_Worker_in_Ho_Chi_Minh_City_(38445289404)
Vietnamese Workers, Exploitation, and China’s Influence in Serbia
I’m speaking to Stefan Vladisavljev, an expert on Chinese influence in the Western Balkans at the Belgrade...
Shell-Pocked_Facade_-_Stepanakert_-_Nagorno-Karabakh_(19088632725)
How To Govern a Disputed Land: A Conversation About Nagorno Karabakh
A street scene in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, by Adam Jones. Once upon a time in London (really, it...
nick-night-qr3WJBNe_w4-unsplash-scaled-1
On Diversity, Gentrification, and Belonging in Athens’s New Hipster Neighborhood
The neighborhood of Kypseli is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. That’s partly thanks to...
Lazo-Russia-1
Rising populism leads to Russia victory in Slovakia election
Russia may have scored another victory in Europe. And it wasn’t in Ukraine.  On Saturday, April...
Berlin. Under a bridge.
Berlin: An Authentic View of Germany’s Capital
A group of friends went to Berlin for a long weekend in November. There are some trips that are just...