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Jungle life tough for migrants from devastated nations

Published 30/07/2015

A view of shelters in the migrant camp known as the Jungle
A view of shelters in the migrant camp known as the Jungle

Life in the sprawling migrant shanty town known as the Jungle is hectic.

The scrubland on the edge of Calais hums during the day with the comings and goings of men from the world's most devastated nations, aid workers and journalists.

Makeshift tents providing the most basic shelter are being added to, as migrants dig themselves in.

Nine of them have died in the last month and they are aware that the chances of getting to the UK in one piece are slim.

A group of French volunteers from the Caritas France Catholic charity pull up in a white van to hand out planks of wood which refugees from Sudan load on to their backs.

One of the migrants, who gave his name as Ibrahim, piles them next to a cluster of tents where his friends sit smoking and chatting in the sun.

All he needs now is a plastic cover to start building his new home, Ibrahim explains shyly.

Different nationalities keep to themselves, with an Afghan flag flying high over one tent and an Ethiopian church offering some peace away from the crowds.

They come together when food is handed out in the afternoons or to charge their mobile phones at an electric generator.

Groups gather to wash themselves with water coming from a broken pipe or use the few portable loos available.

Others make the best of what the land offers, picking berries in the brambles before heading back with a handful to share.

Mahamed Ali, 26, who used to work as a secondary school teacher, explains that he came to the Jungle five days ago after fleeing war in Darfur, Sudan.

His refugee's story of dangerous journeys across land and sea is shared by many if not all in the Jungle.

After crossing the desert and paying 25 euros for a small boat in Libya, he braved the Mediterranean in a trip which he says left 300 migrants drowned before the survivors were taken to Italy.

From there he hid away in a train to Lille in France and now hopes to repeat the trick to make it to the UK.

Asked about the Jungle, he says: "Everything is dirty, we sleep on the floor, it's cold. It's a very hard life.

"But the people are good, we are all the same, no difficulty."

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