by Federico Guarino, Francesco Viceconte, Hugo Weber
In late October 2016, the largest and most long-lived bidonville in Europe was vacated and its huts destroyed by bulldozers. Its inhabitants were moved to various shelters scattered throughtout France and some of them were sent back to the country where the fingerprints had been taken on their arrival. Only a few have been granted asylum in England.The living conditions for the 8.000 people who lived in the Jungle, refugees mainly coming from the Middle East and the Sub-Saharan Africa, were unsustainable and the life in the camp was only possible due the hectic work of the volunteers and the informal economy born inside the same.
The first gatherings near Calais, precisely at Sangatte, date from 1999 to chase the dream of reaching England. For 17 years thousands of people have crossed lengthwise Europe - the majority of refugees landed in southern Italy - trying to reach the Eurotunnel, arriving at Dover, with the help of a smuggler, and build a new life in England. As usual, the reality is quite different from the dreams promised at the departure: arrive in the UK is not easy, the controls are many, fances run along each possible access to the motorway and powerful lights illuminate areas at risk during night. The smugglers are expensive and not very willing to take risks and England has no intention of helping to dispose of the problem. Rather, they're funding the construction of a new wall. That's why it was so easy to get stuck in the Jungle, where many people lived for two or three years, where they have opened bars, restaurants, dancerooms to earn some money to survive.
Today the Jungle is gone, but many believe that when Spring will come back other thousands of refugees will return to meet close to the Eurotunnel: their dream remains despite of the dismantling.