Refugees in North of France, the struggle for the lives of the Invisible
On July 28, 1951, the Geneva Convention defined "refugee" status. There are approximately 1,500 refugees living in northern France, of various nationalities, Syrians, Iranians, Iraqi Kurds, Afghans, Sudanese and Ethiopians, who continue to take considerable risks to flee an inextricable, dangerous or fatal situation, in a quest for safety and peace. They are lone travellers or families, who see their makeshift camps tirelessly destroyed by the police, their tents and their essentials requisitioned and carried away. Having fled with everything they had, they now find themselves trapped without any means of basic sanitary facilities. Put on the bench of society without a real existence, excluded or feared by the local communities, these refugees inexorably try to continue to exist through small gestures, refusing to disappear.
Whether in Dunkirk, Calais or Caen, they arrived with hope and energy of reaching Europe. The colour of the sky is no longer the same as in Iraq or Syria, neither is the noise, but the mounds, barbed wire, exposed metal and derelict buildings look like a battlefield. They have since learned how to build a precarious shelter for themselves and their families from what they can find. The children have kept their innocence and their spontaneity of the present moment, and play again and again, despite the looks of sadness, amazement or weariness of another age.
The end of their journey has left them stranded here, in abandoned factories, abandoned buildings, on vacant lots or near an artificial lake, to survive in conditions similar to those encountered in the worst places in developing countries, yet we are only some 300 km from European capitals of London and Brussels and the French Capital, Paris, where the government continues to turn a blind eye to what is happening inside its borders.