One day in Calais: The refugees hiding in the forest

April 17, 2017

Refugees emerge from the forest and dodge police brutality as a typical day in Calais becomes increasingly perilous.

Calais, France – Badessa* pushes through the trees and into a grubby forest clearing.

“My home,” mutters the 17-year-old from Ethiopia’s Oromia region, pointing to a set of crumbling steps leading to a darkened hole in the ground. He coughs a little and wipes his nose with the back of his hand.

“I don’t know how many stay here. Maybe 19, maybe more,” he says crouching in the pitch-black space barely a metre-and-a-half long. The floor is strewn with muddied blankets, damp clothes and food wrappers. The stench of rotting rice, tomatoes and cumin leaks from a pile of half-empty plastic containers. On the step sits a laminated sign ripped from the side of a lorry. It reads: “Our trucks don’t go to Great Britain.”

Badessa exits the hole and two more Oromo – brothers Negasu* and Feyissa*, aged 18 and 19 – appear from the treeline.