02/29/2016 06:40 pm ET

Homes In Calais' Refugee Camp Reveal Stories, Hopes and Dreams

"When I am here I want my Calais home to be nice so it reminds me of my home in Sudan."

Mary Turner/Getty Images
Photojournalist Mary Turner took photos inside the homes of people living in the "Jungle," a makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France. This is the home of Naiyyir, who had lived in Calais for five months. Naiyyir had been a volunteer in Sudan until the government arrested her.

Photos taken inside the living spaces of migrants and refugees in the Calais "Jungle" show inhabitants' efforts to make themselves a home away from home.

The Jungle is a makeshift camp in northern France, near the tunnel connecting the country with the United Kingdom. The site has existed as a temporary accommodation for migrants and refugees since the early 2000s, but its population has swelled in the last several months as more and more people from around the world have arrived, hoping to settle in Europe. Many of the Jungle's approximately 4,000 inhabitants eventually want to reach the U.K. to work or join family.

The camp is in dire condition, with its shacks and tents vulnerable to the region's winter winds and rains. A group of U.K. researchers, supported by Doctors of the World and the Economic and Social Research Council, said in an October report that the camp had water sources containing E. coli and Coliform, overflowing toilets and a lack of debris collection.

Photos of the Jungle inhabitants' homes, taken last August by U.K.-based photojournalist Mary Turner, show their varied attempts to add comfort and familiarity to their lives -- through belongings such as a poster of a Paris Saint-Germain soccer player, an Arabic-French dictionary, playing cards, religious books and figurines, and stuffed animals.

"There are no people in these photographs, but their voices are everywhere," Turner wrote in a post introducing her photo series. "They are grubby and bleak because that is the reality of what life is like there." 

Mary Turner/Getty Images
The images are "grubby and bleak because that is the reality of what life is like there," Turner said. This photo was taken inside the home of Ahmad, who had lived in Calais for three months when the photo was taken.

On Monday morning, authorities in Calais began tearing down shelters in the southern section of the camp, as part of a plan to demolish half of the Jungle. Riot police released tear gas while activists, migrants and refugees protested, and shelters were set on fire.

Officials said between 800 and 1,000 people in the camp would be evicted or relocated, but local groups said the number is actually closer to 3,500.

Fabienne Buccio, prefect of the Pas-de-Calais department, recommended earlier this month that evictees either move to heated containers that the government had opened near the Jungle, or go to refugee reception centers in other areas of France.

Many refugees don't want to go to the government receptions centers because they believe going further away from the English Channel may slow down their journey to the U.K., Clare Moseley, founder of local nonprofit Care4Calais, told The WorldPost.

Some other Jungle inhabitants had also moved to the Grande-Synthe refugee camp, a swampy site in the nearby town of Dunkirk that in recent months mushroomed with people wanting to reach the U.K.

Take a look at Turner's photographs and the Jungle inhabitants' stories below.

  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    Edwin started living in Calais in June 2015. "I think some people, they think that we want to die in the sea because we are crazy, you know, to go to Europe," Edwin said. "You don't go into the sea to drown because life is good at home, or to feel less than a dog because life is good at home. You do it because at home there is nothing, only the war."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    An Arabic-French dictionary lies in the home of Ahmad. He had been living in Calais for six months when this photo was taken.
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    This is the home of Hasib, a refugee from Darfur whose sister lives in Liverpool, England. "In Darfur, 33 of my friends and family died ... England is a safe place," Hasib said.
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    Inside the home of Ibrahim, who moved to Calais in March. "I have a wife and daughter in Khartoum," the capital of Sudan, Ibrahim said. "I have not seen them for nearly one year, but I think of them every day."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    "I do not want to stay, I want to go to England," said Ali, who had lived in Calais for two months when this photo was taken. "But when I am here I want my Calais home to be nice so it reminds me of my home in Sudan."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    This is the home of Faaiz, who started living in the Jungle in June. "I do not want my face in the news, I don't want my family to think I am living like this," Faaiz said. "I just tell them, 'Oh, France is nice and I am going to England soon.'"
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    Inside the home of Osama, who arrived in the Jungle in July. "I do not mind if I die at the train and on the road," Osama said. "It is OK if it happens because I am trying to get to England."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    Inside the home of Mohammed, who had lived in Calais for just seven weeks when the photo was taken. "Sometimes eight people are sleeping in here," Mohammed said. "But no, it is easy, no problem, we all get by together."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    Inside the home of Marco, who had been in Calais for five and a half months. "I pray every day that God will get me to safety in England," Marco said. "I know he will, he has brought me this far."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    This is the kitchen of Othman, who had lived in Calais for a month at the time the photo was taken. "We can make you tea and coffee," Othman said. "At the moment we have just two cups but it is no problem."
  • Mary Turner/Getty Images
    "We made this house from blankets and wood and then covered it in plastic, to keep the rain out," said Sami, who had lived in Calais for two months when this photo was taken. "It rains often in France. I think it will rain often when I am in England too."

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