Every day illegal migrants from all over the world arrive in Calais, in northern France. If they are lucky, they will manage to sneak onto a truck heading to England by ferry. Once there, England's looser laws may allow them to find work and a decent life. At any time, there are between 300 and 500 of these migrants among the outskirts of Calais. Most of them have sacrificed their savings, left their wife and children behind, and took the risk of crossing half the world illegally only to find themselves caught in this dead end. The Government insists that they leave the country, yet French border authorities watch them so closely they have little chance of finding their way onto a boat or truck heading to England. Since the closing of the Sangatte Welcome Center, Afghanis, Iraqis and Eritreans sleep in wood or cardboard shelters around the city. At home they were school teachers, doctors, taxi drivers... But in Calais, all of them, whatever their past, profession or nationality, find themselves eating on the ground, fighting for food... I lived a few weeks with the illegal migrants, sharing their food, shelter and distress. We were consistently chased by the police in the bush where we were hiding. The only way to survive was to line up twice a day at a local NGO headquarters where some food and blankets were distributed.
Francois-Xavier De Ruydts is a photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. Originally from Belgium, “Fix” was drawn to travel and adventure at an early age. He has travelled to more than 40 countries, either on foot, in a canoe, or by bicycle. Most recently he completed a 24,000 km around-the-world trip by bike, crossing (among others) the Sahara desert, the Himalayas, and the high Andres plateau. It was through these journeys that he discovered his indefatigable passion for photography. Fix is originally a Geographer and had worked as an environmental consultant before he decided to pursue his passion for the earth an it's people through photography. He claims photography helps him find the beauty hidden in things, places and people. He is specialized in outdoors, adventure, sports, wildlife and social photography.