Entry Title: "Exile"
Name: Francois-Xavier De Ruydts , Canada
Category and Expertise: Photo Essay and Feature Story|Other_ED|Political, Non-Professional
Entry Description: 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.