Migrants rely on the NGOs for their daily survival. Funded by the government, “La vie active” distributes drinking water every day, flowing from a dozen taps carried on a truck, placed just a few centimeters off the ground and accessible for only six hours a day. “I’m ashamed that I’m not able to do more for them,” whispers Juliette, a volunteer with “La vie active.” Regarding showers, which are installed a few kilometers away from the camp, they are available four days a week through a shuttle system. A group of NGOs — Refugee Community Kitchen, Utopia56, Auberge des migrants and Salam — are taking care of their daily sustenance.
After the hot meal, with their backpacks on, a small group of Ethiopian migrants heads toward the canal that runs through the city center. They kneel on its bank, and, Marseille soap in hand, they begin to scrub pants, sweatshirts and jackets. While one of them dunks a pair of jeans into the canal, a large gasoline slick floats on the surface of the polluted water.
“The attempts to climb onto trucks have decreased 3.5 times,” says the prefect, thanks to the growing number of security devices installed throughout the city. Hundreds of meters of fencing and barbed wire run through the streets. A kilometer-long, four-meter-tall wall, funded by London and costing €2.7 million, extends the grids already present along the ring road leading to the port. The parking lots at the entrance of the city and the suburbs, such as the Polley Secured Lorry Park, are replete with surveillance cameras and barbed wire, installed around the places where the trucks stop, waiting to take the long Eurotunnel which runs under the waters of the English Channel, linking Calais with Cheriton in Kent.
At night, under the cover of darkness, some Eritrean kids defy the security measures and try to climb in the back of a truck, in a clearing not far from the woods where they take shelter. Using the light from a mobile phone, they light up the large vehicle, searching for a gap in the metal body. They look like they just found one, when the driver’s flashlight shines on them from behind. His angry voice breaks the silence: “Go away, I’m calling the police,” he shouts in English, enough to make them flee. “We’ll try again until we get to London. Here we are treated like animals. After all, what have we got to lose?” says Tamir, a young Eritrean man, a little over 18, still out of breath and with his heart thumping in his chest.