One hundred and ninety-five testimonies were presented to the Administrative Court of Lille by migrants, volunteers and others passing by, about the shops and restaurants of the Jungle, following the application by the Prefecture to destroy them (see here, here and here). Often short texts, images of everyday life in the slum. A number that shows their importance in the life of it.
Here is one of the 195 testimonies, from a volunteer:
“I’ve noticed that stores were already created in the past in other remote camps downtown and lasted long enough to organize, sometimes teahouses or restaurants. This was the case in the Afghan camp in 2009, or the Tioxide and Wood Dubrûles camps in 2015, before they were evacuated and residents gathered on the current site.
There, shops and restaurants have been created since the beginning, in April 2015. Their number has increased with the increase in population.
I went several times to restaurants in the southern part of the slum, now evicted, and in the northern part, with Europeans, volunteers, journalists, researchers and artists. We spoke over tea or coffee, or ate lunch there.
I noticed that the security and hygiene of every restaurant was maintained to the highest level possible, given the precarious conditions they exit within. They were also each full of their own personalities. As far as I could tell, they were connected to the countries of origin of the people working in and frequenting each of them, bringing some continuity in the lives of people who had been driven from their homes. That said, they were frequented by Jungle residents of many national origins, including Europeans, who would gather to chat, hang out, enjoy a hot drink, or to recharge their phones. Almost all did not serve alcohol. I found the food generally excellent.
I spent part of New Years’ Eve 2015-16 in a bar in the southern part of the Jungle with European and Syrian friends, before we went to visit friends from Sudan.
The people that I’ve met who worked in shops or restaurants had already spent long periods of time in Calais. It was for them a way to have a business and a small income without working for smugglers.
I most-regularly frequented a restaurant where a friend who is no longer in Calais worked. I also ate there several times with European friends. The food was very good and we always had a warm welcome.
The disappearance of these places will deeply affect the many communities of the Jungle and will increase instability and insecurity in the slum.”