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Temporary private spaces


Bruno Fert / MSF France

Over the past few months I have set out to meet the migrant population crossing the Mediterranean for Europe. I chose to photograph inside the shelters they set up during a single stage of their journey, in the « jungle » camps or reception centres. I have combined these photographs of private spaces with portraits of their inhabitants and their witness accounts. Our interior spaces protect us, but are also our private space: our home. They show what we have and what we are. In this way our interior space defines us and its contents reflect our identity as well as our aspirations. The critic Julien Verhaeghe wrote the following about Hortense Soichet’s photographs of interior spaces at the Goutte d’Or in Paris : « dwelling is an elementary gesture, fundamental behaviour contributing to making us who we are and to our relationship with others. So this photographic series reminds us that Dwelling is also Being, is also Living. » So dwelling is what we all have in common. Whether nomad or sedentary, we all dwell. Migrants’ temporary shelters reflect their personality, in the same way that our apartments and houses reflect us. It is from this common point that I want to lead the general public to identify themselves with and put themselves in someone else’s shoes by looking at where they live. And it is precisely so that the public can project themselves that I first photograph these places without their inhabitants. I have therefore chosen to speak about migrants by showing their dwellings : these shelters, however provisional, reflect their singularity. They portray their life at a difficult and important time in their story. What interests me is the way in which these men and women rebuild a home with the few objects they own : those that they keep with them for their entire journey in memory of their former life, others that they make to improve their daily life, transform their shelter and hold their distress at bay.


 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626899

Altaher, 29, originally from Sinar in Sudan His journey to Calais’ Jungle took him a year and a half. Altaher has now given up trying to reach England: he thinks it is too complicated to get over there. Friends told him about Nantes and Angers. He would like to settle there and get a job as a construction worker. His shelter was decorated by Abdallah, a fellow countryman who shares his shelter. He gave up on trying to get across the Channel a long time ago. Where does he want to go? He doesn’t know anymore. Abdallah paints, repaints and embellishes their hut night and day, in an almost mystical manner. Calais, France

Calais, France - 15/05/2016

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 15/06/2016

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Hadya 27, Hssan 3, Xudeda 27, Hssen 7, Hiba 8 . "What we have seen, we do not want anyone to see," says Xudela who fled the Sinjar region with his family just before the massacres Daesh committed on the Yezedi populations in northern Iraq. Hadya , Xudela and their three children hid overnight in a forest and arrived in the morning on the Kurdish territory. Hiba weeps because some of his classmates died. Others are in Germany, where scattered in other camps. The girl get enraged to remain locked in this tented camp without knowing what her future holds.

Katsikas, Greece - 28/06/2016

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Katsikas, Greee.

Katsikas, Greece - 08/07/2016

 

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Awesome, 43, originally from Pakistan He runs the best restaurant in the Calais Jungle, “The Three Idiots”, where various foreign volunteers eat alongside camp inhabitants. Awesome likes having Europeans in his establishment: a chat with each person and then a selfie that he will pin to the wall. His English is impeccable. He was a tourist guide in Peshawar in Pakistan until the tourists grew few and far between, and the threats against them became more serious. Awesome preferred to leave Pakistan. After a year and a half of traveling, he no longer wants to get to Great Britain, but dreams rather of opening a new “The Three Idiots” in Paris! Why “The Three Idiots”? Awesome set up the business with two of his friends. And they are all fans of the classic Bollywood film of the same name. Calais, France

Calais, France - 15/05/2016

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 15/05/2016

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Moussa, 65, born in Sudan On listening to him, you get the feeling that Moussa has led several lives in various countries. He was born in Sudan. He settled three months ago in the so-called “container” camp, the official camp that is next to the Calais Jungle. He recalls that he really thought he was going to die on the sinking boat, in the middle of the night in the Mediterranean with a hundred other migrants. He describes the arrival of the Italian coastguards as a second birth: “I saw life as I had when I came out of my mother’s stomach!” His countrymen chose him as the representative of the Sudanese community in the Jungle and he hopes that this responsibility will enable him to “change the mentality of Africans in the camp”, who he feels argue far too much. He would like to learn French and start over here. Calais, France

Calais, France - 16/06/2016

 

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 16/06/2016

 

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Abdelraouf, 40, born in Sudan in the Blue Nile State. His parents lived in a round house made of branches and thatch. He remembers bathing in the Nile, wheat fields and harvesting with his family. Abdelraouf remembers being spoilt as a child and misses the time when there were no barriers between houses or people. He left Sudan in 2013 because of the war, and went to Libya. But war broke out there too and he was forced to flee to Europe. He embarked on an inflatable dinghy and managed to get to the European coastline in two days. But his goal is Great Britain. When he got to Calais he thought that he could simply buy a train ticket to London. The other refugees explained that he had to hide in a truck. To start with, Abdelraouf refused. He found that too humiliating. But since then he has come to terms with it and he has tried nearly every day for more than a year to climb clandestinely onto a truck. He is now tired of hiding, tired if failing and tired of the aggression of some policemen. Calais, France

Calais, France - 13/06/2016

 

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 13/06/2016

 

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Ismael has the smile of those who have just arrived in Calais. This young, 18-year old man lived in Darfur in a village near Nyala. He worked in the fields of his family farm. The war forced Ismael onto the road to exile. He worked for 6 months in Libya to pay for the clandestine passage into Europe. He traveled through Italy, Germany and finally arrived in Calais where he has been living in the Jungle since October 2015. Ismael would like to stay in France to study. He believes there are many schools in Lille. He already likes this city, without actually really knowing it. He says that he could carry on studying there to learn a skill.

Calais, France - 14/06/2016

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 14/06/2016

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Hassan, 16, Zolykha, 22, Torgol, 50, Zynab, 40 and Abulfarel, 23. Zolykha’s parents are worried about their daughter as she refuses to wear the veil and has a mind of her own, even though they are only refugees. But Zolykha asserts her freedom. Zolykha is Afghan and was born in Iran where her family had fled war against the USSR. She wanted to travel to Europe to have more rights: the right to study, to drive or to dress in the way she wants. Torgol, her father, was used to this life as a refugee in Iraq, where he never had any rights. But for his children, the hopes for a better life and sold everything to come to Europe. In the tent camp in Katsikas, Zolykha doesn’t feel she is in the Europe she dreamt of yet. But if “Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran has also lived in a tent when he was a refugee, I can wait a bit ».

Katsikas, Greece - 29/06/2016

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Katsikas, Greece.

Katsikas, Greece - 08/07/2016

 

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Karwan, 31 and his sons, Baran, 4 and Nishan, 1 and a half. Karwan, his wife and their sons tried to cross the Mediterranean a first time but their boat broke down in the middle of the night in rough seas. The boat started to sink; Karwan kissed his wife and children as if for the last time. Everyone was screaming and crying on board. One of the passengers asked for hot water for his child’s bottle. The others replied it wouldn’t be needed as they were all going to die. But the man shouted that he didn’t want his child to die hungry. This got people talking and the atmosphere became less hysterical. It was at that moment that the coast guards came to their rescue.

France - 18/07/2016

 

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Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, France - 18/07/2016

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Abdallah, 24, originally from Nangarhâr, Afghanistan. Abdallah owned a grocery store in Nangarhâr, Afghanistan. So it was only natural for him to open a grocery store in the Calais Jungle. He has no desire to leave the camp. His business is going well and his friends are here. His youngest daughter was born in the camp. She is called Arzou, which means hope in Dari. Calais, France

Calais, France - 16/06/2016

 

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 16/07/2016

 

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Barham, 31, hairdresser, Iraqi Kurd. The one chair in Barham’s salon is never empty. He cuts roughly 25 people’s hair a day. But only five or six of them have enough money to pay him the 5-euro cost of a haircut. He also does traditional cheek threading to remove hair and French people come especially for that he says proudly. In town, the hair salons are beautiful but he feels they don’t know how to cut hair properly. Barham arrived four months ago. He opened his salon at the entrance of the Linière camp. But he would like to cut hair in Great Britain. Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 19/07/2016

 

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Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 19/07/2016

 

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Fouad, 26, originally from Derah in Syria. Fouad has strung a large Union Jack on the walls of his hut in the Calais Jungle. For him, Derah was “the most beautiful town in the world in the most beautiful country”. Fouad came to Calais a year ago and has tried to cross the Channel many times. He almost thought he had succeeded once! He had managed to hide in the trailer of a refrigerated truck with two of his friends. The three men spent the nine hours of the journey in the cold. When the driver finally stopped they jumped out of the truck and ran as fast as they could, only to realize that they had arrived… in Spain! Calais, France

Calais, France - 14/06/2016

 

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Calais, France

Calais, France - 14/06/2016

 

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Salima, 33 and Reza, 10 In Iran, Afghan refugees have to pay an annual tax to renew their visa. If they don’t have the means, the men can go and fight with Iranian troops in Syria (allies of Bachar El Assad’s regime). Salima is 33. She was an Afghan refugee in Iran with her husband and their two boys aged 10 and 12. Salima’s husband disappeared more than two years ago. She thinks he may have died in Syria because he wanted to sign up to fight to pay for their visa. Her 12-year old son left for Europe in the hopes of providing for his mother and younger brother. Salima hasn’t heard from her husband for two years and decided to join her son in Europe.

Katsikas, Greece - 29/06/2016

 

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Katsikas, Greece.

Katsikas, Greece - 08/07/2016

 

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Rebaz is 24 and when he listens to the hit single by the Iraqi Kurd singer, Ali Miran, he is homesick. “Don’t you miss Souleimaniye ? Don’t you want to come back? After all this time you won’t recognize your town… ». Rebaz left Souleimaniye and his parents when he was three. His requests for asylum were refused in Greece, then Belgium but he hopes he’ll be luckier in England. Last night he tried to cross. The first two checks went fine but they were found by police dogs at the third: “they know everything except our first names”. What advice would he have for friends wanting to try and come to Europe? Rebaz has had enough. But after 3 years traveling, he can’t give up.

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 15/07/2016

 

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Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 15/06/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626867

Ali, 18, born in Kuwait. Ali’s hut looks like a child’s bedroom. There is a puzzle on the wall showing a beautiful European home. Ali was born in Kuwait in a Bedouin family. He explains that Bedouins have no rights in Kuwait: not even Kuwaiti nationality. Ali has always lived in a tent and this hut is his first “house”. In Kuwait his tribe traveled by camel. In order to come to Europe, Ali overcame his fear and took a plane and a boat for the first time. He misses the desert and their sunsets. He nostalgically tells childhood memories; when he looked after sheep on horseback, or made sandmen in the desert after the rain. Ali confesses that he has a dream, “a small dream”: work for a couple of years in Great Britain to pay for his sick mother to take a pilgrimage to Mecca. Calais, France

Calais, France - 15/06/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626869

Calais, France

Calais, France - 15/06/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626879

Leal, 7, Yasmine, 26, Raïs, 18 months, Maya, 9 and Hamza, 5. Syrian. Maya complains. She says that she isn’t happy here and wants to join her father, that she would rather be in Homs where at least she has a home and wouldn’t be sleeping in a tent. Yasmine is 26 and has four children. Her husband had already been in Germany for 8 months when fighting got closer to her neighborhood in Homs in Syria. Yasmine sold their house and left for Europe with her four children. She seems happy to have reached Greece, even though she doesn’t know how or when her children will see their father again. Katsikas, Greece

Katsikas, Greece - 30/06/2016

 

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Katsikas, Greece

Katsikas, Greece - 08/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626893

Fares is 23. He is an affable and good-looking young man. He speaks English perfectly. He looks like a young European with his Nike t-shirt. Yet when Fares talks to me about his family, he naturally uses the word, tribe. Fares was born in Kuwait. He lived there with his parents and both sisters in a stone and wood house. He and his father built the roof with branches. Yet none of their family has Kuwaiti nationality, as the country has never recognized his tribe. They are therefore stateless. This is the reason why his father asked for political asylum in England in 2010. Fares, his sisters and mother went to live in Syria. He had a good job as a hotel manager. But war broke out and they had to flee Syria. They arrived in Grande-Synthe 11 months ago. They lived together in this hut and slept under these four blankets. Fares’ mother became ill so he helped her to England with both his sisters. Fares told me that he misses his childhood: sea and space. “Here the sea isn’t far but I never go as I am afraid of the police. In England I want to learn many languages to become an interpreter and help people understand each other”.

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 12/05/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626892

Grande-Synthe, Calais

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 12/05/2016

 

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Hamdan, Sudanese Hamdan is a deaf mute. Communication is difficult, even with his fellow countrymen. He usually uses a translation app on his mobile, but today he has run out of credit. He has a large French-Arabic dictionary. Hamdan chooses to draw a self-portrait in a notebook. Calais, France

Calais, France - 17/06/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626871

Calais, France

Calais, France - 17/06/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626880

Abas, 32, Melina, 1 month and Soad, 28, originally from Iraqi Kurdistan. Abas and Soad are Kurds. They fled the war in Iraq and hoped to reach Great Britain before the birth of Melina. But the couple fell on dishonest people smugglers who took all their savings and never got them across. For more than a year, Abas and Soad have been stuck in Grande-Synthe without any money, but despite this are trying to get across. Soad gave birth in Dunkirk and volunteer workers gave her a cradle. Abas hopes that with Brexit, the British government will allow migrants to cross the Channel. Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 15/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0628532

Grande-Synthe, Calais

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 15/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0626895

El Hatib, 68, shepherd in a village near Mosul in Iraq. The region that El Hatib lived in is now under Islamic State control. In 1974, he took part in an international shepherd contest organized in Iraq. He came second. The winner was an English shepherd. He thinks that Great Britain would be a good place to keep sheep. El Hatib has already managed to get the seven members of his family across the Channel. His wife even had “guaranteed” passage, a rate where the people smuggler ensures safe passage. Now El Hatib would also like to travel across the Channel as his daughter is waiting for him so she can get married. Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 15/07/2016

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Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, France - 17/07/2016

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Rebwar, 27, originally from Iraqi Kurdistan. Rebwar left Iraqi Kurdistan twelve years ago. He has had an ‘S’ tattooed on his arm; his mother, Sara’s, initial, who he hasn’t seen for 12 years. He’ll never lose this S, unlike the photos that he brought with him. Rebwar lived in Greece for 10 years and worked on construction sites there. The credit crunch forced him back on the road again. His new goal: Great Britain. He would like to open a restaurant there. But in the meantime, Rebwar makes kebabs in his small shop in the Linière camp where he has been living for 9 months. Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 18/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0627539

Grande-Synthe, Calais

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 18/07/2016

 

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Saman, 26, originally from Iraqi Kurdistan. Saman is usually very smiley and affable but today he silently stares into space. The day before, along with other migrants, he left the Linière camp at around 2am to take a bus, which dropped them off at a motorway service station controlled by people smugglers. They waited, crouching in bushes until the smugglers chose a truck and opened the doors for them. Eight of them got into the trailer. The truck went to park somewhere else. They waited 13 hours there and then the truck left to park in another car park. The driver then screamed at them to get out of the truck. It was 3pm. It was Saman’s 48th attempt since he arrived at Grande-Synthe ten months ago. Saman holds the keys for the house that he lived in with his parents. He didn’t have time to say goodbye to them. He dreams of going back one day and opening the door with these keys. Grande-Synthe, France

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 18/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0627538

Grande-Synthe, Calais

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 18/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0628533

Ali, 37, Sheerine, 28 and Soheil, 9. Sheerine tells me that her son didn’t like going to school in Iran. They sold all their belongings and traveled to Europe for his education. Ali proudly shows me the nice school bag that Soheil uses to go to the Linière camp school. It took the family a whole year to get here via Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Hungary and Italy. They have been trying to cross the Channel three times a week for the past 10 months. But England, although close, remains inaccessible.

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 07/07/2016

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Grande-Synthe, Calais

Grande-Synthe, Calais, France - 07/07/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0628536

Naef, 28, Katrin 1 and a half, Maran, 9, Zina, 26 and Manal, 7, Yezidis from the North of Iraq Naef and his family are Yezidis. They were living in Sinjar, a province in the North of Iraq, when the Islamic State took control of the region in August 2014 and massacred a section of the population. The family initially found refuge in the camp in Dohuk, north of Mosul, before heading for Europe. Karam, the 5-year old son managed to reach Germany with his grandmother. But with the closure of internal European borders, Naef, Zina and their three daughters are now stuck in the camp in Katsikas in Greece. Maran asks for her younger brother and grandmother who she hasn’t seen for more than a year. She misses everything: her friends, school “and the food is bad in the camp”. Katsikas, Greece.

Katsikas, Greece - 28/06/2016

 

Bruno Fert / Médecins Sans Frontières / Picturetank FEB0628537

Katsikas, Greece

Katsikas, Greece - 08/07/2016



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