A simple map showing the shape of France


The number of displaced people in Northern France continuously fluctuates because the community it hosts is highly transient. Many people reach Northern France after months of travel, hoping to cross the English Channel to the UK. Calais and the surrounding area host around 2,000 refugees, which will likely increase given the situation in Ukraine. In 2021, an estimated 35,382 people attempted to cross the English Channel, almost three times as many as in 2020. This is likely due to other routes being closed or more challenging to access rather than an overall increase in people seeking asylum. Many people making this journey speak English, have family or friends in the UK, and/or have been subject to state violence in other countries, deterring them from claiming asylum there.

Government Response

Displaced people in France face “inhuman and degrading living conditions, as well as police abuse and harassment.” The state sometimes provides emergency shelter during particularly cold weather, but almost all migrants are forced to live outside in makeshift camps. Police minimise livable areas and frequently seize property. Human Rights Observers witnessed at least 156 evictions in February alone, and roughly 627 tents and tarps were destroyed across Calais and Grande-Synthe. These evictions regularly subject people to violence and police brutality.

Stay Informed Links

Refugee Rights Europe
Details the changing conditions in Calais in the five years since the Calais jungle was dismantled.