• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Migrant radio station goes live in France's 'Jungle' camp
Migrants attending a concert in a makeshift theatre, in the so-called 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Migrant radio station goes live in France's 'Jungle' camp

AFP · 17 Jan 2016, 17:10

Published: 17 Jan 2016 17:10 GMT+01:00

It's a chance to lighten the mood at a time when freezing temperatures have made conditions in the camp even grimmer for the thousands trapped here, looking for a way to reach Britain from the port city.

"I'm trying to find the voice and the feelings of the refugees," says Hashemi, giving only his first name. "I want to share what is happening here with the whole world."

Jungala Radio launched its first programme on New Year's Day via Facebook and Soundcloud and is gradually building a team of producers and journalists from the camp community.

One of their budding hacks is a 15-year-old Iraqi Kurd who has been living in the Jungle for three months.

He is enthusiastically hunting out interviews with one of the recorders bought by Radio Jungala via a crowd-funding campaign, though he says it is a tough gig.

"I like learning new things, but this is difficult. When I have to ask people questions, I feel a bit embarrassed," he says with a smile.

But Kaiwan remains determined to make the most of his time in the camp, having already helped out in an aid distribution centre where he could practise his English and make friends.

"Everyone wants to go to the UK, but it's very hard and we need something to do while we wait," says Kaiwan, who learned his English watching Harry Potter and Hollywood action movies with his older brother in Kurdistan.

Desperate frustration

As the French and British increase security around the port, and smuggling aboard lorries and trains has become ever-more difficult, the Jungle has taken on a more permanent feel.

A high street of shops, restaurants -- even a nightclub and barber shop -- have sprung up as tents have been replaced by semi-permanent wooden shacks.

But the Jungle is still a place of filth, boredom and desperate frustration, so volunteers and charity workers try to take the edge off with entertainment and education.

Next door to the well-stocked Jungle library, a volunteer is struggling to teach some basic French to a small group of Sudanese and Afghans -- a sign that at least some people in the camp are now considering asylum in France rather than Britain.

The young volunteer shows heroic patience as she tries to explain the word "bienvenue" ("welcome") -- a word that her pupils have rarely heard since arriving in Europe.

Mental well-being

On the other side of the camp, a young Afghan is on stage in the large white dome of the Good Chance Theatre, giving an impromptu song and dance performance while a visiting British artist jams on the guitar.

Since launching a few months ago, the theatre has evolved in surprising ways -- such as the Eritrean circus troupe that come to teach and practise their tricks and backflips a few times a week.

A member of the Iranian national kung fu team gave lessons here for a while, and his mantle has been taken up by another karate expert from the camp.

"We don't shape what goes on, and we don't dictate whether you come to confront your situation or escape from it, or just to have a bit of fun," says Joe Robertson, one of two British friends who helped set up the theatre. 

Story continues below…

"Many people have come here who are down," adds his co-organiser Joe Murphy.

"Being part of a creative theatre community has turned them around and given them a role to play, which is hugely important for their mental well-being."

Back at Radio Jungala, Hashemi is putting the finishing touches to his music show with the help of Ciaran Henry, a 22-year-old media graduate from Britain who helped launch the initiative.

"We are only here for tech support and constructive criticism. We want the people here to take ownership and control of it," says Henry.

Hashemi says he loves his new job.

"I never thought of doing radio in my life, but now I hope to do more," he says. "I'm just trying to be the best that I can."

Today's headlines
Hollande says Brexit won't change Channel migrant deal
The Calais Jungle. Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday that the Brexit vote won't change border agreements between France and Britain.

Frenchman sentenced to jail time for burying dog alive
Photo: Pedro Dinis/Facebook

A man who buried his disabled dog alive, sparking social media fury in France, has been handed a jail sentence.

Le Thought du Jour
Post-Brexit: Could it benefit France to see the UK suffer?
Will Hollande benefit from the mess left behind by Cameron. Photo: AFP

The referendum result may have boosted Marine Le Pen and the growing anti-EU movement in France, but what has happened since may have taken the wind out their sails.

France 'probes new death threats' against Charlie Hebdo

A special French police unit has launched investigations after Charlie Hebdo magazine was subject to new death threats, according to reports in France.

Paris commuters face summer of transport headaches
Photo: AFP

Here are the train lines to avoid this summer if you're in Paris.

What's on in France: Eleven great things to do in July
Check out Provence's Lavender festivals in July. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/Flickr

We reckon July is by far the best month to be in France. Here's why.

Brexit
France wants Paris to profit from London's losses
Photo: AFP

Paris must take London's place as Europe's financial powerhouse once Brexit happens, a French minister says.

French foie gras industry warns of Christmas shortages
Photo: AFP

The foie gras industry in France is struggling to digest the consequences of the bird flu scare in its heartland.

Paris to honour Ireland's two sets of 'wonderful' fans
Photo: AFP

Fans of Ireland's "Boys in Green" and Northern Ireland's Green and White Army are to be given a special medal for bringing some joy to Euro 2016.

€5 to the coast? Ouibus rolls out new summer lines
Photo: Ouibus

Fancy heading to the coast for just €5 this summer?

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
No more plastic bags! See what changes in France from July 2016
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
2,762
jobs available