The video clip shows three men pushing Dutch photographer Teun Voeten on top of a tent in the New Jungle camp in Calais then apparently trying to take his camera.
At one point in the video, an attacker brandishes what appears to be a large knife.
“I've done a lot of work in war zones and crime-ridden areas around the world, so I wasn't surprised about the mugging,” Voeten told The Local.
“But it wasn't a pleasant moment.”
See the footage below.
As the refugees tussle with Voeten, he yells for help and manages to frighten away the trio, who briefly turn on the camerawoman, Maaike Engels.
“She reacted very well, she filmed it and when he came at her with the knife she just kicked him,” Voeten said.
The thieves only managed to get away with Voeten's notebook, which they threw away as they fled.
The footage ends with the men escaping, while several other refugees give chase and throw rocks at the thieves.
“They came to our rescue, they scared the thieves away,” Voeten told The Local, adding that the attack marked the first knife point robbery in the Jungle, as far as he had heard.
The footage has since made the rounds online, attracting over 400,000 views on YouTube after it was published on Saturday. It has also attracted the attention of right-wing commenters, who used it as an argument about the dangers of refugees.
But Voeten and his camerawoman stand by their decision to share it, even if it fuels racial intolerance.
“We don't have any regrets about publishing it,” Voeten said.
“We put it online because it's a perfect representation of refugees in general, you have good refugees and bad refugees, the bad ones were robbing us while the good ones were rescuing us.”
“We have provided enough context. We have huge problems with self-censorship, and disagree with withholding information from the public for fears they are not mature enough to handle it.”
The journalists were working on an independent documentary at the time called “Calais: Welcome to the Jungle”. A short version of the film has already been screened, with a longer version to be revealed at film festivals from April.
The New Jungle camp in Calais is home to around 4,000 refugees, most of whom hope to cross the Channel to the UK. In recent days, French authorities have pushed to move around a quarter of the camp's residents out of their ramshackle homes into metal shipping containers kitted out with heaters, electrical sockets and cots for babies.
The move has been met with defiance from some refugees.