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The Aftermath. Topographical imprints of France’s forgotten migrant camp Grande-Synthe.

Jacky Chapman | France

The Aftermath. Topographical imprints of France’s forgotten migrant camp Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk.

Topographical imprints of France’s forgotten migrant camp Grande-Synthe was photographed five days after the last refugee left the illegal waterlogged site opposite a housing estate on the outskirts of Dunkirk, Northern France (home to approximately 3,000 migrant men women and children).

These seemingly abstract images capture the lives of real people, in real time, fleeing their oppression. Swathes of sodden clothing and other artifacts remain -- shoes, boots, duvets, tents, sleeping bags. The objects look to be awaiting fossilization into future ancient relics and testament to what may prove to be a forgotten history as the camp could well be eventually buried by new developments in northern France.

These photographic documents have a quality akin to topographical satellite imagery; geographical craters and crevasses, lakes and mountain ranges, desert-like landscapes, ripples in the sand as water returns to the sea. But far from aerial views, the images show the personal remains of life in a migrant camp, residuals in the mud -- an enduring memorial to humankind’s inhumanity to humankind.


On 7th March 2016, the first refugees from this Grande-Synthe mire made the 10-minute journey by foot to newly erected wooden sheds, assembled by Médecins Sans Frontières, near the Port of Dunkirk. This short journey is perhaps not much compared to the extraordinary miles already travelled across a continent to escape persecution and war.



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