Refugees Use Scraps To Build Houses That Remind Them Of Home

"Refugees are just looking to live their lives as normally as possible."

Refugees, who have left their homes behind, often have to create makeshift ones along the road, using any materials they can find.

In his photo series “Invisible Cities,” Italian photographer Marco Tiberio documents the resilience and resourcefulness of refugees in the camp of Calais, in northern France, to build these temporary residences. 

“When you see the usual reportage on refugees, you see their faces, you see their poverty,” Tiberio told The Huffington Post. “But with photos of houses, I’m trying to portray something else: their skills. Refugees are just looking to live their lives as normally as possible, and to build something that reminds them of home.”

Lybian tent situated in the central part of the camp.
Lybian tent situated in the central part of the camp.

The Calais camp, also known as “the Jungle,” is a makeshift camp where migrants often live in dire conditions in tents and huts.

According to aid organizations, there are somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 refugees in Calais, Reuters reported. 

Tiberio’s photos, taken last summer, capture the camp before the government demolished its southern part in February and March. Earlier this month, the Calais mayor said the remaining half of the camp would be dismantled soon as well. 

These eight photos show how refugees have built temporary homes ― and communities ― with whatever they can find in the Calais “jungle.”


1. The House Of A Former Architect

”This is Alpha’s house. He is a refugee from Sudan who is an architect. He built his own house following the shape and design of the houses in the Nuba Mountain region and around it he built an art space for the camp, where he displayed graffitis and paintings.” ― Marco Tiberio


2. A Home That Pays Tribute To Its Host Country

“This house belonged to Sudanese refugees ― it was one of the only ones to display a French flag, and to have a small garden.” ― Marco Tiberio


3. A House Protesting Lack Of Proper Housing 

“This house was inhabited by five Sudanese refugees. They wrote on the external wall, ‘This is not a housing solution,’ as a protest.” ― Marco Tiberio


4. A House Half-Built

“This house is in the second step of construction, when they put blankets to insulate the interior part of the house. The first step is a simple framework made of wood, while the last one is when they put a plastic cloth on top of the blankets to protect the house from the wind and rain.” ― Marco Tiberio


5. The Home Of A Churchgoer

“This tent was situated just in front of the church. It was owned by an Eritrean refugee called David, 22, who used to take care of the church of the camp. Some days after we met he managed to reach the U.K.” ― Marco Tiberio


6. A Makeshift Market

“This was a shop situated in the central commercial area of the camp. They sold any kind of product ― from cigarettes to orange juice ― which they usually bought in a small supermarket in Calais city centre.” ― Marco Tiberio


7. The House Of An Inspired Painter

”Abdellah, who owns the house, is a painter from Sudan. He was very happy to be in Calais because he had the chance to keep on with his passion, something prohibited in Sudan. Abdellah managed to get asylum in France.” ― Marco Tiberio


8. A Home That Will Be Missed

”One of the inhabitants of the house was Rashid, from Sudan. Rashid had a university degree in electronics, and his goal was to use it to find a job in France. He managed to get asylum in southern France, near Toulouse. I talked with him, and he told me he was happy, but he missed Calais.” ― Marco Tiberio


H/T Wired.



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