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People Without Papers

29 mins 20 secs








ABC Ultimo Centre

700 Harris Street Ultimo

NSW 2007 Australia


GPO Box 9994


NSW 2001 Australia

Phone: 61 2 8333 4383

Fax:     61 2 8333 4859




My father told me to go. I’m travelling on my own - Mahmoud



It was over a year ago that Mahmoud left his home in Afghanistan to make a solo journey to western Europe, 7000 kilometres away. Along the way he would face what he calls “unspeakable hardships”.



Mahmoud was 12 years old.



Now in Calais, northern France, the boy sleeps rough and hustles for food near what’s left of “The Jungle”, an old landfill site that was home to thousands of asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, before authorities wrecked their camp and threw them out.



Still his journey is far from over.



Like many before him, Mahmoud plans to dodge local police and sneak on to a London-bound truck.  Then, he thinks, he will leave all his worries behind.



When I reach Britain I’ll have a happy life and I will start going to school. I want to become a good human being - Mahmoud



Young Mahmoud is one of a cast of characters we meet in this report by Foreign Correspondent producers Poppy Stockell and Emma Morris, exploring the daily struggles facing undocumented migrants in Calais, Dunkirk and Paris.



Fear pervades their lives. Fear of police who are accused of indiscriminate violence, fear of locals who resent the influx of strangers and fear of fellow migrants.



When Africans and Afghans fight they use knives. It terrifies me – Mahmoud



I’m just afraid. How could I not be afraid? – Almaz, 17, from Sudan



Most migrants dispersed when The Jungle was pulled down. But now lone newcomers like Mahmoud and Almaz, as well as entire migrant families, are trickling into the area.



We will never be at ease – Calais resident Jacqueline



They play cat and mouse with police who destroy the first seed of any permanent camp, pulling down tents and confiscating sleeping bags. 



They are living in the woods, on the ground – Annie, refugee activist



There is minimal government help with food or clothing or shelter.  So the migrants must live by their wits, with some support from volunteers who say they are witnessing an emerging tragedy.



More and more 14, 15, 16-year-olds are choosing to risk their lives to go to the UK.  We’re seeing such horrible deterioration of mental health in child refugees, really worrying levels of self-harm and self-destructive behaviours – Annie, refugee activist



People without Papers, is a 30 minute snapshot of itinerant migrants in search of a future.










Aerial. Road roundabout.
GFX: In 2015 millions of people arrived in Europe seeking asylum.



Dusk. French city.
GFX: This is an exploration of the migrant experience in three cities of France.



Mahmoud walking street. Title: FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT



Title: People Without Papers



Super: Mahmoud, 13

Mahmoud [singing]: ‘My heart, my love, I’m hurt.  My love, my love, my love…’ It has been one year and two months since I left my home.  I’m 13 years old. I have three brothers.



I’ve gone one older brother, then me and one younger brother. I’m heading towards London. My father told me to go. I’m going on my own.  


Mahmoud in woods
GFX: Most unaccompanied minors in Europe are trying to get to the UK.



It’s estimated that 10,000 migrant children have gone missing since arriving in Europe



Mahmoud in woods

Mahmoud:  I faced unspeakable hardships and problems. I’m sleepless with no good place to rest. Police don’t allow us to sleep. A person feels drowsy day and night. A person feels unconscious.


GFX: Calais



Calais sign



GFX:  Calais is the last stop before the UK.



Razor wire surrounding the Jungle

Annie Gavrilescu:  The Jungle as we know it, was opened on April Fools', 2015 with the local mayor of Calais telling people who are camping out in the town and around,


Annie. Super:
Annie Gavrilescu
Help Refugees

the town, that if they come to this site, they would be tolerated.


‘Jungle’ GVs

The land itself was a landfill site, covered in asbestos. It's surrounded by two industrial chemical plants that have had a history of leaking before. But


Annie/Closure of camp

four major evictions later obviously the, the camp is completely destroyed. People were displaced, dispersed across France.


Activists: No border! No nations!


GFX:  At its height, the Jungle was home to more than 6,000 migrants
It was demolished a year ago.



Refugees walking




Annie Gavrilescu:  In January 2017 we started seeing people coming back to the region. At least 100 of them are minors and they are living without any form of shelter.


Child refugees living in woods/Police removing possessions

They are living in the woods, on the ground. The police are not allowing anything that resembles what they call a fixation point, so they take down any tents, they confiscate sleeping bags and blankets. We're seeing such horrible deterioration of mental health in child refugees, really worrying levels of self-harm and self-destructive behaviours. We are increasingly seeing more and more 14, 15, 16-year- olds choosing to risk their lives to go to the UK.


GFX:  Migrants stow away in lorries and cars hoping to cross the Channel.




Jacqueline:  There are more and more people coming.


Jacqueline interview

We will never be at ease. Since the beginning of July we have been obliged to close the gates. Because they’d started to throw sticks of iron bars, bricks and things.



This gives you a small idea of what they throw at us. Big sticks like this. Here you have one stick of iron, and another one there behind it. All of this they throw at you. It’s not nothing.



We can’t do anything, say anything, do anything. From the moment we say something, ‘Oh you are a racist.’ If we say something, “uhhh”, yeah. We can’t do anything but retreat to ourselves. So that’s why sometimes we are a bit aggressive and I apologise for that.



There have been rapes of girls, we should not forget that. We had plenty -- covered up -- but plenty nonetheless.


GFX:   Many local residents support the police.



GFX: In recent elections, Calais voted strongly for anti-immigration policies.



GFX:  Refugee support is mostly provided by volunteer groups, not the French state.



Food prep in Refugee Community Kitchen

Sam Jones:  A small group of us came here in 2015, because we were


Sam.  Super:  Sam Jones
Refugee Community Kitchen

concerned about the crisis which was unfolding, just outside our country in the north of France.


Refugee Community Kitchen

We had experience in catering and chefing and production and event and festival management. We're doing like 2600 hot meals per day. Big pots of rice, 100 litres of curry, stuff that's easy to cook in a relatively small space for a, for a large amount of people.


Beth addresses volunteers

Beth:  The two most important things are speed, so really just getting through people, and being really friendly, making it a nice space for people.  If there’s an emergency situation and we need to leave, don’t worry about clearing up, just get in the van and go.


Volunteer: Whoever is closest to the back door, just push it down.




Sam driving van

Sam Jones:  The numbers are definitely swelling, yeah, that's what we're seeing, there's a lot of young guys there, there's a, there's a lot of kids there, you know there's a lot of under 16 year olds. On the positive side they have a wonderful youthful hope and resilience. But also they can be pretty silly and, you know, hot headed.


Community Kitchen volunteers serving food

It can kick off, and if it does, we leave our equipment, we get in our vans, we leave.



Mahmoud:  The biggest thing I’m scared of here, is fighting. When Africans and Afghans fight they use knives -- it terrifies me.



The Afghans and Africans fight over food.


GFX:  Serious fights often erupt in the food queue.



Almaz. Super:  Almaz, 17



Police van

Annabell:  Are you more afraid of the police or of the men?



Almaz:  The police are doing things and the guys as well. I don’t know. I’m afraid of both. I don’t know. I’m just afraid. How could I not be afraid? Of course I am.


Almaz watches guys by truck

I don’t have a good country so I came here. It wasn’t good. I came to see the UK, Italy, Europe, France, see how it is… It’s not good.




Almaz walks

Annabell: Where do you sleep?


Almaz: Here, on the ground, or there, on the stones. I sleep here.



Five years ago, I was eleven years old when my mother died. A car hit her. My mother, my father and the driver. I was with them, but thank God, I survived. I want to go and see the UK.  I’ll go there in a car. I go underneath the car.



But then with a mirror they look at the engine of the car, and they see me ‘Madame! No chance!’. You have a passport, you go.  No passport, no go. No money? No. If you don’t have money, you can’t go. And we return, what else can we do? And again we try and again we are sent back. Again we try, again we are sent back.


Young man hiding behind concrete bollards near trucks



Guys attempt to jump on trucks




Sam Jones:  The basic tactic is to disperse and dissuade.



If they keep the numbers down or the visual numbers down,


Refugees standing by truck

the tactic works in terms of, you know, the world doesn't see that you know there's, there's real need for help and aid and support, for these people.



Annie Gavrilescu:  In my two years working in Calais, I've seen



pretty shocking police violence


Phone footage of teargassing

from indiscriminate tear gassing, to


French police by van

shooting rubber bullets at people intentionally. The methods that the French police are using



are criminal. They're nothing short of criminal.


French police by van

However there is little to no accountability when it comes to French police.


GFX:  Police did not respond to requests for interviews.



Border checkpoint. Daniel examines truck for stowaways



GFX:  Daniel is a truck driver from Romania.



GFX:  He regularly runs the gauntlet between France and England.



Daniel examines truck for stowaways

Daniel: Can you see it? Look.


Poppy: How many people entered there?


Daniel: Five or six.  I stopped the truck and got out. I’m only one person and there were fifty of them.



Why don’t they go back to where they came from? Iraq, Iran, Kuwait -- they should go back. It’s catastrophic this, catastrophic.



All the people coming here -- in France, Holland, all of them black. Why don’t they go back to their homes?



Mahmoud:  There was no peace, that’s why I came. There’s fighting, that’s why I came -- I had to leave my country. Now we’re here without parents far away from our home.


Mahmoud walking down street

Once I reach the UK I’ll have a happy life and I will start going to school. I want to become a good human being and lead a happy life.


GFX:  Last contact, Mahmoud was still in Calais trying to make it to the UK.



Family camped in woods



GFX: Dunkirk



Abandoned campsite

Charlie Whitbread:  There’s no warning. There’s no warning. You never know when it’s going to happen. You just guess. I guess things


Charlie in woods

have become a bit, little bit too established, a little bit too comfortable.



They’ve been left alone for a little while so it’s all got a bit built up. And this morning, the authorities have come in and cleared the whole lot.


Police raid campsites

They come in in force -- I think in total over 200 police officers, they cut tents open and they smash the poles and bang on tents and rattle the families out, push them out,


Charlie in woods at campsite
Super: Charlie Whitbread
Mobile Refugee Support

although this time they’ve done it more efficiently as you can see, there’s still vans going past. They’ll try and load them onto coaches to take them to accommodation centres.



So about 60 families approximately, probably around 400 people in total. So yeah. It’s a bit of a fucking mess.


GFX:  Families are transported to emergency accommodation all over France, some as far as the Spanish border.



Charlie checking car. Charlie and Chloe pack car

Charlie Whitbread:  No they can destroy the tents, over and over and over again and they can put them on buses and they can drive them to the other side of France, and they can, they can rip down the tarpaulins every morning, but people will come back and people will still stay around here, and they will persist until they get to where they want to go.



And I believe with all my heart that they have every right to do this.


Charlie and Chloe take supplies to migrants.



GFX:  As migrants return to Dunkirk, Charlie and Chloe take supplies.




Charlie Whitbread:  We will attract a lot of attention and probably have a lot of people requesting things, especially after the last couple of days.


Migrants walking through woods



Police vans arrive.
GFX:  Police continue to patrol the area confiscating tents, blankets and sleeping bags.



Charlie and Chloe arrive with supplies and generator

Migrant: Charlie!



Chloe Smidt-Nielsen:  We bring a generator, we bring power to the camp every day, to charge everyone’s phones so they can stay in contact with their families. Then we bring


Chloe. Super: 
Chloe Smidt-Nielsen

Mobile Refugee Support

shelters so essentially tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, whatever we can sort of provide people to sleep.


Police vans and car drive past

Migrant: This is the fourth one, this is the fucking fourth one.


Charlie: Yeah they all do look really cool, don’t they?! They’re all really dressed up. Aviators, jackets, guns.


GFX:  The majority of migrants in the Dunkirk camp are Kurdish.



Charlie with migrant family

Charlie Whitbread:  The Kurds, you get all demographics. We have babies, we have elderly men and women, up in to their 60s and 70s.



Charlie: Oh look at that!


GFX:  Zirack, Sazan and their daughter Saria are trying to get to the UK.



Family’s camp in woods

Zirack:  No house, no tent, no nothing. It’s a big problem for all children. But what can I do? It’s my country’s problem. I can’t stay in my country because my country’s a big, big problem.



GFX:  The family have been living in the woods for almost four months.




Poppy (producer):  And why do you want to go to England?


Zirack:  Yeah, good for family. Good for life, good country, respecting the people...France as a country has no respect. Just UK. UK is good for everything.


Charlie carries child on his shoulders.



Charlie with Zirack.
GFX:  Late in the afternoon, Zirack asks Charlie to help them.



Migrant family at home with Charlie

Child: Charlie!


Charlie: Oh really?!


Zirack: Some tablet is good but no problem.


Charlie Whitbread:  We just brought one the families that that we’re particularly close to. They’ve come back for the evening just to have a rest and respite.



They can stay as long as they need. But generally people only want to stay a night just to sort themselves out, because they want to get back on with why they are here, which is to get to the UK.




There are lots of very hazy laws about having refugees or people without papers inside your house. But this, what we’re doing here, you know, is showing a bit of humanity.


Family back at camp

Child: Lanya!


Charlie Whitbread: Yeah, they stayed with us for a night, they had a chance to shower and had a little bit of respite, and yeah we brought them back yesterday. Yeah it’s slowly building up again and inevitably it will be repopulated over the next week or so and then no doubt be destroyed again. But that seems to be the nature of it at the moment.


GFX:  Zirack,  Sazan and Saria are still trying to get to the UK.
Charlie and Chloe continue to provide whatever support they can.



Paris streets



Deb handing out flyers in park
Deborah Hyde




Deb Hyde: There’s no good looking men to give flyers to!



Can I give you one of my flyers?


Deb interview

Deb Hyde:  I used to be a analyst on economics and politics and what that might mean for investors and traders, and gave that all up to come and see what was going on with the refugee crisis.


Deb handing out flyers in park

Deb: “What I’m doing is I work with the refugees in the north of Paris, and they only have one pair of trousers. So I’m trying to explain to people if they have spare pairs of trousers, they could…

Man: “Where are you from?”


Deb: I’m from London.”



Deb Hyde:  I felt I was missing out something really important about what Europe is. Are we sticking to our values?


Deb interview

Poppy (producer):  What did you discover?


Deb Hyde:  That my worst fears were true. That what we pride ourselves on, what our history is, what we think differentiates us, this kind of false sense of pride that we established human rights and all these values and that other, you know, that countries around the world haven't caught up with us. Actually, we seem to be giving up on those things too.


GFX: Paris



Deb walking down street, shows where tents were

Deb: “Do you want me to tell you about the tents?”



Deb Hyde:  There had been a kind of tolerance here of the fact that they were here.



Deb: “So all of this, all around us here… was all tents.”



Deb Hyde: In the night time, people were dancing together, people were eating together…



Deb: “And slowly, slowly, as the camps built up, they’d start accruing rugs, beds, sofas. But one of the most incredible things was, up here was all the washing.


Police on streets

After the last evacuation, when they were asked to leave, to get into buses and go away, since then, we’re not allowed to have any groupings of refugees here.


Deb walking down street

Now there’s nobody here near the camp, we don’t know where they are, people are just being hunted.


Mustafa walking down street. Super:
Mustafa, 24

Mustafa:  I left Afghanistan because people used to say that Europe is very good. Now, I came here to France but I experienced unspeakable problems on my way here.


Mustafa sits on park bench

I have made an application for asylum and the French government told me to wait for 18 months, and it’s been five months.


Refugee reception centre. GFX:  Mustafa has been given temporary accommodation at the reception centre for asylum seekers.



GFX:  Deborah works at the refugee support centre next door.



Deb with Mustafa

Mustafa: All people are really afraid from police in Bulgaria.







Deb: Yep. Dogs?


Mustafa: Very dogs yes.


Deb: Turkey dogs?


Mustafa: Yes. Dogs.


Deb: I didn’t know there were dogs on the border in Turkey.



Mustafa: Hungary more dogs, Hungary.


Deb: Yep.


Mustafa: Closed border.


GFX:  Asylum seekers are supposed to claim refuge in the first EU country they arrive in.



GFX:  Many migrants don’t know the rules or ignore them.








Deb interview

Deb Hyde:  Given where France is geographically, most of the people here, we think, over 80% of the people in France, have either already been rejected somewhere else, or they've had their fingerprints taken in another country, possibly forcibly, which means that when they get here the first response of the French state is "You need to go back to that country". That's the agreement that's in place here.


Mustafa with Deb outside reception centre

They don't want to go back to that country. They say they're not going to go, and it means that they'll have to live on the streets, survive for themselves for 18 months before they get to claim asylum.


GFX: It’s rumoured Mustafa will be transferred to another part of France tomorrow.



Mustafa with Deb outside reception centre

Deb Hyde:  I think it’s very difficult for anybody to understand the system, least of all the people who’ve got so much emotion invested in it.



Mustafa:  They’re transferring the guys from Paris to other places, saying they are giving us houses.


Mustafa interview

I’m told that I’ll be given a house, saying I’ll be given a nice house.


Men walk the street

Deb Hyde:  We have lots of men on the streets here, who were transferred, but they were transferred somewhere completely inappropriate.






Deb interview

They were transferred where there was nobody of their own community, where there was no public transport, where there was no food, there was just nothing. So because they don’t understand the system, they leave, they come back to here, then they are registered as having escaped. And that means 18 months on the street.


Mustafa talks with French woman

Mustafa: I like French language, French people, French women?


French volunteer: You learnt French with Deborah no?


Mustafa: Deborah? French good.


Poppy: You’ve become mates with him right?


Deb interview

Deb Hyde:  I wouldn’t say we are friends, but I would say I’ve been here seven months, and when people leave, you can’t be there anymore.



He’s one of, I don’t know, seven, eight thousand men that I’ve met. This happens every day. You see people come, you see people go, you meet people, you try and find out about their story, you see them again four months later because they wanted to come and see you, or because everything has fallen through, and they want more advice or for any number of reasons. And it’s a very transient lifestyle for the volunteers as well as for the refugees Maybe it will all work out.



Mustafa and friends on bed with phones




Deb:  One of the things that’s been extraordinary, you know, like, I didn’t know what Muslim men from Afghanistan and Sudan would think about the world.


Deb applying make-up/Walks down street at night

And one of the things that’s been really interesting is they really seem to get off on the way I dress, like it’s some symbol of freedom.


Deb hands out flyers

They are supposed to be refugees, we are supposed to be able to recognise that they’ve come from war torn countries, they’ve suffered torture, deprivation, unimaginable things, and then through a bureaucratic process that seems to be completely pointless, all the numbers add up to the fact that we are just shifting people around a chessboard. It’s got nothing to do with anything. And it’s people's lives.


Mustafa dressing



Migrants queue for transfer buses

Mustafa:  After getting up early in the morning, I took shower and took tea. When I got outside, around 80 people were being transferred to other places from Paris.  There were Afghans and Africans who were transported in two buses to other provinces, which are almost four, five and six hours away from this place.


Mustafa walks down street.
GFX:  But Mustafa’s name was not on the list.



Mustafa interview

Mustafa:  But maybe they will transfer us on Monday..


Mustafa walks down streets

.I’m happy not to be transferred because I’m now familiar with Paris, it’s a good place.


Mustafa takes selfie

Deb Hyde:  He's a really smart, charming, work hard man. He's all the things that people don't know about refugees.


GFX:  People Without Papers



Credit start:



Outpoint after credits




Writer Director Camera: Poppy Stockell

Producer: Emma Morris

Editor Matthew Walker

Fixer: Annabell Van den Berghe

Camera & Drone: Niall Lenihan

Translator: Rehmat Khan

Edit Assistant: Tom Car

Sound Mix: Evan Horton

Grade: Simon Brazzalotto

Online Editor: Patrick Livingstone

Executive Producer: Marianne Leitch

© 2017


© 2013 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom

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