In 2002, Laura Waddington spent months in the fields surrounding the Red Cross camp near the French city of Sangatta, with refugees from Iran and Afghanistan trying to pass the Eurotunnel to England. Waddington filmed events at night with a small video camera, these figures were illuminated only by distant car headlights on highways. The Border is an intimate account of the refugees' suffering and police violence that followed the camp's closure.
In those days wandering the roads and the wastelands you could see the refugees everywhere: waiting near the roads, walking toward the port or freight trains. They traveled by two or three, sometimes in groups of twenty or thirty.
At night I would walk along the roads with them. It would take us two or three hours to reach the points where the Eurotunnel fences are located, where they started cutting the wires. Then the arrests began and a police bus drove them back to camp. A few hours later they would reappear and the perverted cat and mouse game would start over.
Most refugees came from Iraq and Afghanistan. It took them six or seven months to reach France, paying smugglers to transport them in trucks across Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. Many had nothing with them, only the clothes in which they traveled. There were teachers, university professors, medical students or masons in their countries.
Some died in the tunnels, some had their arms or legs cut off by trains. I remember, one boy who lost his leg on the road, the week he was released from the hospital he tried to escape again. Months passed in limbo. I couldn't believe we just left them there, like we turned our backs on them.
Laura Waddington, 2002.