French Migrant Camps are a UK Disgrace

This week I visited the Calais migrant camp known as the Jungle. I travelled with my friend, the writer, Tom Blass. Our aim was to get in and see what was what. What we found astonished and moved us.

All around we could see diggers and bulldozers hard at work destroying the pathetic homes of desperate people.

The CRS (French riot police famous for brutality) have effectively locked the camp down and threatened us with arrest (and worse) if we were caught in there. The CRS do not want people to see the destruction going on inside the camp. This is a disgrace because whatever you think of the migrant situation you cannot treat people in this way. It is snowing and hailing and there are children and women and men who have no shelter.

Naturally we in the UK decry the way the French are treating these people. But here’s the kicker – the ‘Jungle’ is effectively a BRITISH camp. Whilst the Calais camp and its ‘sister’ camp at Grande Synthe in Dunkirk are on French soil they are there because of an agreement between the French, Belgian and UK governments called the Le Touquet agreement of 2003 which provides for ‘Juxtaposed Controls’. This means bilateral immigration control allowing for the posting of border checks in each other’s country. So Britain can check passports in France and vice versa (how many migrants are trying to get into France?).

Effectively, the UK government under Tony Blair outsourced our migrant problem to the French and this has created the migrant camps dotted along the north shore of France.

Do you think the British people would allow the conditions that permeate the Calais camp to exist on UK soil? I don’t think so. But we are ok with it so long as the ‘Bloody French’ look like they are at fault.

This is the point – don’t think that this is simply a matter of the French being beastly to desperate people. This is the British allowing the French to do our dirty work. For instance Brexiter’s note the fact of  ‘UK funding and material support’ for the camps as a reason why we have nothing to fear from exiting the EU and subsequent possible shredding of the Le Touquet agreement by the French.

Here are some pictures from an  area within the camp that is being ‘cleared’. Any structures still standing will be gone by Monday 14th March – that includes a language school, a playground, a computer room and a stage. The authorities allow a ‘stay of execution’ for so called ‘community centres’ but the cabins and tents that people live in are destroyed with an hour’s notice. Hence the hastily abandoned possessions you can see in the photographs.

If you feel like it please give to one of the agencies associated with the migrant camps. Care for Calais and Help Refugees spring to mind. And please let your MP know that treatment of migrants on our behalf cannot be outsourced to the French to execute so brutally.

Tom and I are planning to return in the coming weeks to see how things change for the camp and its people. We’ll let you know what we find.

Thanks, Alex
10/3/16 London

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CRS officers with guns, batons and shields climb the wall to aid demolition of the Calais migrant camp.
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A ‘Jungle kitchen’, Calais migrant camp.
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The scene a day after after habitation demolition, Calais migrant camp.
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Discarded items following demolition, Calais migrant camp.
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Cans of food rescued from demolition fire, Calais migrant camp.
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Detritus, Calais migrant camp.
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Abandoned kitchen pans, Calais migrant camp.
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A sign to protect the space from demolition, Calais migrant camp
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South west corner of Calais migrant camp
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Abandoned shoes, Calais migrant camp
'Caldo' a Spanish volunteer working with children who said, 'it [the clearances] makes me feel ashamed to be a European'.
‘Caldo’ a Spanish volunteer working with children who said, ‘it [the clearances] makes me feel ashamed to be a European’.
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Teaching French to refugees, Calais migrant camp.
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Soon to be demolished computer room, Calais migrant camp.
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CRS offices entering Calais migrant camp.
Entrance to 'school' empty of children and about to be destroyed.
Entrance to ‘school’ empty of children and about to be destroyed, Calais migrant camp.
Lorries cart away the destroyed cabins and camp materials, Calais migrant camp.
Lorries cart away the destroyed cabins and camp materials, Calais migrant camp.
A CRS office urinates despite 'Private Property' sign, near Calais migrant camp.
A CRS office urinates despite ‘Private Property’ sign, near Calais migrant camp.

Ep9 – Heathcliff O’Malley, War photographer; from Ground Zero to Afghanistan

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I’VE LIVED A THOUSAND LIVES

One bright September morning in 2001, Heathcliff O’Malley was preparing to spend another day among the catwalks of New York Fashion Week for the Daily Telegraph. His phone rang. It was his editor in London saying that reports were coming in about a plane strike on one of the Twin Towers. This call changed the course of Heathcliff’s life was to take. From that moment he was engaged in the story of the ensuing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Heathcliff O’Malley has been a contract photographer at the Daily Telegraph for 19 years. He has covered everything from fashion shows to conflict. He has won numerous press awards and given talks at London’s Frontline Club.

In this Photographica Podcast Heathcliff talks movingly and fascinatingly about his work. He describes in details the life of a photographer covering conflicts, the highs and the deep lows. With almost two decades of time spent photographing the world’s conflict zones as well as royal weddings, catwalks and sporting events he offers many wonderful insights into the life of a photojournalist.

ABOUT HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY – Heathcliff O’Malley is a photojournalist based in the United Kingdom where he lives with his family and has a long standing contract with the Daily Telegraph . He has travelled worldwide throughout the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Asia, covering Reportage, Portraiture, Fashion and Corporate assignments

Prior to this Heathcliff assisted a number of photographers including the catwalk photographer Chris Moore before moving on to a London based news agency.

Heathcliff’s Editorial work has been published in publications as diverse as National Geographic, Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde and the Guardian to name a few . He received an Award in the Photographer of the Year category of the Picture Editor’s Guild Awards in 2001 for his work covering the Genoa G8 Summit, 911 and the subsequent War in Afghanistan.

In 2007 Heathcliff gave a talk and slideshow presentation of his work at the Frontline Club in London focusing on the aftermath of 911 and the War on Terror which he has covered from it’s beginning until the present day.

He also appeared with a panel of war reporters during a “Talkback” session with an audience after the showing of Hollywood actor Tim Robbins “Embedded” play at the Riverside Studio’s in 2004.

In 2010 Heathcliff won a Press Photographer’s Year award for a video he shot in Helmand province whilst embedded with the Coldstream Guards.

Info taken from Heathcliff’s site heathcliffomalley.photoshelter.com

If you can’t play episode here use this link

Boy soldiers from Johnny Paul Koroma's "Westside Boys", now a militia augmented into the SLA, photographed after taking the village of Masiaka back form the RUF . 15 May 2000 Sierra Leone
Boy soldiers from Johnny Paul Koroma’s “Westside Boys”, now a militia augmented into the SLA, photographed after taking the village of Masiaka back form the RUF .
15 May 2000 Sierra Leone
Malecón, Havana
Malecón, Havana
Blood from a slaughtered sheep during the festival of Eid lies splattered on the torn page of a comic book depicting a story from the Iran-Iraq war . Baghdad 10 February 2003
Blood from a slaughtered sheep during the festival of Eid lies splattered on the torn page of a comic book depicting a story from the Iran-Iraq war .
Baghdad 10 February 2003
Inmates at Abu Ghraib prison waves their arms through the walls of their cell compound during an Amnesty by Saddam Hussein which led to the release of tens of thousands of prisoners throughout Iraq after a landslide victory in the "elections". Abu Ghraib 20 October 2002
Inmates at Abu Ghraib prison waves their arms through the walls of their cell compound during an Amnesty by Saddam Hussein which led to the release of tens of thousands of prisoners throughout Iraq after a landslide victory in the “elections”.
Abu Ghraib 20 October 2002
Northern Alliance mujahideen being briefed by their commander outside Taloqan .
Northern Alliance mujahideen being briefed by their commander outside Taloqan .
Surviving firemen at the scene in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre .
Surviving firemen at the scene in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre .
The scene in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre .
The scene in New York after terrorists flew two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre .
Heathcliff O'Malley photographed by Alex Schneideman 2010
Heathcliff O’Malley photographed by Alex Schneideman 2010

From the 80’s to Photographica – A Fond Farewell to the Independent’s Print Edition.

From the 80’s to Photographica – A Personal and Fond Farewell to the Independant’s Print Edition- full transcript below.

An essay on the power of one broadsheet newspaper, The Independent, that did more for the love of black and white photography than any other media outlet in modern times.

Click ‘read more’ for full post.

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Beautifully arranged spreads and layouts honoured the power of great black and white photography from its first edition in 1986. Now the Indie is going online and the end of its print edition is slated for March 2106.

This podcast pays a person homage to this great innovator and inspiring paper.

Remember – Alex is always on hand if you want to get in touch. You do so by contacting:

WEBSITE www.asprinting.net

PODCAST WEBSITE www.asprinting.net/photographica

FACEBOOK facebook/photographicapodcast

The founders of the Independent, r to l - Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Matthew Symonds
The founders of the Independent, l to r- Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Matthew Symonds

TRANSCRIPT

ON THE DEMISE OF THE INDEPENDENT’S PRINT EDITION

The first issue of the Independent in 1986 saw Andreas Whittam Smith, its editor, become a hero to photographers. The Independent boldly placed black and white photography right at the heart of it design and built entire spreads around photographs giving picture editors new, enhanced status as it brought images and text together on equal terms for the first time.

Around that time in 1986 (I was sixteen) my friend, Tom Blass and I, took to various things in order to style ourselves as ‘artistic intellectuals’. I think we might have even smoked a pipe – the memory pains me now. Tom always had the ‘ups’ on me because he wore glasses and this made him much more likely to become a proper artist or intellectual. I don’t remember there being many girls in our lives at this time.

Tom wanted to be a writer like Hemingway – I wanted to be a photographer like HCB. I mention all this because it gives you an idea of the sort of personal cultural terrain on to which that first, eagerly anticipated edition of the Independent landed. For us the Independent was a manifestation of our liberal, artistic ideals. It was serious and beautiful. Much as we would have wished ourselves to be. The advent of the Independent was to have repercussions for Tom and I right up to the present day.

In my broader group of friends the Independent became de rigueur because it spoke directly to the young. By placing black and white photography as one of its key design elements it was making a statement that it placed visual story telling in the same league as the written word. How electrifying would that be if you imagine that one day you might become a documentary photographer?

Come to think of it, I don’t think the term documentary photographer would have meant anything to my adolescent self yet it was the careful nurturing of the paper by its editors and its designers that made black and white documentary photography come alive on the breakfast tables of British broadsheet readers. It is not too hyperbolic a thing to claim that the Independent taught the British to love and value great photography for this was the first newspaper to value, simultaneously, the story telling power of black and white photography and its potential for aesthetic beauty.

And yes – I know the Sunday Times had amazing work by leading photojournalists and had blazed a trail since the Sixties with colour spreads but it was this independently minded Eighties newcomer that was the first to weave photography into the very fabric of its existence.

But the Independent never really made it to the inner circle of the British psyche. It remained aloof on key issues such as eschewing reporting on anything ‘Royal’ and its politically independent stance purposefully never found a place on either side of the political landscape; it seems we British don’t have an appetite for news supplied free of bias. This political ‘statelessness’ was perhaps to have the biggest impact on the newspaper’s success.

The Independent innovated from the word go; it was the first to change format from broadsheet to Berliner and it adopted an uncompromisingly modern aesthetic and typography but it never lost its love of photography.

Photography was always key to the newspaper’s design and often gave the lead to stories where words might more traditionally have held centre stage. To sum it all up the Independent was modernist in its values and artistically liberal at heart. In an era dominated by the Sun and the Daily Mail – both staunchly conservative and vitriolic – the Independent calmly sailed along placing the work of photographers at the heart of its journalistic output.

But this is not just about the Independent – its also about Tom and me. The Independent was the first paper to run my pictures when I was just a fledgling photographer in the early nineties and Tom has gone on to have many articles printed here. Indeed, in the last few months Tom had a large ‘excerpt’ from his new book ‘The Naked Shore of the North Sea’ excerpted (the words set amongst lovely photography of course) and I had several pages devoted to my latest book, Want More, published in its Saturday magazine.

The Indie will of course continue online… But we all know that pictures seen on a screen have not the power of their paper and ink counter parts. A picture on a screen can’t be held in two hands, wide apart, or spread on a table and lovingly studied or folded or even ripped for sticking in a notebook for later reference. The demise of the print edition of the Independent is a blow to anyone interested in the history of black and white photography.

How can we be indifferent to the passing of such a loving innovator of the medium we all love? There are at least two people working today that might never have chosen their path if it wasn’t for this risk taking, innovative broad sheet. Tom and I are very sad indeed.

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