This is the final resting place for those refugees unable to finish their journeys. This small cemetery lies not too far from the Euro Tunnel, where so many lost their lives in the previous year. The graves are simple, tidy and unadorned – collected in an area at the centre of the French graveyard. At least in death our friends are treated with some small respect.
In the North of France, the people refuse to forget those who died in the ‘great’ wars that ripped Europe apart. Cemeteries were built in every town and continue to stand as a reminder for future generations of the sacrifices made during war. ‘We must not forget.’ At the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is the tomb of an unknown solider. One person who could not be identified, but represents all those who fell in the fight against fascism and persecution.
In Calais I found the final resting place of the nameless refugee dead. They survived the wars they fled and the persecution they suffered in parts of the world far from here – conflicts entangled with our own history and wars that European countries still fight today. Instead, they died on our border.
Many people still travel in hommage to visit the cemeteries of the Somme, Flanders and Normandy. Every day they drive straight past ‘the Jungle’ refugee camp and turn their faces away. No one treats this place as a site of pilgrimage. Our friends lie here nameless and forgotten. In Calais Cimetière Nord we see the history of war and neglect is still being written and rewritten on our shores today.