Carsten Snejbjerg

Fort Europe
Location: Copenhagen
Nationality: Denmark
Biography: I became interested in photography during a 3,400 km bike trip alone through China and Vietnam in 1997 and in 2000 I entered the Danish School of Journalism. My images have been published in National Geographic, New York Times,... read on
Public Story
Fort Europe

Europe is spending more and more money trying to keep illegal migrants out. The fence continues to climb higher and higher, and I wanted to know more about what was going on. 

Last September, I was shocked to see a camp in Calais, France being demolished. It was only 1,100 km from my home and all I knew about this camp was that migrants were living under horrible conditions and the French government made laws so that it was illegal to help them. You could face a fine of up to 30,000 euro and be imprisoned for up to five years.

At that time, I decided that I wanted to show how these migrants were living in France. Calais is the first part of a project with stories from different countries about illegal immigration in Fort Europe.

The purpose of the project is to illustrate the consequences of these laws made by European governments, using individual stories. These people come to Europe seeking a better life for themselves and their families as they stand in a no-mans-land on the borders, living under horrible conditions. The immigrants, some already in the hands of unscrupulous human traffickers, risk their lives on the long journey from their homes in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia; and again when they try to cross the borders of the EU. Using their example, I aim to tell the very complex story of one of the biggest challenges in Europe today.

I photographed in Calais for nine days trying to get closer to the migrants lives and thoughts. By spending time with these people it became easier to show their living conditions in a way that presented them with dignity and respect. My images also show the difficulty of their day-to-day.

My goal is to take photographs that would get under the skin of the viewers and move them, to show people the consequences of the laws and behavior of the French government; to show what effect these laws have on people looking for a better life. In other words, I want to give perspective on this issue.