'The migrants are told they have to cross... or they will be shot'

‘The migrants are told they have to crossor else they will be shot’: In a dismal camp in Dunkirk, families and children are still getting ready to board flimsy boats. SUE REID exposes the ruthless and brutal efficiency that drives the deadly trade

  • 27 migrants died yesterday as they tried to cross the Channel from France to UK
  • But migrants in Dunkirk are still preparing to embark on the perilous sea journey
  • Some say they feel ‘obligatedto keep trying despite strong winds, bad weather
  • Huddled round flickering fires for warmth or crouching under flimsy tents, this is where they wait.

    男装, women and muddy-faced children desperate for a new life – so desperate, 事实上, they are prepared to risk everything to get it.

    Ever since the French police destroyed the large camp in the Dunkirk suburb of Grande Synthe last week, their home has been a makeshift camp by a disused railway line.

    There the migrants shelter as best they can from the rain, cold and dirt, undeterred from making that journey to the UK despite the shocking news that 27 people were killed trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable on Wednesday.

    An Iraqi Kurd who gives his name as Karzan Khadir, 31, says he has no hesitation continuing to try to cross the Channel in whatever fragile dinghy his people-smuggler provides.

    ‘I’ve tried 11 times so far,' 他说. ‘Many times the engine has broken on the boat.

    ‘We tried the same day the boat sank. We were out on the sea for four hours, 14 of us, waiting for the English to come and pick us up.

    ‘But no British or French came to help us so we came back to Calais at 1am. It was very cold.

    ‘But I’ll keep trying. If I don’t get in this year, I’ll try again next year – it’s very dangerous but we’re obligated to try again.’

    Ever since the French police destroyed the large camp in the Dunkirk suburb of Grande Synthe last week, the migrant's home has been a makeshift camp by a disused railway line

    Ever since the French police destroyed the large camp in the Dunkirk suburb of Grande Synthe last week, the migrant’s home has been a makeshift camp by a disused railway line

    People claiming to be from Iran , 伊拉克 , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

    People claiming to be from Iran , 伊拉克 , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

    Dangerous is an understatement. Gales swept the English Channel yesterday, with winds gusting at up to 40mph and waves reaching a height of 12ft.

    Couple this with the plight of the hundreds of migrants displaced by the police action, and you have a recipe for disaster.

    ‘The thousands of migrants in France are in a state of collective hysteria,’ says one source in the area. ‘Why else would you put your babies and little ones on a rubber boat to sail 21 miles across a lethal sea? They are like lemmings falling over a cliff.

    ‘By the time they reach France, they are exhausted, they are not thinking straight. They can’t go back, only forward.

    ‘They see other migrants successfully reaching Britain in their hundreds and they want instantly to do the same.’

    This makes them rich picking for the people-smugglers who know they can charge anything from £3,000 to £6,000 a head for the perilous crossings. And if anyone has second thoughts, the traffickers have ways of changing their minds.

    Time and again I have heard that these mafia-style criminals, who have an utter disregard for the welfare of migrants, put guns to the heads of anyone who dithers about getting on a boat. The more seats they fill on a vessel, the more money they make.

    There the migrants shelter as best they can from the rain, cold and dirt, undeterred from making that journey to the UK despite the shocking news that 27 people were killed trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable on Wednesday

    There the migrants shelter as best they can from the rain, cold and dirt, undeterred from making that journey to the UK despite the shocking news that 27 people were killed trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable on Wednesday

    男装, women and muddy-faced children in Dunkirk desperate for a new life – so desperate, 事实上, they are prepared to risk everything to get it

    男装, women and muddy-faced children in Dunkirk desperate for a new life – so desperate, 事实上, they are prepared to risk everything to get it

    ‘I have seen for myself the gangs’ enforcers threaten migrants on the beaches at night to make them get in and set off,’ an Iraqi in his 40s, who until recently was living in the camps of Dunkirk and Calais, 昨天说.

    Now settled in Holland after being granted asylum, 他加了: ‘They tell the migrant “you have to go, or else you will be shot”. I have watched these brutal threats even against fathers and mothers with their young families. They raise their guns as if to fire in the air if there is a sign of mutiny.’

    The trafficking gangs oversee the show with brutal efficiency. They bring in the migrants and the boats to the north French coast, from across Europe and beyond, in a military-style operation that, as another source says, is ‘a wonder to behold’.

    With hundreds of ‘runners’ and tentacles stretching back to the Turkish and Iraqi border, there are five main gangs organising and controlling the boat crossings.

    They are run by Iraqi Kurds under the control of Mr Bigs of the same ethnic heritage who have been made rich and live in fine properties in parts of the EU and British cities from London to Newcastle. ‘All those at the top of the gangs have European or British citizenship, a legacy of long-standing immigration to the West,’ said an informant from British intelligence yesterday.

    ‘One gang calls itself by the name of a city in Iraqi Kurdistan and its top men still have business interests and extended families there. They visit this city regularly, flying out of Europe and Britain first class, and are proud of their roots there.’

    People claiming to be from Iran, 伊拉克 , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

    People claiming to be from Iran, 伊拉克 , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

    Gangs of people smugglers have been allowed to embed themselves on the north French coast for more than 20 年份

    Gangs of people smugglers have been allowed to embed themselves on the north French coast for more than 20 年份

    令人难以置信的, some of the shadowy Mr Bigs are bold enough to visit the migrant hubs of Calais and Dunkirk in person. But they remain undercover when they do, pretending to be migrants themselves. One regularly takes up residence in a tent inside a Calais camp near the city’s hospital. He is an EU citizen and has a house in the north of Italy.

    ‘He does his camp stint to gain the trust of the migrants, to make them think he is one of them, to drum up trade by saying the boat rides to Britain are safe and easy,’ we are told.

    The gangs not only turn their guns on migrants on the beaches. They are often turned on their opponents. A month ago, two trafficking gangs locked horns near Dunkirk after a row over who was controlling what, and how their loot would be shared.

    During the brouhaha, one trafficker was shot four times in the leg by another from a rival gang. The migrants knew about it, some saw it happen. But there is a strict code of silence here.

    When a teenage boy was shot in the head by a trafficker recently – miraculously, he survived without serious injury – his family did not complain publicly and word did not get out of the camps. The migrants are too scared of the gangs to say anything to anyone. All they want is a place on a boat to Britain. ‘They know if they talk, they could be dead and who would know?’ points out another of our informants.

    与此同时, the gangsters operate on a strict need-to-know basis. They use nicknames and codenames, which are changed regularly, as are their mobile phone numbers.

    Many have multiple mobiles, use Signal and other encrypted message systems, and make their communications even more secure by using their own Kurdish and Iraqi dialects.

    Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk, France this afternoon, a day after 27 migrants drowned trying to get to the UK

    Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk, France this afternoon, a day after 27 migrants drowned trying to get to the UK

    Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk. Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies

    Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk. Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies

    结果是, the ‘runners’ taking migrants to the beaches don’t know the identities of the men directing their activities. And those higher up the chain cannot name the Mr Bigs either.

    But the incessant demand for crossings and the lure of money has made the traffickers cut corners this autumn.

    The boats are getting bigger so more migrants can be loaded in. They are also more flimsy and cheaply made as the Turkish factories churn them out in a bid to meet orders from the gangs.

    This week among the hundreds reaching the Kent coast were entire families on frail giant dark-green inflatables with no metal struts across the bases to hold them together. As the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said so memorably of the inflatable on which Wednesday’s victims were travelling: ‘It was like a [paddling] pool you blow up in your garden.’

    The gangs wouldn’t have wanted drownings this week because if the migrants get scared of crossing the Channel it’s no good for business. Yet profits always trump boat safety, even if it does lead to deaths among their own countrymen.

    And money buys silence on the north French coast. I am regularly told of backhanders flying around to ensure blind eyes are turned among the French authorities about the crossings. A source said yesterday: ‘I have watched the French police sharing tea and beers in a cafe in Dunkirk, which is a favourite meeting place for the traffickers’ runners who sell boat places and push the migrants out to sea.

    ‘I have seen the police and the runners chatting and laughing like old friends.’

    The fact is the gangs have been allowed to embed themselves on the north French coast for more than 20 年份.

    People claiming to be from Iran , 伊拉克 , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

    People claiming to be from Iran , 伊拉克 , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

    直到 2016, they put migrants on ferries in the back of lorries. This trade still goes on and many hundreds of people a year are thought to reach the UK this way. But five years ago the boats started coming. First it was a few score, then a few hundred, 每年. This year the total is expected to top 30,000, with the Home Office requisitioning hotels all over the country, at a huge cost to the taxpayer, to house the newcomers.

    Many migrants throw away their identity documents when they are in sight of the Kent coast and about to be picked up by Border Force vessels or lifeboats. 那是, 毕竟, what the traffickers order them to do.

    It means, 例如, that Pakistanis, who are unlikely to get asylum as they hail from a relatively stable country, can claim to be Syrians fleeing a war zone, which will greatly improve their chances.

    Whatever way you look at it, the traffickers are winning. Despite the horrific drownings, more migrants arrived at France’s northern coast last night from across Europe hoping to get a boat to Britain.

    It would appear this is a crisis with no end game in sight.

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