Migrants hold on to hope of better life as they await chance to cross Channel

Many people seeking to travel to the UK have seemingly been undeterred by a boat capsize which killed 27.

Migrants in Calais
Migrants in Calais

People hoping to cross the English Channel to the UK have said they will still make the journey despite 27 people losing their lives when a boat capsized.

The incident on Wednesday has seemingly done nothing to deter people from making the perilous crossing from Calais to the Kent coast.

In Dover on Thursday, a group of people thought to be migrants wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen on board an RNLI lifeboat, while in France many continued to wait for their chance to cross to the UK.

In the shadows of a disused warehouse in Grande-Synthe, east of Calais, a group of men have waited for a month to make the journey.

The location, they say, had previously been a “camp” for people who had made their way to France and were waiting to get to the UK. It has since been split up, with others living in tents a 15-minute walk away.

Shivan told the PA news agency that he had travelled from Iraq to France. He said he has no living family members and wants to go to the UK for a better life.

He said he waits every day for someone to pick people up in a van to take to cross the Channel, and added his turn is “hopefully tomorrow”.

The 22-year-old translated for other members of the group, of which there were around 15. He said he got to France by “asking people” in Turkey.

He said: “We just want to live. We’re not scared to cross. It’s better to cross. To get to the UK it’s about 15,000 euro. Maybe some people can get there for 2,000 euros, it depends.”

Ali, 23, also from Iraq, said the group living outside the warehouse are from “everywhere”.

He said: “There’s people here from Turkey, Belarus.

“We don’t have a life. We want to live like you in the UK. You only have one life. People are trying and they die or have a chance to get past (the Channel).”

Speaking about Wednesday’s deaths, he said: “They had no chance to pass but we maybe do.”

Migrants in Calais
Migrants queue for food at a makeshift camp in Calais (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Another man, who is 27 and from Iran, said he got into France in a van with around 30 people inside.

He said: “There was a lot of people, lots of really little children.”

The man said the group relies on kind gestures for food and clothes. As the group huddled around a fire, he said: “We go to the bus stop up there and the restaurant brings us food.”

In a nearby, larger camp, trolleys of food are brought in for the families with young children living in tents.

They said the news of the 27 people dying was “sad” but they will still attempt the crossing themselves.

One man, who did not want to be named, said he was due to get on a boat on Wednesday morning, and he had even gone to a beach to meet with people smugglers, but his attempt was stopped by police.

He said: “There were two boats and had already gone.”

The man said news of the drownings had made him “scared” about the crossing.

Migrants in Calais
Men cut each other’s hair at a makeshift camp in Calais (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Sanger Ahmed, from Belarus, said he lived in Manchester around 10 years ago but went to Iraq and then back home. He arrived in France last week after taking a train through Germany.

The 32-year-old told PA he left home “to get a chance to get to the UK”.

Mr Ahmed said he has a degree in business management and wants to get to the UK for a better life.

He said when he lived in Manchester it was “easier” to get to the UK, “but now you take a boat”.

He added: “I think I will try and do that. There are people that manage that and I need to speak to them about it.”

Speaking about Wednesday’s incident, Mr Ahmed said: “I’ve heard different stories. There is no information. Everyone is devastated.

“I want to go for a better life. It has better asylum and standard of living. I don’t have family there but most people do.

“I am scared to go over. It has made us all scared.”

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