Some migrants who are staying in Calais, France, said that they are willing to risk their lives to reach Britain by sea.
More than 250 migrants, many of them Iranians, have arrived in Britain over the last two months after crossing the English Channel in fishing boats or dinghies. The British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has described the spike in sea arrivals as a “crisis”.
Ali and Mohsen are among those whose one aim is to get across the English Channel to Britain. The two Iranians are in touch with smugglers who have offered to take them across for around 8,000 U.S. dollars. They both know the journey is dangerous but they are willing to take the risk.
“The weather is windy, and you don’t know if the person driving the boat is capable or not, so it’s risky, people are risking their lives on the water, you can’t imagine it and I don’t think you would try it, but for us it’s the only option, we don’t have another one,” said Mohsen.
Ali lived in Manchester for 15 years but was unable to return after traveling back to Iran to visit his sick mother.
“Most of the people, they don’t know, they think the U.K. is a dreamland, is a paradise, there they’ll be rich, they will have too much money. But I don’t think this way. I just think this way because I grew up there, I left all my friends there,” said Ali.
The number of migrants living in Calais fell sharply after French authorities destroyed the main camp there in 2016, but a local community kitchen still dishes out 15,000 hot meals a day to people living on the streets in the area.
Coast Guard patrols in the Channel have been stepped up. So far, authorities say about 280 migrants have actually made it to Britain by boat in recent months, while about 350 have been stopped in French waters.
Activists say smugglers are exploiting the imminent approach of Brexit to tell desperate people the Channel will get harder to cross – so it’s now or never.
Mohsen and Ali say they’re determined to reach Britain whatever it takes.