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Fears more migrants will die if they cross today


Storm Arwen will tear through the Channel today raising fears more migrants will die if they try to cross from France to Britain as MPs demanded Emmanuel Macron swamps beaches with police to prevent any boats setting off in the high winds.

Gusts of up to 75mph in the Channel and big waves are expected along Britain’s coast as the first named storm of the season brings gales, rain and snow through today and tomorrow.

27 people died – including three children – died on Wednesday when their ‘flimsy’ dinghy deflated in seas nowhere near as rough as predicted over the coming 48 hours. There are fears migrants could be forced to cross anyway amid reports one man was shot in the knee when he refused to cross after the deathtrap rib went down. 

Mohammad Aziz, 31, has not been heard of since his frantic call in the Channel to a fellow Iraqi Kurd, Peshraw Aziz. He told the Daily Mail last night from his camp in Calais: ‘He was panicking the boat might sink.’

Five of the people who died in Wednesday’s tragedy are feared to be young men from Afghanistan, who have failed to text their friends back in Calais and Dunkirk. Amid growing fears about the safety of winter crossings, it was claimed that a scared migrant was ‘kneecapped’ after he refused to board a boat hours after the dinghy went down. 

Riaz Mohammed, 12, his relative Share Mohammed, 17, and two other teenagers, Palowan, 16, and Shinai, 15, were among those attempting the perilous crossing that day. Friends who were unable to contact them yesterday said they were worried they were among the dead.

Kent MP Craig Mackinlay said that with Storm Arwen set to blast 75mph winds towards France, Macron must ensure that nobody crosses today to avoid more deaths in the Channel. But despite the warning only small groups of police were seen on patrol near Calais.

He told MailOnline: ‘The French should be putting maximum on the ground resources across the 20 miles of high risk beaches north and south of Calais. Bad weather will push the traffickers to use the shortest possible route’. 

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: ‘Conditions on the English Channel look set to become even more treacherous in the coming days. It’s urgent that France works with the UK and EU allies to stop more lives being lost. No-one should be making this kind of journey across a stormy sea. The French authorities should appeal for people to heed the weather forecast and stay where they are.’  

It came as Emmanuel Macron went into meltdown at Boris Johnson today branding the PM ‘not serious’ for sending a public letter with demands for ending migrant tragedies in the Channel. And  French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told counterpart Priti Patel this morning that she is no longer welcome at the crisis meeting on Sunday, after UK condemnation of lax patrolling at French beaches where migrants are launching boats in a desperate bid to reach Britain.

Riaz Mohammed, 12, his relative Share Mohammed, 17, pictured centre left and right, wearing life jackets on the beach prior to the crossing which resulted in the deaths of 27 people. Their three other friends are also missing feared dead

According to Afghans still waiting to cross the Channel, pictured here are two of their countrymen feared drowned - Palowan, 16 (L) and Shinai, 15 (R)

According to Afghans still waiting to cross the Channel, pictured here are two of their countrymen feared drowned – Palowan, 16 (L) and Shinai, 15 (R)

Police search the dunes at Wimereux beaches near Bolougne from early this morning days after 27 migrants died heading to the UK as Storm Arwen threatens to take more lives if more people try to cross

Police search the dunes at Wimereux beaches near Bolougne from early this morning days after 27 migrants died heading to the UK as Storm Arwen threatens to take more lives if more people try to cross

Small police patrols on the beach at Wimereux as MPs demanded larger patrols to snuff out any chance of crossings

Small police patrols on the beach at Wimereux as MPs demanded larger patrols to snuff out any chance of crossings

The flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais on Wednesday, killing 27 people including seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children

The flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais on Wednesday, killing 27 people including seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children

Migrants stand over a wood fire at a makeshift migrant camp in Loon Beach, after 27 fellow migrants died when their dinghy deflated as they attempted to cross the English Channel

Migrants stand over a wood fire at a makeshift migrant camp in Loon Beach, after 27 fellow migrants died when their dinghy deflated as they attempted to cross the English Channel

Macron meltdown as he brands Boris ‘not serious’ about migrant crisis 

Emmanuel Macron went into meltdown at Boris Johnson today branding the PM ‘not serious’ for sending a public letter with demands for ending migrant tragedies in the Channel.

The French president delivered a furious rant at Mr Johnson during a press conference on a visit to Italy – after Britain was dramatically uninvited to a summit on the crisis in Calais this weekend.    

The Elysee Palace had already warned Mr Johnson not to ‘exploit’ the disaster that saw dozens of migrants drown off the French coast earlier this week for political gain, but the premier penned a letter overnight with a five-point plan for cooperation. 

And today Mr Macron could not contain his anger when asked about the developments.

‘I’m surprised when things are not done seriously,’ he seethed. ‘We don’t communicate between leaders via tweets or published letters, we are not whistle-blowers.’

A French government spokesman said the proposals from Mr Johnson ‘don’t correspond at all’ with discussions the leaders had on Wednesday. ‘We are sick of double-speak,’ he added.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told counterpart Priti Patel this morning that she is no longer welcome at the crisis meeting on Sunday, after UK condemnation of lax patrolling at French beaches where migrants are launching boats in a desperate bid to reach Britain. 

The move – branded ‘le grand snub’ – sparked a backlash in the UK with Mr Macron and his ministers accused of ‘forgetting 27 people died two days ago’.

A spokesman for Mr Darmanin, who yesterday accused Britain of ‘bad immigration management’ and enticing migrants with benefits and slack labour rules, said: ‘We consider Boris Johnson’s public letter unacceptable and in opposition with discussions between counterparts. 

‘As a consequence, Priti Patel is not invited anymore to the meeting on Sunday.’ The summit with other European interior ministers will go ahead without the Home Secretary, whose aides had already travelled to Paris by Eurostar last night.

The decision sparked fury from British MPs. Tory backbencher Jacob Young tweeted: ‘Ridiculous behaviour from the French government seeming to forget that two days ago 27 people died crossing the Channel. Stop the boats – as simple as that.’

Fellow Conservative Nicola Richards said: ‘It’s truly childish behaviour being shown by France, becoming more and more evident they don’t want to stop these boats leaving France. 27 people died a matter of days ago, but they would rather to be petty than help find a solution.’ 

 

The high winds brought to the UK by Storm Arwen are initially due to be in Scotland, but the northerly flow of weather will spread southwards across the Channel later.  

Forecasters warn the storm could lead to travel disruption along with damage to buildings and power supplies. Large waves could also see material thrown on to coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. 

MailOnline revealed yesterday that the gangs cramming people on to deathtrap dinghies are slashing to price by 500 euros per person to keep people crammed in. 

Mohammad Aziz, 31, has not been heard of since his frantic call to a fellow Iraqi Kurd, Peshraw Aziz. He told the Daily Mail last night from his camp in Calais: ‘He was panicking the boat might sink.’

The two survivors of the tragedy were named on social media last night as Mohammed Khalid, from Kurdistan, and Omer, from Somalia.

The devastated husband of an Iraqi-Kurdish woman feared to be among the 27 migrants who drowned told of how her GPS signal abruptly disappeared as he was tracking her journey.

Maryan Nuri, from Ranya in northern Iraq, told her husband she was travelling in a boat with around 30 other people.

Her husband, a Kurdish immigrant living in the UK who did not want to be named, spoke of how he had been tracking his wife’s journey to join him before her signal suddenly disappeared in the middle of the sea.

‘She is not in the UK, which means that she is gone. It is very sad for me, and for everyone,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.

‘I had continuous contact with my wife and I was tracking her on live GPS. After four hours and 18 minutes from the moment she went into that boat, I think they were in the middle of the sea, then I lost her.

‘I am in a very bad state.’ 

One friend showed a TikTok video filmed on Monday of Riaz and Share, from Jalalabad, wearing life jackets on the beach as they prepared for an earlier attempted voyage to England.

A pregnant woman was among the 27 who perished. Officials said the dead included 17 men, seven women, two boys and one girl.

Yesterday a lifeboat volunteer who helped pull six bodies from the sea on Wednesday likened the horrific scene to a disaster movie.

Charles Devos, who was one of the first to arrive, said: ‘It was a bit like the film Titanic when you saw all these people plunged into the water, drowning, with no means of being able to be rescued. 

‘Unfortunately, we were only able to recover the dead people.’

He added: ‘I saw the blow-up boat had really deflated. Was it a valve that came loose or did it hit an object? I think it happened due to overloading.

‘Don’t forget, you think the sea is calm – the sea isn’t calm because it’s nearly always choppy.’

Mr Devos said: ‘We passed next to an inflatable boat that was completely deflated. What little air remained was keeping it afloat. 

‘I don’t know if there were children, but we picked up [the body of] a pregnant woman and a young man who was around 18 or 20.’

The French coastguard released a harrowing recording of the Mayday call made after the dinghy was spotted floating empty seven miles off the coast of Calais. 

A shocking photograph of the flimsy inflatable craft – described as barely more seaworthy than a child’s paddling pool – was taken by rescuers.

Migrants in a Camp in the area of Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk, France, where conditions are appalling

Migrants in a Camp in the area of Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk, France, where conditions are appalling

Freezing and windy conditions in France today amid fears more deaths are inevitable because of poor weather and winter storms

Freezing and windy conditions in France today amid fears more deaths are inevitable because of poor weather and winter storms

Groups of people desperate to get to the UK, including children, say they are willing to take the risk of crossing by boat

Groups of people desperate to get to the UK, including children, say they are willing to take the risk of crossing by boat

The only two survivors of the horror – an Iraqi and a Somalian – have reportedly told French police the dinghy was hit by a container ship that punctured its thin rubber hull and sank the vessel.

Iraqi woman’s husband tells how migrants’ inflatable disappeared from GPS as he watched

The husband of an Iraqi woman feared to be among the 27 people who died in the English Channel has told how the migrants’ inflatable disappeared from GPS as he watched.

Maryam Nuri, from Ranya in the north of the country, is thought to be one of the victims of the capsized flimsy boat which sank off the coast of Calais on Wednesday amid harsh seas and cold temperatures.

Her husband, who did not want to be named, was among those anxiously waiting for news on their loved ones after lifeboatmen dragged the bodies of 17 men, seven women and three children from the water.

A Kurdish immigrant living in Britain, he told the Telegraph how he tried to track his wife’s journey from France to the UK, before her signal suddenly dropped.

‘She is not in the UK, which means that she is gone. It is very sad for me, and for everyone,’ he said.

‘I had continuous contact with my wife and I was tracking her live GPS. After four hours and 18 minutes from the moment she went into that boat, I think they were in the middle of the sea, then I lost her.’

They were last night in intensive care in hospital suffering from hypothermia.

Last night, Mr Aziz told the Mail of his final conversation with his friend Mohammad an hour before the sinking. 

The pair, both from the northern Iraqi town of Ranya, had met in a camp near Dunkirk as they waited to cross the Channel. They had both come into Europe via Belarus.

Mr Aziz, 30, said: ‘Mohammad decided to try his luck. But he phoned me in a panic and confessed that he wondered if he had made the right decision.

‘He told me that ‘it’s not good’, he thought the engine was not powerful enough, and was worried that the boat might sink, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to make it’. That was the last time I heard from him.’

French authorities have not released the names of the victims and there is no confirmation of whether Mohammad Aziz is among the dead.

Officials were briefing yesterday that the boat had been carrying Kurds from northern Iraq along with migrants from Afghanistan and Iran. They had lived in camps, slept at Calais railway station and – the night before the crossing attempt – had hidden themselves near a canal.

At a grim, rubbish-strewn camp near Dunkirk, fellow Afghans told the Mail of their fears for their missing friends. Referring to Riaz and Share Mohammed, one said: ‘They tried to get across three days ago, then they tried again yesterday (Wednesday) – and we haven’t heard from them since.’

They said the missing youngsters had been in a party of up to 100 which set off in three inflatables. Again, there was no official confirmation as to whether their friends are among the victims, made it safely to the UK or were detained by the French.

One migrant in the camp, Hassan, 30, from Kabul, was refused asylum in Britain in July 2012 but is now trying to return. He said: ‘My friends Palowan and Shinai were on the same boat. They left me two messages the other day, one in the morning and one in the night, asking me to join them.’

He revealed Afghans described attempts to cross borders illegally as ‘The Game’, and said: ‘Shinai kept calling me saying, ‘Come on The Game’. I didn’t go.

‘I haven’t heard any more – and I think they’ve died. But I’m going to keep trying anyway. They had tried to cross many times. England is so close.’

Sources told the Mail how a female doctor was reduced to tears when confronted with the corpses laid out in a hangar at the Quai Paul depot in Calais.

None of the victims were said to be carrying passports or other documents – a tactic often used as it makes it harder to return migrants to their countries of origin.

Anna Richel, from French charity Utopia 56, which works closely with migrants in Dunkirk and Calais, said: ‘The migrants never cross the Channel with ID cards so it could take weeks to officially identify those who died.’

Migrants in Calais have told MailOnline that they are more determined than ever to reach the UK despite 27 people drowning crossing the Channel yesterday – as people traffickers slashed their prices to fill their deathtrap dinghies to Britain.

People claiming to be from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover with one declaring: ‘We don’t have a life. We want to live like you in the UK’.

Those still willing to risk their lives in rough November seas revealed that their budget boats had also burst off the coast, but they were rescued from French waters before anyone drowned. Yesterday’s tragedy has seen smugglers slash 500 euros off the price of a one-way trip to Kent.

It came as the first picture of the doomed dinghy that deflated just off the coast of France emerged as French police again failed to stop 50 migrants crossing the Channel to Britain yesterday. 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children died yesterday.

Five people have been arrested in France over the 27 deaths, including one man held overnight driving a German-registered vehicle packed with inflatable ribs, although there is ‘no provable link’ with the sinking, according to prosecutors, despite French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin insisting all were ‘directly linked’ to the drownings. 

Thousands of migrants are in the Calais region hoping to get to the UK by Christmas, and speaking in France, a Kurdish computer programmer called Kochar, 25, told MailOnline: ‘It is not going to stop people from wanting to come to England. Everything in life is a risk, and it is worth a big risk to get to England’.

Another Iraqi Kurd called Aram, 41, said: ‘There are some people who will be put off if they think they are going to die, but most people have no choice. We have to try to get to England.

‘I will get on a boat some time. It might be this week or it might be next. I got a call from my friend who told me about the people who had died. I did not know any of them.’

The migrants told how heartless people traffickers have slashed their prices for a place in a boat across by 500 euros since news of the tragedy filtered through to people living in makeshift camps around Grandy-Synthe near Dunkirk.

Those hoping for a new life in the UK told MailOnline that the fare for a place in an open dinghy had been reduced from 2,500 euros to 2,000 euros.

Kochar said: ‘Last week it was costing 2,500 euros to get a place. But last night I heard it had been discounted by 500 euros. It looks like the price has come down because of these people who have died. The people smugglers are worried about losing business – so they want to give a better deal’.

Aram said: ‘I heard that the price had come down. You hear messages from everyone. I am glad it has happened. It is still far too expensive.’

Police in Calais detain a number of migrants wearing lifejackets after removing them from a bus before they tried to cross to the UK

Police in Calais detain a number of migrants wearing lifejackets after removing them from a bus before they tried to cross to the UK

Migrants set up camp on a railway line in Grande-Synthe near Calais today after police smashed their previous camp

Migrants set up camp on a railway line in Grande-Synthe near Calais today after police smashed their previous camp

He paid 2,500 euros to reach Germany from Kurdistan via the route through Belarus, and another 500 euros to get to France.

MailOnline spoke to another group of half a dozen Iraqi Kurdish migrants who told how they came close to death after their overcrowded inflatable boat sprung a leak in the Channel, and they were pitched into the freezing water

They said they had paid 2,500 euros each to be among 52 passengers crammed into a boat which left a beach near Dunkirk last Friday night.

The group who were standing in a bus shelter to escape the pouring rain outside an Auchan supermarket, said they had spent four hours motoring out to sea before disaster struck in the darkness.

One of them, a student called Ali, 22, mimicked the whistling sound of air escaping as the boat suddenly deflated.

He said: ‘The air came out and we all landed up in the water. It was so cold and we thought we were going to die. Luckily everyone had lifejackets so we floated. We were in the water for around 15 minutes and people were crying out before a French boat rescued us.

‘We had five young children and six women in the boat. It was a very dangerous situation and we were all terrified, but we were brought back here.

‘It is sad that people have died, but now we want to try again. It might be in one day or two days or longer. Right now, the weather is too bad to go.’

The ‘flimsy’ and ‘very frail’ grey inflatable boat was photographed by a lifeboat captain who arrived to find bodies floating in the water off Calais yesterday afternoon in the worst migrant tragedy in Anglo-French history.

Two survivors – an Iraqi and a Somalian – have told police their poorly made dinghy was hit by a container ship, puncturing its thin rubber hull and taking dozens of lives. 

And as Emmanuel Macron was urged to get a grip, French police again failed to stop a group of around asylum seekers crossing the Channel on two boats in choppy conditions this morning. They were brought shivering into a freezing Dover by the RNLI at dawn.

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 amid claims in Britain that the French have been sitting on their hands as 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children died yesterday.

Boris Johnson, Mr Macron and their ministers are expected to hold more talks today as the Prime Minister insisted that British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs ‘getting away with murder’. 

As relations between the UK and France become increasingly fraught, Macron’s minister in charge of the crisis, Gerald Darmanin, today blamed Britain for the crisis and claimed migrants are promised ‘Eldorado in England’ by people traffickers because of its suite of benefits and ‘attractive’ labour market.

Mr Macron is said to have ignored the renewed offer for help with patrols during his call with the PM last night with the French President, who insists he won’t let the Channel to ‘be turned into a cemetery’, again accused by critics of allowing a bitterness over Brexit for his failure to tackle migrant traffickers.

Speaking on a trip to Croatia this morning, Macron hit back at critics claiming France is not doing enough. He said police have been ‘working day and night’ since the start of the crisis to stop boats – and have ‘never had more’ officers patrolling the coast. He said ‘our mobilisation is total as far as I’m concerned’. 

French interior minister Mr Darmanin is expected to speak to his counterpart, Home Secretary Priti Patel, this afternoon. 

He said: ‘It is Britain’s attractiveness which is to blame, including its labour market. Everybody knows that there are up to 1.2 million clandestine migrants in the UK and English business leaders use that workforce to produce things that are consumed by the English’. 

He told French radio network RTL that the smugglers are ‘criminals, people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children – there were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat… and for a few thousand euros they promise them ‘Eldorado in England’. 

‘Migrants are told they have to cross… or 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 efficiency that drives the deadly trade

Huddled round flickering fires for warmth or crouching under flimsy tents, this is where they wait. 

Men, women and muddy-faced children desperate for a new life – so desperate, in fact, 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,’ he says. ‘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 , Iraq , 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 , Iraq , 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

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

Men, women and muddy-faced children in Dunkirk desperate for a new life – so desperate, in fact, 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, said yesterday.

Now settled in Holland after being granted asylum, he added: ‘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, Iraq , 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, Iraq , 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 years

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

Incredibly, 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.

Meanwhile, 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

As a result, 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 years.

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

Until 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, annually. 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. That is, after all, what the traffickers order them to do.

It means, for instance, 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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