Calais, France — Bold asylum seeker Emmanuel Malva, who lived in a temporary camp on the northern coastline of France for the past week and dreamed of building a crossroads, seeing the lights on the other side of the English Channel on Thursday. bottom.
“I don’t think I’ll die,” he said. “I believe I’m going to England.”
After a long trip to Europe from homes fleeing to the Middle East and Africa, 16-year-old Malva and other immigrants are separated from their goals by a few waterways. However, the narrow passages are deceptive, as it was revealed on Wednesday that at least 27 people died when they failed to cross the strait on a flimsy inflatable boat.
Despite the dead — the disaster has been one of Europe’s deadliest immigrants in recent years — Malva and others are still waiting for the right time to jump out of the woods on their boats and rest on the beach on Thursday. I did.
Over the last few months, the number of immigrants leaving the channel has skyrocketed as authorities cracked down on other routes to the United Kingdom, especially trucks through tunnels under the channel.
“This is the new Mediterranean,” said 16-year-old Malva, who arrived in Calais a week ago, evoking the scene of the 2015 immigration crisis that shook Europe.
Malva himself made a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Italy after leaving Liberia in West Africa over a year ago. On Thursday he was talking in a wooded area near the coast. There, dozens of other asylum seekers were looking for a shelter from the rain under a blue tarpaulin, trying to keep the area around the fire warm.
Inspired by the tragedy at sea the day before, French and British leaders vowed to crack down on the crossroads of immigrants in the waterways that separate the two countries, blame the organized smuggling ring, and blame each other.
The dead calmly reminded French authorities that there had been little change in the five years since the dismantling of Calais’ vast immigrant camp. Both countries are still struggling to deal with migrants in the region by following a policy of immigrant rights groups and immigration experts putting asylum seekers at unnecessary risk.
On Thursday, French officials confirmed that children and pregnant women were among the drowned people as the crew recovered and worked in the cold and wind to identify the dead.
Two survivors, Iraq and Somalia, were found and taken to a French hospital where they were treated for severe hypothermia.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said officials believed that about 30 people were crowded on the ship compared to the “pool blown up in the garden.”
French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke on the phone Wednesday, saying they agreed to step up efforts to prevent migrants from traveling to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The UK is currently funding France to cover the costs of deterring crossings through surveillance and patrols.
The two countries have long blamed each other for being too little to curb crossroads, but many immigration experts and rights groups say they share responsibility. Departure for Europe.
François Elan, an immigration expert at the Collège de France in Paris, said: “Why does France allow British police officers on French lands to help stop immigrants? Because they share the same ideology that these asylum seekers are undesirable. “
At the beginning of the European migrant crisis in 2015, the English Channel was considered an unbreakable barrier. Due to its changing currents and unstable weather, attempts to cross were too dangerous.
Instead, many tried to get on a truck that went into a tunnel under the waterway. But now police are patroling the roads leading to the waterways on a regular basis, with 12-foot-high barbed wire fences extending miles along several routes to Calais Harbor. This has significantly reduced the number of migrants hitchhiking on cargo trucks.
Pierre Roques, coordinator of the curry nonprofit Auberge demiglace, said the northern coastline of France has been “militized” over the past few years, “immigrants have increased security. The more you are exposed, the more the smuggling network will develop. ” I can’t cross it myself anymore. “
Several Sudanese migrants lined up at food distribution stations outside Calais said police often wiped out their temporary camps and sometimes beat them with electric sticks. The Human Rights Watch report, published in October, described tactics to harass migrants and leave them as “forced misery.”
Immigrants play a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities.
Liberia teenager Malva explained that he tried to cross on Tuesday but had to stop because the engine of the inflatable boat didn’t start. French police soon appeared and slashed the boat, he said.
Didier Reschi, director of the French Department of Immigration and Integration, said the surge in channel intersections was due to “a kind of mafia professionalism” by smugglers encouraging immigrants to go. Sea, prices range from $ 1,100 to $ 2,800.
He said France would need “tens of thousands of police officers” to monitor the long coastline where immigrants departed.
Immigration rights groups said authorities, with the exception of crackdowns, have done little to deal with the surge in boat crossings.
Alan Redagenell, chairman of a private organization that provides maritime rescue from Dunkirk, the city most likely to have left migrants on Wednesday, said his team has more than tripled in the last few months. He said he was doing it.
“We’ve been alerting for two years,” he said. “It hasn’t stopped since September.”
In a disgusting report released last month, parliament said the French government’s immigration policy was a failure, which led to a violation of immigrant rights. According to the report, of all the money France and the United Kingdom spent in 2020 to deal with the immigrant population on the French coast, about 85% was spent on security and only 15% on health and other support. Was spent on
This is evidence that authorities were sticking to the policy of making curry conditions as strict as possible and discouraging others from coming, said Macron’s party, co-author of the report. Sonia Klimi, a member of La Republique en Marche, said. ..
“We’ve been doing that for 30 years, but it doesn’t work,” Kurimi said. “Immigrants exist, exist, and will always exist.”
But the politically explosive nature of immigrants makes it difficult to consider new approaches, especially five months before the French presidential election, Kurimi said. Her report, which recommended improving migrant housing and working conditions and streamlining asylum applications, was even criticized by members of her own party.
In Calais, immigrants who want to go to the UK are becoming more and more desperate.
Sasd Amiens, 25, an immigrant from South Sudan, said he had hopes for a truck to the Channel Tunnel.
After graduating from architecture, Amiens described it as “going to England is a dream” and “a well-educated, English-speaking country.”
Amiens said he had fled the war in South Sudan four years ago, stopped in Egypt and Libya, and then endured a trip from the Mediterranean to Italy, where food and water were scarce.
When the truck passes …