Migrants tell how they risk death to get to UK
Refugees and migrants in camps on the French coast described how they would do anything to reach Britain – even face death.
Their determination to reach the UK is despite attempts by the Home Office to discourage them from making the trip, including social media ads urging them not to come.
Around 2,000 people are believed to be living in northern France, many sleeping in the streets in camps around Calais and Dunkirk, waiting to cross the Channel in small boats or pulling up in trucks.
Record numbers have already risked their lives in 2021 by attempting the trip in overcrowded and shabby canoes.
Watch: The role of lifeboat crews in migrant rescues is humanitarian work – RNLI boss
Crossings continued despite attempts by the Interior Ministry to make the route “unsustainable”.
The efforts consisted of spending more than £ 23,000 on social media ads targeting refugees and migrants living in France between December and April, an access to information request from the PA news agency revealed.
Read more: Nearly 600 migrants intercepted as attempts to cross the Channel continue
Ads on Facebook and Instagram featured slogans such as “There is no hiding place”, “Do not put your life or that of your child in danger” and “We will return you” – translated into Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Pashto.
Home Office says the ads have reached thousands, highlighting the risk to life of making the trips, but since the end of the five-month campaign, more than 7,000 people have gone to the UK in small boats, according to data compiled by PENNSYLVANIE.
But the ads were dismissed as “extremely naive”, with those targeted saying they would not stop them from trying to get to the UK.
A 16 year old boy from Afghanistan said: “I have to go to UK. I am ready to do anything to try to get there. I will try until I die.
A Sudanese man who saw the photos on Facebook said: “We know that crossing and taking a boat is really dangerous, but we have no choice. The UK is our only chance and better than Calais.
Several explained that they were ready to die for a better life in the UK.
A 20 year old Sudanese man said: “I am ready to die, but I still have faith that I will cross OK”, while a 17 year old boy living in northern France said: “He does is not possible to stop us, we cannot stop our journeys now.
“We’ve seen a lot worse than this and we’ve already put our lives on the line, so nothing can stop us now.”
The founder of a charity helping people in France accused the Interior Ministry of wasting money and called on the government to step up to help refugees.
A 23-year-old Afghan man said he also saw the footage.
He said: “We are not here for fun. We have problems in our country, we cannot even celebrate Christmas or Eid.
“We will accept them if that means UK. Seen worse than that in Kabul.
Clare Moseley, Founder of Care4Calais, said: “I am truly horrified by the efforts this government will be making to avoid helping desperate people.
“Refugees are risking their lives to escape some of the world’s most dangerous countries, fully aware that this could be their last trip.
“It is extremely naive of this government to think that social media ads will deter them. It is not a choice.”
Dan O’Mahoney, Home Office Underground Channel Threat Commander, said: “We are seeing an unacceptable increase in dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings.
“The advertisements are intended to deter migrants in France and Belgium from making dangerous attempts to enter the UK.
“They have reached thousands of migrants by highlighting the risk to life of making these trips and by providing information on seeking asylum in the safe country in which they find themselves.”
Watch: Drone footage shows dozens of migrant canoes stacked in the Dover compound