CROSSING the CHANNEL READ MORE
Northern French coast, June 2021
Dover is 21 miles away from Calais. Just a strip of salty water between France and England, in between migrants and their final goal: the United Kingdom. Despite the country not being in the European Union anymore since February 2020 due to the Brexit, thousands of migrants per month attempt to cross the last few kilometres on the so-called “Britannic Route”.
The French bottleneck at the end of the road to the EU has gathered for years people from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Vietnam, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria, and many more. These people have left their countries many years before hoping to build a decent life in a European peaceful country, just one of those countries that have helped their troubled motherlands in the past decades, and now - due to new political assets - with huge probability is leaving the field to a new unstable government, and to some more strong terrorist groups.
Migrants head their journey to the British country hoping to have their asylum request accepted, and to be relocated to one of the countries of the Commonwealth Nations. All migrants actually in the Calais area want to reach England, but they must be divided into two categories: one group is composed by the people coming from the Libyan or the Balkan Route: strongly motivated people, but physically tired, after a 5 or 6 years journey. The second group of migrants, mostly Kurdish or Eritrean, is the one who has been in the EU for years, but due to the negative result of their asylum request, it hasn’t got any possibility to stay, resulting in deportation back to their countries of origin or to the first country where they had left the fingerprints (Dublin III or Dublin Regulation No. 604/2013).
Both groups will attempt their last game using two ways: trying to cross the choppy water of the Strait of Dover on a simple inflatable dinghy or jumping in a truck that will cross the 50km Eurotunnel on the underwater railway road. This last option is the cheapest one, but also the one with the higher failure rate due to the huge controls, and the one that has been causing the majority of the deceases to date. In the past years more than 180 migrants lost their lives, most of them due to truck accidents or asphyxia.
Using the way of the sea is expensive, but the safest. Every night, from different shores from Boulogne-Sur-Mer to Dunkerque, groups of 20 to 45 people per boat leave the French coasts in the middle of the night, hoping to be on the other side in three hours trip. The British sources documented daily arrivals for an approximative number of 9000 unit in 2020. The trend for the present year is clearly rise up: month after month maritime authorities has seen the numbers constantly increasing, and in the first 5 months of 2021 the number of the migrants who have landed the English coasts are more than the amount of the whole past year. The good weather conditions has pushed smugglers to increase the job and to put simultaneously several boats into the sea is the last trick they are using to increase the crossing success rate, and the profit too.
While migrants are waiting to have enough money or simply to be called by the agent, an approximative fluctuating number of 3000 people live in one of the nine documented camps in the coastal area between the cities of Calais and Dunkerque. Camps are spread in abandoned and dilapidated buildings like the so-called “Unicorn Camp”, located inside a former Magnesia wasteland sheds just aside the Calais hospital area, or in big green areas like the jungle camp in front of the mall in Grande-Synthe. They live in tents and makeshift shelters, cooking food they buy themselves or donated from the many associations that provide them with food and basic needs items such as soap, clothes, and camping equipment. Despite the huge number of inhabitants - single men, young women, and a considerable number of families with kids - none of these camps are and will never become an official camp: French government firmly wants to avoid the creation of a new jungle like the one dismantled in 2016. With this background order from the prefecture, Police, Gendarmerie, and CRS special forces, periodically evicted migrants from camps, destroying tents and shelters, sometimes even every 48 hours. This frustrating way to act brings migrants not understanding the motivation behind the decision and amplifies the discomfort.
Despite this, every migrant will pay between 2 and 3 thousand Euros to the smugglers to risk their lives crossing the Channel on insecure little boats during the night. Every night from different shores, instead of close their eyes and sleep, small groups leave simultaneously the French coasts hoping to not get caught by the police. Most of them are lucky enough to reach their daydream the morning after.
CROSSING the CHANNEL-Front Page
CROSSING the CHANNEL-SummaryPage