The boat cemetery where the canoes are kept after the Channel crossings


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Out of sight, behind an isolated forest near Dover, is the haunting reminder of how far people have traveled across the Channel to have a chance to reach the UK.

Stacked on top of each other and buried behind white trucks and vans, inflatable and fragile boats are used to transport the many people trying to reach British soil after leaving Calais

People living in “camps” in Calais had previously told the PA news agency that they preferred to take the risk on the dangerous waters of the English Channel rather than stay put.

The boats are stored at a facility near Dover in Kent (Gareth Fuller / PA) / PA wire

On Wednesday, 27 people traveling from France to England lost their lives.

Women and children were on board the boat which capsized after leaving Calais. Only two survived.

A photo of the boat carrying them looked like those found outside a government high security compound next to a forest less than half an hour’s drive from where people crossing the Channel are. their first steps on British soil.

The boats, still inflated, overlap. They were taken from where they had been left by people hoping for a better life in England to the warehouse where they recall the perilous journey from Calais to Dover.

The Home Office said in July that the boats were in storage to be used as evidence in the prosecution of smugglers.

Those who want to get to the UK are willing to pay the smugglers thousands of pounds who can buy the ships for a very small fraction of their revenue.

Boats in a storage facility near Dover (Gareth Fuller / PA) / PA wire

Last month in Hull, 34-year-old Nzar Mohamad was jailed for his role in a human trafficking plot, in which he arranged to bring 21 people to the UK. He had bought a canoe for £ 6,500.

Mohamad arrived in the UK in a lorry in 2019 and himself paid a smuggler £ 2,000 for the trip.

Some people living in the Calais camps described what life would be like compared to what they left behind in Iraq, Iran and Belarus.

Ali, 23, from Iraq, told the AP: “We have no life. We want to live like you in the UK. You only have one life. People try and they die or have a chance to get through (the Channel.) ”

He said the news of Wednesday’s deaths had not dissuaded him from boarding the small boats, adding: “They had no chance of getting through but maybe we do.”

Another man, who did not wish to be named, said he was due to board a boat on Wednesday and even went to a boat to meet smugglers, but his attempt was stopped by police .

He said, “There were two boats and one had already left. “

The man was among those who said news of Wednesday’s drowning “scared” them, but added they would still attempt to cross the English Channel.


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