The boat cemetery where the dinghies are stored after the Channel crossings

Channel crossing incidents

Hidden behind a secluded forest near Dover lies the haunting reminder of the distances people traveled across the English Channel for a chance to reach the UK.

Stacked on top of each other and buried behind lorry cabs and white vans are flimsy inflatable boats used to transport the many people trying to reach British soil after leaving Calais.

People living in ‘camps’ in Calais have previously told the PA news agency they would rather take the risk on the treacherous waters of the English Channel than stay where they are.

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

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

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

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

The boats, still inflated, rest on top of each other. They were taken from where they were 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 the boats were being stored to be used as evidence in prosecutions against the smugglers.

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

Channel crossing incidents by migrants
Boats at a storage facility near Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Last month in Hull, Nzar Mohamad, 34, 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 dinghy for £6,500.

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

Some of those living in the Calais camps described what life would be like compared to what they had 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 either die or have a chance to pass (the Channel). »

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

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

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

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

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