They wait, either huddled around flickering fireplaces or under thin tents.
Men, women and muddy-faced children desperate for a new life – so desperate, in fact, they are prepared to risk everything to get it.
Since the French police demolished the Grande Synthe camp, in Dunkirk’s suburb of Grande Synthe, last week their camp has been made into a camp with a railway track.
They shelter from the rain, dirt and snow, making it possible to travel to the UK. Despite the horrifying news of 27 deaths trying to cross Channel using an inflatable, they are determined to continue their journey.
A 31-year old Iraqi Kurd, who goes by Karzan Khadir (Iraqi Kurd), says that he is not afraid to continue crossing the Channel in any dinghy provided by his people-smuggler.
‘I’ve tried 11 times so far,’ he says. ‘Many times the engine has broken on the boat.
‘We tried the same day the boat sank. Four hours later, fourteen of us were on the water waiting for English rescuers to arrive.
‘But no British or French came to help us so we came back to Calais at 1am. It was freezing cold.
‘But I’ll keep trying. If I don’t get in this year, I’ll try again next year – it’s very dangerous but we’re obligated to try again.’
The large French police camp located in Grande Synthe, Dunkirk has been destroyed. Since then the migrants’ home was made a temporary camp using a disused railway track.
Many people claiming to come from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan claim that their chance at settling down in the UK is worth risking the death to get to Dover.
To call it dangerous is an exaggeration. Yesterday’s gales swept across the English Channel, with winds reaching up to 40mph gusting and waves of over 12 feet high.
This is just one example of what can happen when you add the suffering of hundreds of migrants who were forced to flee by police actions, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
‘The thousands of migrants in France are in a state of collective hysteria,’ says one source in the area. ‘Why else would you put your babies and little ones on a rubber boat to sail 21 miles across a lethal sea? It’s like watching lemmings fall off the cliff.
‘By the time they reach France, they are exhausted, they are not thinking straight. They can’t go back, only forward.
‘They see other migrants successfully reaching Britain in their hundreds and they want instantly to do the same.’
This makes them rich picking for the people-smugglers who know they can charge anything from £3,000 to £6,000 a head for the perilous crossings. Traffickers can change their mind if they have second thoughts.
These mafia-style criminals who are completely uncaring about the welfare of migrants have been threatening anyone trying to get on a boat. They make more money the more they have seats on vessels.
They shelter from the rain, dirt and snow, yet they are determined to continue their journey to Britain, in spite of the horrifying news that 27 people died trying to cross Channel using an inflatable.
Men, women and muddy-faced children in Dunkirk desperate for a new life – so desperate, in fact, they are prepared to risk everything to get it
‘I have seen for myself the gangs’ enforcers threaten migrants on the beaches at night to make them get in and set off,’ an Iraqi in his 40s, who until recently was living in the camps of Dunkirk and Calais, said yesterday.
Now settled in Holland after being granted asylum, he added: ‘They tell the migrant “you have to go, or else you will be shot”. This was the brutal threat that I saw even directed at fathers and mothers, as well as their children. They raise their guns as if to fire in the air if there is a sign of mutiny.’
Trafficking gangs are responsible for the brutal execution of this operation. They bring in the migrants and the boats to the north French coast, from across Europe and beyond, in a military-style operation that, as another source says, is ‘a wonder to behold’.
With hundreds of ‘runners’ and tentacles stretching back to the Turkish and Iraqi border, there are five main gangs organising and controlling the boat crossings.
The Iraqi Kurds who run them are of the same ethnic heritage as Mr Bigs, and they have fine homes in some of the EU’s most prestigious British and EU cities. ‘All those at the top of the gangs have European or British citizenship, a legacy of long-standing immigration to the West,’ said an informant from British intelligence yesterday.
‘One gang calls itself by the name of a city in Iraqi Kurdistan and its top men still have business interests and extended families there. They visit this city regularly, flying out of Europe and Britain first class, and are proud of their roots there.’
Some people claim to have been from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. They say the risk of living in the UK makes it worth the death to get to Dover.
For more than twenty years, gangs of people-smugglers were allowed to settle on the coast north France for their gangs.
Some of the Mr Bigs, who are shadowy and obnoxious, have been known to make visits to Calais’s and Dunkirk’s Migrant Hubs. They act as migrants, but they are still hidden when they visit. One regularly takes up residence in a tent inside a Calais camp near the city’s hospital. A citizen of the EU, he has a home in northern Italy.
‘He does his camp stint to gain the trust of the migrants, to make them think he is one of them, to drum up trade by saying the boat rides to Britain are safe and easy,’ we are told.
These gangs don’t only target migrants along the coast, they also turn their guns against them. Their opponents are frequently turned against them. Two trafficking gangs fought for control of Dunkirk, a month ago.
The brouhaha saw one trafficker being shot in the leg four times by another member of a rival gang. It was known to the migrants, and some even witnessed it. However, there’s a code of silence.
When a teenage boy was shot in the head by a trafficker recently – miraculously, he survived without serious injury – his family did not complain publicly and word did not get out of the camps. Migrants are scared to speak up about the gangs. They want a spot on a boat that takes them to Britain. ‘They know if they talk, they could be dead and who would know?’ points out another of our informants.
Gangsters work on strict need-to know basis. The gangsters use codenames and nicknames that are constantly changing, along with their mobile numbers.
Numerous people have several mobiles. They use Signal and other encrypted messaging systems. To make their communication even safer, they can also use their Kurdish or Iraqi dialects.
After 27 migrants were drowned while trying to cross the Atlantic to enter Britain, this afternoon’s Migrants gathered at a Camp in Grand-Synthe.
A new Camp was established in Grand-Synthe, near Dunkirk. A few officers patrolled beaches around Calais, but this time they failed to stop many migrants setting out for the UK on dinghies.
As a result, the ‘runners’ taking migrants to the beaches don’t know the identities of the men directing their activities. Those at the top can’t name the Mr Bigs.
Traffickers have made a lot of concessions this fall due to the constant demand for crossings as well as the lure of cash.
Because more migrants are able to be loaded on the boats, they’re getting larger. As the Turkish factories produce them, they are more fragile and less expensive to make in an effort to satisfy gang orders.
Many families were transported to the Kent coast by hundreds of inflatables. The bases had no metal supports and the giant inflatables weren’t sturdy enough to support them. As the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said so memorably of the inflatable on which Wednesday’s victims were travelling: ‘It was like a [paddling] pool you blow up in your garden.’
The gangs wouldn’t have wanted drownings this week because if the migrants get scared of crossing the Channel it’s no good for business. However, profits are always more important than boat safety.
Money can buy silence along the coast of north France. Backhanders are said to be flying about in order for the French authorities not to see the dangers of the crossings. A source said yesterday: ‘I have watched the French police sharing tea and beers in a cafe in Dunkirk, which is a favourite meeting place for the traffickers’ runners who sell boat places and push the migrants out to sea.
‘I have seen the police and the runners chatting and laughing like old friends.’
Fact is that the gangs were allowed to settle on the French north coast for 20+ years.
Many people claiming to come from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan claim that the opportunity to settle in the UK is worth risking their lives to get to Dover.
They used to transport migrants by lorries, on ferries. It is still a common trade and thousands of migrants are believed to travel this way each year. Five years ago, the first boats arrived. The boats started coming in small numbers, but then they increased to a number of hundred annually. The Home Office is requesting hotels across the country to accommodate the immigrants. This will increase the number of people expected to arrive in the UK this year to 30,000.
Many migrants will throw out their ID documents when they see the Kent coast. They are just about to be picked by Border Force vessels, or lifeboats. This is what traffickers tell them they must do.
This means that Pakistanis can, although unlikely to receive asylum because they come from stable countries, claim to have fled Syria to improve their chances of getting asylum.
Regardless of how you view it, traffickers win. Despite the horrific drownings, more migrants arrived at France’s northern coast last night from across Europe hoping to get a boat to Britain.
This seems like a crisis that has no solution.