Fears more migrants will die if they cross today

Fears more migrants will die if they cross today

November 26, 2021

Fears more migrants will die if they cross today: Calls for French police to put maximum boots on the ground to avoid further catastrophe as Storm Arwen whips up 75mph winds in Channel

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on France to smash slave gangs who are ‘getting away with murder’
  • At least 27 migrants have drowned after their boat capsized as they tried to reach the UK across the Channel

Storm Arwen will tear through the Channel today raising fears more migrants will die if they try to cross from France to Britain as MPs demanded Emmanuel Macron swamps beaches with police to prevent any boats setting off in the high winds.

Gusts of up to 75mph in the Channel and big waves are expected along Britain’s coast as the first named storm of the season brings gales, rain and snow through today and tomorrow.

27 people died – including three children – died on Wednesday when their ‘flimsy’ dinghy deflated in seas nowhere near as rough as predicted over the coming 48 hours. There are fears migrants could be forced to cross anyway amid reports one man was shot in the knee when he refused to cross after the deathtrap rib went down. 

Five of the people who died in Wednesday’s tragedy are feared to be young men from Afghanistan, who have failed to text their friends back in Calais and Dunkirk. Amid growing fears about the safety of winter crossings, it was claimed that a scared migrant was ‘kneecapped’ after he refused to board a boat hours after the dinghy went down. 

Riaz Mohammed, 12, his relative Share Mohammed, 17, and two other teenagers, Palowan, 16, and Shinai, 15, were among those attempting the perilous crossing that day. Friends who were unable to contact them yesterday said they were worried they were among the dead.

Kent MP Craig Mackinlay said that with Storm Arwen set to blast 75mph winds towards France, Macron must ensure that nobody crosses today to avoid more deaths in the Channel. But despite the warning only small groups of police were seen on patrol near Calais.

He told MailOnline: ‘The French should be putting maximum on the ground resources across the 20 miles of high risk beaches north and south of Calais. Bad weather will push the traffickers to use the shortest possible route’. 

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: ‘Conditions on the English Channel look set to become even more treacherous in the coming days. It’s urgent that France works with the UK and EU allies to stop more lives being lost. No-one should be making this kind of journey across a stormy sea. The French authorities should appeal for people to heed the weather forecast and stay where they are.’  

It came as Emmanuel Macron went into meltdown at Boris Johnson today branding the PM ‘not serious’ for sending a public letter with demands for ending migrant tragedies in the Channel. And  French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told counterpart Priti Patel this morning that she is no longer welcome at the crisis meeting on Sunday, after UK condemnation of lax patrolling at French beaches where migrants are launching boats in a desperate bid to reach Britain.

Riaz Mohammed, 12, his relative Share Mohammed, 17, pictured wearing life jackets on the beach prior to the crossing which resulted in the deaths of 27 people

According to Afghans still waiting to cross the Channel, pictured here are two of their countrymen feared drowned – Palowan, 16 (L) and Shinai, 15 (R)

Police search the dunes at Wimereux beaches near Bolougne from early this morning days after 27 migrants died heading to the UK as Storm Arwen threatens to take more lives if more people try to cross

The flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais on Wednesday, killing 27 people including seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children

Migrants sit near wood fire at a makeshift migrant camp in Loon Beach, the day after 27 migrants died when their dinghy deflated as they attempted to cross the English Channel

Emmanuel Macron went into meltdown at Boris Johnson today branding the PM ‘not serious’ for sending a public letter with demands for ending migrant tragedies in the Channel.

The French president delivered a furious rant at Mr Johnson during a press conference on a visit to Italy – after Britain was dramatically uninvited to a summit on the crisis in Calais this weekend.    

The Elysee Palace had already warned Mr Johnson not to ‘exploit’ the disaster that saw dozens of migrants drown off the French coast earlier this week for political gain, but the premier penned a letter overnight with a five-point plan for cooperation. 

And today Mr Macron could not contain his anger when asked about the developments.

‘I’m surprised when things are not done seriously,’ he seethed. ‘We don’t communicate between leaders via tweets or published letters, we are not whistle-blowers.’

A French government spokesman said the proposals from Mr Johnson ‘don’t correspond at all’ with discussions the leaders had on Wednesday. ‘We are sick of double-speak,’ he added.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told counterpart Priti Patel this morning that she is no longer welcome at the crisis meeting on Sunday, after UK condemnation of lax patrolling at French beaches where migrants are launching boats in a desperate bid to reach Britain. 

The move – branded ‘le grand snub’ – sparked a backlash in the UK with Mr Macron and his ministers accused of ‘forgetting 27 people died two days ago’.

A spokesman for Mr Darmanin, who yesterday accused Britain of ‘bad immigration management’ and enticing migrants with benefits and slack labour rules, said: ‘We consider Boris Johnson’s public letter unacceptable and in opposition with discussions between counterparts. 

‘As a consequence, Priti Patel is not invited anymore to the meeting on Sunday.’ The summit with other European interior ministers will go ahead without the Home Secretary, whose aides had already travelled to Paris by Eurostar last night.

The decision sparked fury from British MPs. Tory backbencher Jacob Young tweeted: ‘Ridiculous behaviour from the French government seeming to forget that two days ago 27 people died crossing the Channel. Stop the boats – as simple as that.’

Fellow Conservative Nicola Richards said: ‘It’s truly childish behaviour being shown by France, becoming more and more evident they don’t want to stop these boats leaving France. 27 people died a matter of days ago, but they would rather to be petty than help find a solution.’ 


The high winds brought to the UK by Storm Arwen are initially due to be in Scotland, but the northerly flow of weather will spread southwards across the Channel later.  

Forecasters warn the storm could lead to travel disruption along with damage to buildings and power supplies. Large waves could also see material thrown on to coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. 

MailOnline revealed yesterday that the gangs cramming people on to deathtrap dinghies are slashing to price by 500 euros per person to keep people crammed in. 

Mohammad Aziz, 31, has not been heard of since his frantic call to a fellow Iraqi Kurd, Peshraw Aziz. He told the Daily Mail last night from his camp in Calais: ‘He was panicking the boat might sink.’

The two survivors of the tragedy were named on social media last night as Mohammed Khalid, from Kurdistan, and Omer, from Somalia.

The devastated husband of an Iraqi-Kurdish woman feared to be among the 27 migrants who drowned told of how her GPS signal abruptly disappeared as he was tracking her journey.

Maryan Nuri, from Ranya in northern Iraq, told her husband she was travelling in a boat with around 30 other people.

Her husband, a Kurdish immigrant living in the UK who did not want to be named, spoke of how he had been tracking his wife’s journey to join him before her signal suddenly disappeared in the middle of the sea.

‘She is not in the UK, which means that she is gone. It is very sad for me, and for everyone,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.

‘I had continuous contact with my wife and I was tracking her on live GPS. After four hours and 18 minutes from the moment she went into that boat, I think they were in the middle of the sea, then I lost her.

‘I am in a very bad state.’   

Migrants in Calais have told MailOnline that they are more determined than ever to reach the UK despite 27 people drowning crossing the Channel yesterday – as people traffickers slashed their prices to fill their deathtrap dinghies to Britain.

People claiming to be from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover with one declaring: ‘We don’t have a life. We want to live like you in the UK’.

Those still willing to risk their lives in rough November seas revealed that their budget boats had also burst off the coast, but they were rescued from French waters before anyone drowned. Yesterday’s tragedy has seen smugglers slash 500 euros off the price of a one-way trip to Kent.

It came as the first picture of the doomed dinghy that deflated just off the coast of France emerged as French police again failed to stop 50 migrants crossing the Channel to Britain yesterday. 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children died yesterday.

Five people have been arrested in France over the 27 deaths, including one man held overnight driving a German-registered vehicle packed with inflatable ribs, although there is ‘no provable link’ with the sinking, according to prosecutors, despite French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin insisting all were ‘directly linked’ to the drownings. 

Thousands of migrants are in the Calais region hoping to get to the UK by Christmas, and speaking in France, a Kurdish computer programmer called Kochar, 25, told MailOnline: ‘It is not going to stop people from wanting to come to England. Everything in life is a risk, and it is worth a big risk to get to England’.

Another Iraqi Kurd called Aram, 41, said: ‘There are some people who will be put off if they think they are going to die, but most people have no choice. We have to try to get to England.

‘I will get on a boat some time. It might be this week or it might be next. I got a call from my friend who told me about the people who had died. I did not know any of them.’

The migrants told how heartless people traffickers have slashed their prices for a place in a boat across by 500 euros since news of the tragedy filtered through to people living in makeshift camps around Grandy-Synthe near Dunkirk.

Those hoping for a new life in the UK told MailOnline that the fare for a place in an open dinghy had been reduced from 2,500 euros to 2,000 euros.

Kochar said: ‘Last week it was costing 2,500 euros to get a place. But last night I heard it had been discounted by 500 euros. It looks like the price has come down because of these people who have died. The people smugglers are worried about losing business – so they want to give a better deal’.

Aram said: ‘I heard that the price had come down. You hear messages from everyone. I am glad it has happened. It is still far too expensive.’

Police in Calais detain a number of migrants wearing lifejackets after removing them from a bus before they tried to cross to the UK

Migrants set up camp on a railway line in Grande-Synthe near Calais today after police smashed their previous camp

He paid 2,500 euros to reach Germany from Kurdistan via the route through Belarus, and another 500 euros to get to France.

MailOnline spoke to another group of half a dozen Iraqi Kurdish migrants who told how they came close to death after their overcrowded inflatable boat sprung a leak in the Channel, and they were pitched into the freezing water

They said they had paid 2,500 euros each to be among 52 passengers crammed into a boat which left a beach near Dunkirk last Friday night.

The group who were standing in a bus shelter to escape the pouring rain outside an Auchan supermarket, said they had spent four hours motoring out to sea before disaster struck in the darkness.

One of them, a student called Ali, 22, mimicked the whistling sound of air escaping as the boat suddenly deflated.

He said: ‘The air came out and we all landed up in the water. It was so cold and we thought we were going to die. Luckily everyone had lifejackets so we floated. We were in the water for around 15 minutes and people were crying out before a French boat rescued us.

‘We had five young children and six women in the boat. It was a very dangerous situation and we were all terrified, but we were brought back here.

‘It is sad that people have died, but now we want to try again. It might be in one day or two days or longer. Right now, the weather is too bad to go.’

The ‘flimsy’ and ‘very frail’ grey inflatable boat was photographed by a lifeboat captain who arrived to find bodies floating in the water off Calais yesterday afternoon in the worst migrant tragedy in Anglo-French history.

Two survivors – an Iraqi and a Somalian – have told police their poorly made dinghy was hit by a container ship, puncturing its thin rubber hull and taking dozens of lives. 

And as Emmanuel Macron was urged to get a grip, French police again failed to stop a group of around asylum seekers crossing the Channel on two boats in choppy conditions this morning. They were brought shivering into a freezing Dover by the RNLI at dawn.

Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies amid claims in Britain that the French have been sitting on their hands as 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children died yesterday.

Boris Johnson, Mr Macron and their ministers are expected to hold more talks today as the Prime Minister insisted that British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs ‘getting away with murder’. 

As relations between the UK and France become increasingly fraught, Macron’s minister in charge of the crisis, Gerald Darmanin, today blamed Britain for the crisis and claimed migrants are promised ‘Eldorado in England’ by people traffickers because of its suite of benefits and ‘attractive’ labour market.

Mr Macron is said to have ignored the renewed offer for help with patrols during his call with the PM last night with the French President, who insists he won’t let the Channel to ‘be turned into a cemetery’, again accused by critics of allowing a bitterness over Brexit for his failure to tackle migrant traffickers.

Speaking on a trip to Croatia this morning, Macron hit back at critics claiming France is not doing enough. He said police have been ‘working day and night’ since the start of the crisis to stop boats – and have ‘never had more’ officers patrolling the coast. He said ‘our mobilisation is total as far as I’m concerned’. 

French interior minister Mr Darmanin is expected to speak to his counterpart, Home Secretary Priti Patel, this afternoon. 

He said: ‘It is Britain’s attractiveness which is to blame, including its labour market. Everybody knows that there are up to 1.2 million clandestine migrants in the UK and English business leaders use that workforce to produce things that are consumed by the English’. 

He told French radio network RTL that the smugglers are ‘criminals, people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children – there were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat… and for a few thousand euros they promise them ‘Eldorado in England’.  

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