VIDEO – Calais drama: why so many migrants risk their lives to reach England by sea

A provisional toll road lists 27 migrants who died on the Channel, off Calais, while trying to cross to reach the UK. For fifteen years, hundreds of thousands of refugees have passed through this northern French city, often the last stop on migration routes in Europe.

As filmed by a TF1 crew on November 8, the crossings begin at dawn, to avoid police checkpoints. Then about fifty people crowded into makeshift boats, sometimes forcing them to abandon even before the engine started.

The crossings can start from any point of the coast. However, the French beaches are vast. With an extension of 150 kilometers to Belgium, it is impossible for the police to control the entire coast 24 hours a day. “We really need a reinforcement in place and the staff coming from neighboring departments is not enough today and it also endangers the operability in the other departments”, Judge Dominique Le Dourner, national secretary of the police union unit “SGP POLICE FMSI-FO”.

With the arrival of winter, the weather conditions will deteriorate and make the crossings even more dangerous. That is why more migrants are attempting the passage in recent days. Last Friday, the maritime prefecture had registered 31,500 exit attempts towards Great Britain and 7,800 rescued migrants, since the beginning of the year. These crossing attempts would have caused a total of “seven dead or missing” from January 1.

Alex Hodgson

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