As they arrive in the UK, migrants describe perilous Channel crossings.


As they arrive in the UK, migrants describe perilous Channel crossings.

Ali stood on a pebble beach on England’s south coast, freezing and fatigued, but grateful for a “fresh life” after he and 30 other migrants were rescued in the Channel.

The Syrian asylum seeker, from the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, said he and the others, including numerous children, had been stuck in the water between England and France for 12 hours aboard an inflatable boat before being rescued to safety.

On Wednesday, Ali, a 22-year-old man who only revealed his first name, was brought ashore. 27 other migrants on the other side of the bustling Channel were not so fortunate.

Men, women, and children died when their boat capsized in the frigid winter weather, the bloodiest tragedy in the English Channel since UN migration statistics began in 2014.

Ali and the others faced a similar fate when they were forced to use plastic bottles to bail out water that threatened to bury their ship beneath the waves.

“We were afraid because we didn’t know what was going to happen to us,” he told AFP as he disembarked from a rescue craft at the Dungeness lifeboat station in Kent.

“We were on an island in the middle of the ocean. In the boat, there were youngsters. Of course, we were concerned about them, as well as for everyone else.” Ali’s story is becoming all too familiar, one of exploitation and desperation, prompting calls for a crackdown on those who profit from human misery.

He paid?2,000 ($2,664, 2,375 euros) to a people smuggler in France for a spot on a huge rubber dinghy. The price is significantly higher for some.

Even beyond the summer months, migrant boat crossings to England have reached new highs this year.

The use of larger inflatable boats than in past years has been attributed by British officials to the surge in arrivals.

According to individuals who met them in northern France in recent days, Wednesday’s tragedy, which largely included Iraqi Kurds, Iranians, and Afghans, did little to dissuade others from making the same crossing.

The deaths shattered Emmanuel D’Mulbah’s heart in Calais, but he shrugged his shoulders and vowed he would try the trek again when the sea was calmer.

He and 23 others were halted by French authorities earlier this week before they could set sail.

“It’s my dream,” Liberian D’Mulbah stated. “It’s intimidating. I’m terrified. But I’m going to keep going.” Other migrants successfully crossed the maritime border and were carried in from the early hours in Dover, 33 kilometers (20 miles) across the Channel. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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