SUE REID: Just yards from families holidaying on the French coast, desperate migrants board a dinghy bound for Britain
This desperate scene was played out on a Tuesday morning this summer at a holiday beach packed with sailors and sunworshippers.
Brazenly, with no fear, a traffickers’ black rubber dinghy swoops in 11 yards from the shoreline to pick up 40 waiting, and soaked, migrants desperate to leave France for Britain.
In the frenzy, a hijab-wearing mother is turned away from the packed boat. With her husband, their baby girl in his arms, she is left waist-deep in the sea to wade back to the beach.
Another mother is separated from her two children, aged five and seven. They get on board, leaving her behind, forlornly crying the words: ‘I hope they don’t die.’
A series of dramatic pictures of the boat pick-up were captured by a French photographer at Boulogne-Sur-Mer, 31 miles across the Channel, on July 18.
A traffickers’ black rubber dinghy swoops in 11 yards from the shoreline at Boulogne to pick up 40 waiting, and soaked, migrants desperate to leave France for Britain
They were snapped within hours of the British Government successfully pushing through Parliament its new Migration Bill against opposition from the House of Lords, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, many Labour MPs, and UK charities, all outraged it intends to stop illegally arriving migrants staying in Britain.
The pictures show that traffickers are still at the top of their game. They have not gone away – and perhaps never will while passengers can be drummed up and millions can be made.
They change tactics as quickly as a speedboat turns to outwit the French police.
Today 4,000 migrants of all nationalities, from Turks and Iraqis to Vietnamese and Iranians, wait on the French coast to get to the UK.
They will all have come through safe countries, including France, to get this far.
Once at the coast, the traffickers wind them up into hysteria by telling them the boats are about to be stopped by the British. Many charities tell them much the same story.
These are tired and desperate people whose logic, like lemmings, has disappeared. For, after all, what still sane parent would put their child on a flimsy traffickers’ boat across the busiest waterway in the world?
Care4Calais, the British charity advising migrants in France and Britain on their human rights, says on its website: ‘Every day you hear stories from people of the violence, persecution and suffering they have escaped in their home countries… and their dangerous journeys to reach Europe.’
Under the headline ‘panic and fear now gripping refugees’, it adds that once in France ‘they are ever more scared of what will happen now because of the new UK law. People in northern France are taking even more risks to get to the UK before it is acted on’.
The Boulogne pictures are a case in point. The seaport is 31 miles from the UK, ten miles further than the quicker journey from Calais.
Ignoring the extra dangers of more hours at sea, traffickers have started using it as a launching point to avoid regular police beach patrols further north along the coast.
During the early morning and day of July 18, Boulogne authorities say 17 boats from their area tried to leave for Britain.
Eleven were intercepted by the French, and six, including the taxi dinghy, are said to have reached Dover after rescues at sea by British Border Force.
Migrants sit onboard an inflatable boat before attempting to illegally cross the English Channel to reach Britain, off the coast of Sangatte, northern France, on July 18
Police officers carry out checks on migrants who tried to board the inflatable boat on the beach of Sangatte
One French aid worker is quoted in the local newspaper La Voix du Nord as saying of the taxi boat: ‘In a few seconds, there were 40 on board. Law enforcement was powerless.’
The photographer, Johan Ben Azzouz, explained: ‘When the migrants waited in the water, there was no boat yet there. It arrived, like a taxi, directly by sea. The police do not intervene as soon as the people are off the beach.
‘It is, therefore, less risky for them [the migrants] to run into the water to meet a boat coming in to them. They used to take a small boat hidden in the dunes, and cross the beach with it.’
He confirmed the boat was so heavy with passengers that traffickers running the taxi forced some of them off to return to the beach.
Care4Calais, whose lawyers advised asylum seekers who this week rejected accommodation on the Bibby Stockholm barge moored at Portland in Dorset, seems to believe the horrific sights on the Boulogne beach are the UK’s fault.
Its website is also highlighting the desperation of 20-year-old Ali, a Sudanese migrant waiting in France for a traffickers’ boat.
Without posting a surname or picture, the charity says he has, remarkably, ‘read about the Migration Bill becoming law. He thinks if he goes to the UK he will be imprisoned on a barge, or sent to Rwanda’.
One is tempted to ask why Ali still wants to come with such a fate in store?
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