On November 24, 2021, 27 refugees died in a shipwreck while trying to cross the English Channel. A year later, things got even worse. He has had 42,000 crossings since January, compared with 28,000 overall last year.
Chafi, from Afghanistan, pitched his tent in a clearing off the Grande Singh camp near Dunkirk (north). The camp can accommodate up to 700 people. The night before departure, Chaffee has to take a small, muddy road surrounded by vegetation. Totally unsanitary living conditions for this young 27-year-old. The drawn face wrapped in a white down jacket made me feel impatience. “I decided to leave, I don’t want to be here, he testifies, However, crossings are weather dependent. I know I’m risking my life, but I’m from Afghanistan so I’m used to it now. ”
>> FRANCEINFO document. ‘Don’t ask, you won’t be saved!’
One year ago, on November 24, 2021, 27 people were killed when a refugee boat trying to cross the Channel to England sank in the open sea. An investigation is underway to understand why no one came to help. A year later, this tragedy does not curb the desire to leave. Conversely, intersections are increasing. Last year overall he was up to 42,000 year-to-date, compared with 28,000.
Weather is no longer an obstacle
Thibaut, a Utopia 56 Association volunteer, advises Chafi when he has a problem at an intersection. He gives her her contact emergency number 112 and her association’s emergency number. Thibaut also asks him to download an application for knowing wave height. “We can check the weather and waves, He said, Anything over 50cm is too big! If less, you can try crossing. ”
A preventive strategy that is not affected by the weather, such as in winter when the water temperature is below 10 degrees. Also, the risk of shipwreck is now greater. Boats are often of poor quality and carry more and more people. “We typically have about 50 people on board now. A couple of months ago we started seeing slightly larger boats, 12 meters, that can hold close to 100 people.observes Alain Le Dagner, president of the Society for Rescue at Sea (SNSM) in Dunkirk, worried. Unfortunately, if an accident happens, the difficulty for us is to recover these people. ”
lack of support
At least 100 police and gendarmes are mobilized on the beach day and night throughout the year. To avoid tragedy, Georges-François Leclerc, Governor of the North and Governor of the Hauts-de-France, insists: “They beat 55% of their crossing attempts, which is similar to last year. Each crossing blocked is a life saved”, he specifies
However, the Utopia 56 Association condemns the support on the grounds of a failed crossing candidate. “We are asking the state to open rooms at night to accommodate people who have experienced trauma in general.said Yann Manzi, co-founder of the association. Every night, volunteers patrol the coast for prevention. Check to see if anyone needs help, especially those who are wet. Also, dry clothing can be distributed, as getting wet in the cold and wind is the biggest danger. ”
The cold settles in the camp near Dunkirk. Kurds warm themselves around a brazier. It is out of the question to spend the winter there. The crossing is just around the corner, they promise.