Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Migrants from Iran 'willing to risk everything' to reach the UK

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers

Migrants from Iran say they are willing to risk everything to start new lives in Britain.

The past month has seen a dramatic spike in the number of migrants making risky voyages on dinghies and small boats across the English Channel from France - many of Iranian nationality.

ITV News has visited Calais, where migrants are living in squalid outdoor conditions as they wait for an opportunity to cross to the UK.

One Iranian migrant told ITV News he is hoping to make the journey despite having failed once already when his dinghy, carrying him and seven others, was picked up by the French coastguard in the Channel.

Migrants are sleeping rough as they wait for a chance to reach the UK.

Ahmed is now back in Calais plotting a second attempt, and is willing to risk his life.

"I want to get to the UK because this place is not safe and I can speak English," he told ITV News.

"My sister is living there, so I prefer to go to the UK.

"If I'm alive, not dead, then I'll try. I'll go with a lorry or swim."

Ahmed is trying to get to the UK despite having once failed.
Ahmed's dinghy carrying him and seven others was stopped in the Channel.

Reza is another migrant from Iran who has travelled with his young daughter Miriam - both have their hearts set on the UK.

Reza is too scared to attempt a crossing of the Channel, so now they are stuck in Calais.

They are not willing to claim asylum in France because they think the French government is too close to the Iranian regime, and believe the future will be better in Britain.

"All we need is a home for the children," he told ITV News.

Reza and his daughter Miriam are too scared to attempt a dinghy crossing.

Migrants ITV News have spoken to in the Calais camp roundly reject the idea they are not genuine asylum seekers, a suggestion cited by home secretary Sajid Javid.

They say they have been forced to leave Iran because of religious or political persecution, and they are determined to get to the UK no matter what the risks.

Since ITV News spoke to one group of men in the camp a month ago, each is said to have successfully made it to Britain.

French trawler associations deny fishing vessels are facilitating the crossings.

Businesses which sell dinghies and engines in Calais insist they ask for French ID when purchases are made.

But the businesses told ITV News that there are other ways for migrants to get the necessary equipment.

In recent weeks some migrants have tried stealing fishing boats in order to complete the voyage.

The president of the local trawler association also rejected claims by Tory MP Charlie Elphicke that French fishermen are complicit in migrant vessels reaching the UK.

Patrols of the Channel have been stepped up. Credit: PA

There has been a window of benign weather recently allowing more and more migrants to cross the Channel.

But as winter approaches they know that chance is fading.