Migrants don't fear the Rwanda plan and more people are crossing the Channel

Not everyone knows of the government’s Rwanda plans, and those who have don’t see it as a deterrent, ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports from Calais

Since first light we’ve watched a cagey game of cat and mouse play out before us.

Along the seawall, we can see groups of young men - migrants hoping to catch a boat across the channel.

Ranged against them on the shoreline, police zip back and forth in beach buggies, searchlights trained across the sands.

Just off the coast, a boat from the Gendarmerie nationle, one of France's national law enforcement branches, ploughs past.

A little later, and not far from here, police seize four inflatables and arrest two suspected smugglers.

They tell us it’s been a good day for them.

But there are many miles of sand and dunes, and most mornings when the weather is good the smugglers succeed.

On Wednesday, some 514 migrants made it across the channel – the highest number on a single day this year, according to provisional figures from the Home Office.

"Yesterday was very difficult, but today we won the battle," Commissioner Mathilde Potel, who heads the police operation against the people traffickers, said.

Credit: ITV News

Her force is much amplified, in part by British taxpayers.

She has 800 officers under her command but sometimes they can be overwhelmed.

"We face hostility from the migrants," she told us. "It’s the smugglers who incite them to fight the police to stop the interception of the boats.

"In one spot you can have three or four officers confronted by 50 to 100 migrants."

She won’t be drawn on British plans to send migrants to Rwanda beyond observing: "Our mission is also to explain to the migrants what awaits them across the channel and to explain it’s not as rosy as they’ve been told it is by the smugglers."

‘’A lot of people are very scared. They do not feel Rwanda is a safe country for them to be in,’’ Imogen Hardman from refugee charity Care4Calais told ITV News

In the migrant camps where desolate souls shelter under sheets of plastic, it has been a long, hard winter.

But the weather has changed for the better.

The sailing season’s begun, and a young man called Hamad tells us he has a brother waiting for him in London who made the crossing last year.

Not everyone here knows of the government’s Rwanda plans, and those who have don’t see it as a deterrent.

Alhafiz was a medical student back in Sudan but he fled the war there and is determined to reach the UK.

"Rwanda is a bad country," he told us. "How can I work there, or study? How can I live there?

"As long as there is a chance to go to England I will try. It is so close."

Imogen Hardman from refugee charity Care4Calais has been working with migrants here for four years.

She says many migrants falsely believe that if they can get to the UK before the bill becomes law they’ll be safe.

"A lot of people are very scared. They do not feel Rwanda is a safe country for them to be in," she said.

"We also hear people get a lot misinformation, that they have to be in the UK before a certain date. And that is causing them to take greater and greater risks to get to the UK."

At best, the government can hope to sent a few hundred migrants to Rwanda in the early part of the scheme.

Four thousand have already made the crossing this year. And those who failed today, will try again tomorrow.

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