Photographer: Sameer Al-Doumy
Title: Death Route
Location: France
Period: 08/2020 - 09/2020
Category: Spot News

Risking the Channel 'death route' to Britain

Britain! After years of trekking through countless countries, weeks in filthy camp on the French coast, seven grueling hours on a small boat tossed about by the Channel, Walid has finally made it. He's managed to cross the so-called "death route".

His friend Falah, though, is still waiting with his two daughters. They illegally try to take the choppy waters of the Channel risking their lives just to arrive in the UK.

Walid, a Kuwaiti, Falah, an Iraqi, and his two daughters, nine-year-old Arwa and 13-year-old Rawane, who is severely diabetic, from the town of Grande-Synthe in northern France to Dover in the south of England via the choppy waters of the Channel.

Just 33 km (21 miles) separates the French coast from the white cliffs of Dover, visible on a clear day, but the crossing is one of the world’s busiest – and most dangerous. Still, more and more people are attempting the risky passage. The number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small inflatable boats has spiraled over the summer of 2020.

According to authorities in northern France, some 6,200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31, 2020, compared with 2,294 migrants for the whole of 2019.

Those who have a bit more cash get an inflatable dinghy. For €3,000 per person, they will board a small rubber boat with a rickety engine. Those who don’t resort to paddleboards, kayaks, or a simple rubber ring.

In November 2021, 31 migrants drowned while trying to cross on an inflatable dinghy.



Waleed L 29 a Kuwaiti migrant and Yaser R a migrant from Iraq wash at a river at a makeshift migrants camp in Dunkirk northern France on September 2 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Migrants clothes dry on trees at a makeshift camp in the outskirts of Calais northern France on August 13 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

A Sudanese migrant gets his hair shaved by a friend at a makeshift camp in the outskirts of Calais northern France on August 15 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Iraqi migrants unplug their phones after being charged at a makeshift camp in Dunkirk northern France on August 16 2020 where volunteers from Care4Calais set up an electricity generator every day for a couple of hours so migrants can charge their mobile phones The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Falah an Iraqi migrant and his daughter Arwa R 10 push a trolley of firewood towards their tent at a makeshift migrants camp in Dunkirk northern France on September 3 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Falah an Iraqi migrant prepares life jackets to be ready for the smuggler s call at any moment in order to cross into Britain at a makeshift migrants camp in Dunkirk northern France on September 10 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Falah an Iraqi migrant hugs his daughter Arwa after getting her ready to be smuggled into Britain at a makeshift migrants camp in Dunkirk northern France on September 10 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Police patrol on the beach of Sangatte northern France to prevent migrants from taking the sea illegally towards the United Kingdom on September 1 2020

A French military ship shines light to search for migrant boats attempting to reach Britain in the English Channel off the northern French coast between Calais and Sangatte on September 1 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Migrants carry a boat before embarking on the beach of Gravelines near Dunkirk northern France on September 22 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiraled over the summer of 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Migrants including families embark on the beach of Gravelines as a ferry of the Danish shipping company DFDS sails in the Channel Manche near Dunkirk northern France on September 22 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiraled over the summer of 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019

Migrants including Walid in a dinghy wearing life jackets illegally cross the English Channel from France to Britain on September 11 2020 The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33 8 km 21 miles at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020 According to authorities in northern France some 6 200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 2020 compared with 2 294 migrants for the whole of 2019