“The cruel channel killed them,” says Ali of those who never made it.
The asylum seeker community is yet again reeling from deaths at sea amongst those who try to reach the UK from France by small boat.
Ali, who is from Iran and crossed the Channel in a small boat last year, knows only too well how dangerous a journey it is.
Recounting his own crossing he says: “Every second, every moment we were expecting something bad to happen. Because you’re like a small dot in the middle of nowhere with big ferries and cargo ships. We were so scared.”
He shakes his head with disbelief when we talk about those who lost their lives in this latest Channel tragedy.
“They had hopes and plans for the rest of their lives,” he says.
But when I ask him if asylum seekers understand how dangerous the crossing is he replies: “Of course they understand but when they don’t have any other way it makes them accept the risks of crossing the Channel. They are looking for peace. That’s why they take these huge risks.”
But it’s not the first time Ali is mourning the deaths of fellow asylum seekers.
He was friends with five members of the Kurdish-Iranian Nejad family who perished trying to cross the channel two years ago.
Image: Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six. Pic: Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights He says when they died he was “shocked and just crying”.
“They were a really nice family. I met them in an asylum seeker’s camp in France.
“The mother of the family sent me a voice message and told me all of the smugglers are so bad and they think about only money not humanity. But we don’t have any other way. We need to pay them to cross the Channel to save our lives.”
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Moment migrants rescued from sinking boat Ali says he left Iran because his life was in danger and says he risked his life in search of “freedom”.
The government has pledged to reduce the number of small boat crossings and crackdown on smuggling gangs.
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But campaigners say people are risking their lives because there aren’t enough safe and legal routes for genuine asylum seekers.
Sophie Lucas of Duncan Lewis solicitors said: “It is simply not possible in most circumstances for someone fleeing persecution, or a war-torn country to wait for a fictitious scheme which may or may not come in time to sometimes save their lives or the lives of their families or their loved ones. It is not a compassionate approach.”