A mother and her four children who are believed to have died in the Channel boat tragedy told MailOnline just a week earlier of their dream of starting a new life in the UK.
Iraqi Kurdish mother Kazhal Rzgar, 46, and daughters Hadya, 22, and Hasta, seven, and sons Twana, 19, and Mubin, 16, are feared to be among 27 victims of last Wednesday’s disaster.
MailOnline discovered the family on November 17 as they were scavenging blankets, warm clothing and cooking implements from their former camp after it was shut down by hundreds of French police.
Hasta was also pictured by MailOnline the previous day on November 16 as she excitedly tried on a bright orange lifejacket in the hope that she could get a place to a boat.
Hadya Rzgar, 22, Mubin, 16, Hasta 7, with their mother Kazhal Rzgar (right), the Kurdish family, who lived in Grande-Synth camp in Dunkirk, are missing and feared dead are, they are thought to be among at least 27 migrants who died in last week’s Channel tragedy
MailOnline discovered the family on November 17 as they were scavenging blankets, warm clothing and cooking implements from their former camp after it was shut down by hundreds of French police
Her family were among hundreds of migrants who turned town the chance of claiming asylum in France because they thought it was worth risking their lives to get to the UK.
Kazhal and her children started their journey five-months-ago when she left her policeman husband Rezgar behind in the Kurdish administered area of Iraq so he could join them later.
They paid people smugglers to take them from their home in Darbandikhan to Turkey, and then on a boat to Italy.
The family were smuggled through France and Italy on lorries before they arrived nearly four-weeks-ago at the squalid migrant camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk.
They survived largely on food hand outs from charities who made daily visits to the camp until it was closed down by French police on November 16.
Hasta Rzgar aged 7 after they had to move from Grande Synthe camp Migrants set up camp in the field next to where the Grande Synthe stood
The following day MailOnline found them rummaging through piles of debris to find anything they could use after they got through holes in fencing at the sealed off entrance to the camp.
They piled up items to take away in an old shopping trolley and were later photographed by MailOnline as they pitched their tent in a grass field next door.
In an exclusive interview, Mubin said: ‘We are staying here because we want to come to England. We think England is so nice. You can get a job, go to school and have good weather.’
Mubin admitted that his family had paid ‘so much money’ to people smugglers to reach Europe, but he refused to say how much.
He added: ‘It is hard living here in the cold and rain with no toilets and no money. But when I get to England, I want to go to school and then get a job as a barber.
‘France is good, but my mum doesn’t like France. The language is so hard. English is easier and we have family in Birmingham as well.’
Hasta helps put up tent in after they had to move from Grande Synthe camp
Tensions rise between Britain and France over migrant Channel crossing tragedy
Boris Johnson has told Emmanuel Macron that British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs ‘getting away with murder’ after at least 27 migrants drowned in the deadliest-ever Channel crossing.
Four alleged people smugglers thought to be connected with the disaster were arrested by police north of Dunkirk, near the France-Belgian border, on Wednesday evening after tragedy struck shortly around 2pm.
Five women and a girl were believed to be among the casualties, with the disaster coming just hours of French police sat and watched boats leave their shore.
Meanwhile, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator has dramatically urged France to tear up its migrant treaty with Britain and send asylum-seekers across the Channel as tensions between London and Paris boil over.
Michel Barnier, the former French Europe minister who dreams of unseating Emmanuel Macron at next year’s presidential elections, vowed that he would pull France out of the Treaty of Touquet governing Anglo-French border relations if he wins the ballot.
Under the terms of the agreement struck in 2003, each country has immigration control points at Dover and Calais. Britain is responsible for financing and running security at its border sites in northern France. In return, it is up to France to stop migrants trying to enter the UK illegally.
Paris has complained that, in practice, they are managing the British border with mainland Europe. They have also claimed that the treaty has resulted in huge numbers of migrants setting up campsites – such as the infamous Jungle dismantled in 2016 – at its ports as they attempt to enter Britain.
London has accused the French of failing to stop migrants illegally crossing the Narrow Sea, despite paying Paris £54million in instalments to increase patrols in a bid to curb Channel voyages. France has previously raised the prospect of ending checks on migrants unless Britain backs down in the ongoing post-Brexit dispute over fishing licences.
He said that his family faced borrowing 2,500 euros each to get a place on a boat across the English Channel because they did not have much money left.
Mubin added: ‘It is so dangerous on the boats, but we have to go.’
His sister Hadya, a former art student at a Kurdish university, said in faltering English: ‘In Iraq we have no money and no life. People are not good. Life is good in England. You have a home and everything is good.
‘When I get there, I want to be an artist or an actor in a film’.
Kazhal who speaks no English, said through her son: ‘We just want to come to your country. All we want is a life.’
She and her family used some of their last savings to spend the night in a hotel on November 16 after they were forced to leave the Grand-Synthe camp by police.
The 1,500 migrants at the camp on a piece of abandoned industrial land were given the option by the authorities of claiming asylum in France and being taken to shelters where they would be fed and get a bed.
But only around 400 reportedly accepted the offer, and were put on coaches outside the camp and taken to other cities around France.
Priti Patel, 49, last night launched a defence of her handling of the migrant crisis as she faced pressure from Ministers and MPs
Mubin said he and his family had decided to continue camping in Grand-Synthe rather than give up on their dream of reaching the UK.
Priti Patel was at the centre of a Whitehall blame game last night for doing ‘nothing for two years to stop migrants sailing across the Channel.
The Home Secretary has been ‘privately rebuked’ by Boris Johnson for failing to ‘get a grip’ on the issue in the wake of the drowning tragedy, and there were claims he had lost confidence in Patel.
No 10 denied the rumours.
One official from No10 attacked Ms Patel for ‘doing nothing for two years’, while a cabinet colleague said that she ‘has got to get a grip’.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, the official said: ‘She has overpromised and underdelivered for the past two years. It’s been all mouth and no trousers and everyone, including the PM, is getting fed up of her.’
Another cabinet minister accused her of ‘missing in action’ for interviews to respond to news of the 27 people who drowned on Wednesday.
Tragedy hit the Channel this week when a raft of migrants crossing to Britain sank, killing at least 27 on board including seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children
Hasta, pictured, wearing a life jacket at Grande Synthe migrant camp near Dunkirk Police at Grande Synthe migrant camp near Dunkirk
Hasta, left and Mubin, right. The Grande Synthe where their family lived migrant camp near Dunkirk, France, was closed down by police yesterday
He and his mother and sisters were photographed by MailOnline the day after their eviction as they put up their tent in a corner of a field, alongside dozens of other migrants who had the same idea.
His sister Hasta who was wearing a pink animal hat, cheekily pulled faces and made exaggerated poses as she stretched out the guy ropes.
It is believed that the family were evicted for a second and forced to leave the field within days when they moved to a new camp set up around half a mile away beside a disused railway line and a canal.
The field where they apparently spent a few nights has now been ploughed up to prevent anyone from camping there again.
Speaking from his home In Iraq, Kazhal’s husband Rezgar, told the Observer: ‘My wife and children were unhappy with our life here. They wanted us all to go to the UK.
‘I told them I couldn’t come because of my job as a policeman. I would lose it. They insisted to go so I agreed I would join them if they made it, and if they didn’t, they could come back. I never knew it was risky.’
He said his last contact with his family was around 10pm last Tuesday.
Rezgar added: ‘They said they were about to get on a boat. After that I didn’t hear from them again.’
He added that he still didn’t really know what had happened, telling a reporter: ‘I beg you, tell me if you have any news from them.’
Kurdish migrant, 21, who survived the Channel tragedy that killed 27 couldn’t SWIM but floated in freezing water due to lifejacket
A Kurdish migrant who couldn’t swim survived the Channel tragedy that killed 27 people due to a lifejacket as he revealed to his family that he would attempt the crossing again.
Mohammed Shekha, 21, a shepherd from the Kurdish region of Iran, had been travelling to the UK to find a job to pay for younger sister Fatima’s medical bills, which doctors told them would cost thousands of pounds.
Mohammed sent his mother a voice message at 8.35pm on Tuesday from a migrant camp in France before attempting the crossing.
He said: ‘Mum we are leaving right now. He is saying we have to switch our phones off.
‘It’s not like last time, Ok? We are leaving, God willing. Pray for me.’
Shekha said to his brother Marwan, 18, that the smugglers weren’t sure about the attempt due to poor weather conditions.
Mohammed Sheka, 21 (R), is one of only two migrants to have survived when a rubber dinghy carrying 29 migrants deflated in the English Channel on Wednesday. Pictured left is Mohammed’s sister, Fatima, 18, for whom Mohammed is making the journey to Britain to earn money for medical operations
Marwan told The Sunday Times: ‘It’s a miracle. He can’t swim at all. I don’t know how it happened.’
He added: ‘All of a sudden, he found himself in the water too.
‘He said he can’t stop thinking about the other people who died in front of him. It keeps coming back in his mind. He didn’t know how to rescue the women who fell in.’
Mohammed used a network of smugglers to make his way from Syria to Belarus, then across the border to Poland and Germany, before ending up in Northern France – the final stop before the perilous Channel crossing.
He had attempted a crossing previously, but was hauled back to shore by French border officers.
Mohammed is one of only two people to have survived the Channel tragedy on Wednesday alongside a Somali man named Omar, aged in his 20s, who was taken to a French hospital and treated for hypothermia.