Source: Getty Images/AFP
Those who drowned on Wednesday included 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children, France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin said.
But not everyone has been identified yet.
Advocates have launched a painstaking operation in northern France to establish their names and nationalities and help distant families cope with the uncertainty.
The shipwreck was the deadliest disaster since at least 2018 when migrants began using boats en masse to cross the Channel to England.
“We have no information on the smugglers,” said Mr Amin, speaking from the family home in Soran, a town in Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan, some 3,700 kilometres away from where his daughter died.
“Their promises turned out to be lies.”
Ms Amin, in her 20s, was desperate to join her fiance Karzan who is also from Iraqi Kurdistan, but had settled in Britain.
Mr Karzan was on the phone with her as she set out onto the dangerous waters from France – and was the one who called the family in Iraq to tell them she died, her cousin Kafan Omar said.
Source: Getty Images/AFP
Shortly before she set left France, her father had spoken to her for hours on the phone.
“She was very happy, she was relaxed,” he said. “She was in a hotel in France, we spoke until eight in the morning.”
Migrants undeterred to cross to UK after dinghy capsize
Since the shipwreck, the bodies of the passengers have been held in a morgue in France.
Officially, nothing has been released about the identities and nationalities of those whose lives have been lost.
At a morgue in Lille, Jan Kakar, head of a Paris-based Afghan group, hoped to be allowed in to see if he could identify the bodies of missing migrants.
Eight Afghan families had told him that a son, brother and cousin were on the inflatable boat that went down in circumstances that remain unclear.
“They have brothers or relatives who are in the Calais camps and who have already confirmed they were on it,” he said.
Those sending photos of their loved ones to Mr Kakar were clinging to hope that there had been a mistake, and that their family members had escaped the tragedy.
However, access to the bodies was not granted.
“It will take at least a week, perhaps two,” Samad Akrach said, who runs Tahara, an association that pays for and takes care of the burial of migrants.
Any unidentified body is kept in a temporary vault. If no family member makes a claim within five years, the remains are placed in an ossuary or incinerated.
“We don’t want that to happen,” said Mr Akrach. “We think everyone deserves to be buried with dignity.”
Britain excluded from diplomatic talks over Channel crossings
France is set to host a meeting of European ministers on Sunday to discuss ways to stop migrants crossing the Channel in dinghies, but without Britain, which has been excluded from the talks.
The aim of the meeting is “improving operational cooperation in the fight against people-smuggling because these are international networks which operate in different European countries,” said an aide to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
The main focus was originally set to be talks between Mr Darmanin and his British counterpart Priti Patel after both countries vowed in the immediate aftermath of the mass drownings to cooperate more.
But working more closely would require Paris and London to overcome years of ill-will caused by Britain’s departure from the European Union, as well as often frosty ties between their governments.
Within 48 hours of the boat tragedy, French President Emmanuel Macron had accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “not serious” in unusually personal criticism that pushed relations to fresh lows.
France was irked by Mr Johnson’s initial reaction, which was seen as deflecting blame onto France, and then by his decision to write a letter to Mr Macron which he published in full on his Twitter account before the French leader had received it.
Mr Patel’s invitation to Sunday’s talks was promptly withdrawn, with an aide to Mr Darmanin calling the UK Prime Minister’s public letter “unacceptable”.
Young people urged not to ‘sacrifice their lives to reach Europe’
Back at Ms Amin’s home, around 100 relatives gathered to offer their condolences for her death.
On Saturday, dozens of men, many dressed in traditional Kurdish clothes, sat reciting a prayer.
Close by, under the shelter of a large tent, women in black robes sat in mourning. Ms Amin’s mother was too grief-stricken to speak.
Further inside, Ms Amin’s room was tidy, as if she had just left it.
Above the bed, two photos showed her and her fiance at their engagement. A picture showed the young woman in a traditional dress decorated with embroidery, with a tiara over an elaborate hairstyle.
Her cousin said she had left home nearly a month before.
“She got a work visa and went to Italy, and then to France,” he said. “We had tried many times to send her to Britain to join her fiance, but without success.”
Thousands of migrants – many Kurds from Iraq – have been stuck on the border with Belarus in a bid to cross into the European Union. Some have returned on repatriation flights, battered by their freezing ordeal.
Many of those Iraqis say they have spent their savings, sold valuables and even taken loans to escape economic hardship in Iraq and start a new life.
Kermaj Ezzat, a close relative of Ms Amin’s family, said young people in Iraqi Kurdistan were mainly leaving because of the region’s “instability”. He denounced policies blocking their travel.
“These countries have closed their borders to young people who dream of a better future,” he said.
Ms Amin’s father gave a message to others wanting to head west.
“I call on young people not to emigrate and to endure the difficulties here, rather than sacrifice their lives to reach Europe,” he pleaded.
#Push #identify #migrants #killed #English #Channel #boat #tragedy #families #mourn