THEY dreamed of returning home with stories of a new life in England but they were wrapped in shrouds instead.
In the high mountains of Kurdistan, mother Khazal Hussein and her children Hadiya, 22, Mubin, 16, and Hasty, 7, were laid to rest on Posthumous Gift Day in the English Channel.
They are four victims of a dangerous human cargo operation that last year claimed 44 lives but continues to attract the reckless and brave in their race.
More than 28,000 people crossed by small boat last year – triple by 2020
Heartbroken husband and father Rzgar Hussein, 58, told The Sun: “I feel like I’ve fulfilled my life.”
The policeman, who sold the family home and took out a loan to cover the £32,000 cost of their journey, said tearfully: “They don’t see a future here. Every father wants a good life for their children.
“That’s why I let them go. I sold my house to send them to the UK”.
That dream ended with his loved ones stomping across the frozen Channel, desperately trying to keep their heads above the waves.
Their dinghy deflated, its engine stalled, and Khazal had to cling to her children in its ruins along with about 30 other migrants.
As hypothermia and exhaustion set in, Mubin called the British and French authorities, trying to keep his phone above the water.
A confident and articulate teenager, I discovered that a week earlier his English was satisfactory.
Meeting amid the devastation of the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk, France, Mubin acts as a translator for his family.
Khazal, 46, a smiling and welcoming woman, said through Mubin: “All we want is a life.”
I met them on November 17 when they set up their tents in a marshy field with no running water or sanitation after a police raid.
Wrapped in scarves and beanie hats, they seemed hopeful despite the dire conditions.
They happily chatted and posed for photos, Mubin and Hadiya wanted to test their English level by saving some blankets, pans and meager food in an old shopping cart.
They had left the remote town of Darbandikhan, home to 45,500 people, in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, to move with relatives to Birmingham.
Traveling by boat from Turkey to Italy, they arrived at the camp in November.
We were terrified of the boat’s journey. It’s dangerous on the boat, but we have to go.
Chatty Mubin wants to be a barber.
“We were scared about the boat journey,” he said. It’s dangerous on the boat, but we have to go.”
Her sister Hadiya, 22, an art student, told me she wanted to be an actress, adding: “In Iraq, we don’t have money. We just want a good life.”
Little Hasty, wearing a pink kitten hat and winter overalls, giggled as he played as if on a camping trip.
I snap my phone as she swings over the family tent.
She knew nothing of the dangers ahead.
Kazhal asked the children to come along to finish setting up the tent when night fell and the temperature dropped.
After our interview, I went to a nearby supermarket and bought them bread, snacks, chocolate, and water.
I shared a joke with Mubin after he said he believes the weather in the UK will be better.
Then he spells out the family’s last name in neat biro on the back of my notebook.
Every father wants a good life for their children. That’s why I let them go. I sold my house to send them to England.
Farewell, I asked them to contact me after arriving in the UK.
Less than a week later, this delightful young family set off for Britain, placing themselves in the hands of human smugglers to cross one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
As dusk fell on 23 November, they joined about 30 others in a pre-arranged bus for the ten-minute journey to Loon-Plage on the coast between Dunkirk and Calais.
A 33ft dinghy with an outboard engine used by the group was hidden in the dunes by the smugglers.
At 8 p.m., Hadiya texted Rzgar in Iraq: “Dad, we’re leaving in 5 minutes. Everyone is on the boat. Dad, we’re going inside. “
The smugglers, adept at evading patrols, were out at 10pm.
The dinghy, designed to hold no more than 20 people, plunged into the vibrant waters.
At 10:50 a.m., Pshtiwan Rasul Farka, 18, sent a voice message home: “How are you? Your brother and everyone with me, we are safe and sound at sea. We hope we get there safely and soon, God willing.”
But the overloaded boat slowed progress what another group of migrants that night described as “big waves and stormy weather”.
When they reached the middle of the Canal, the dinghy began to deflate and refuel.
The phone fell into the water and people started dying. No one came. We were in the sea for ten hours. I was exhausted.
Mohammed Isa Omar
Survivor Mohammed Shekha Ahmad, 21, later told Iraq’s Rudaw TV station: “The right side of the boat lost air. Some people are pumping air into it and others are pushing water out of the boat. “
Mubin and another passenger made frantic SOS calls.
Mohammed, who wanted to go to Britain so he could pay for his sick sister’s medical care, added: “We called the French police and said: ‘Help us, our pump has stopped working. move’.
“We sent our position to the French police and they said, ‘You are in British waters’. We called you. They said, ‘Call the French police’.
“Two people are calling. One calls France and the other calls England.
The British police did not help us and the French police said, ‘You are in British waters, we cannot come’. “
At 2:30 a.m., the boat sank. Mohammed said he was haunted by screams, “God, save us!
Another survivor, 28-year-old Mohammed Isa Omar, from Somalia, told Rudaw: “Most of the calls are to the UK for help.
They say, ‘Send us your location’. But we didn’t have time and the phone fell into the water, and people started dying. No one came. We were in the sea for ten hours. I was exhausted.”
He was adamant about the dinghy that brought it in British waters.
Seeing so many dead people next to us was like a horror movie.
The last phone contact was a voice message from Shakar Ali Pirot sent at 3.42am, telling the family he wasn’t sure who would come to their rescue.
At 4:14, his phone is not connected to the network.
At 9 a.m., another migrant boat discovered the body in the water and called the French authorities.
One migrant said: “I saw bodies without life jackets and others brought the worst kind, very cheap.”
At 3 p.m., a French fishing boat discovered more than a dozen bodies and raised the alarm.
Fisherman Karl Maquinghen, 37, said: ‘Seeing so many dead next to us was like a horror movie.
He said many life jackets are not tied properly.
At least 30 people died, the biggest loss of life in the Channel since the dinghy began.
We sent our location to the French police and they said, ‘You are in British waters’. We called you. They said, ‘Call the French police’.
Mohammed Shekha Ahmad
France has refused to accept distress calls from the boat.
But Le Monde newspaper said the phone records of the survivors supported the claims the French and British had been in contact with.
BBC World Service analysis indicates that the migrant boat came close to British waters but never entered those waters.
States are generally responsible for rescue in their waters.
The Maritime & Coast Guard told The Sun that an investigation was ongoing, adding that on the day of the tragedy it received more than 90 warnings, including 999 calls, from the Channel.
A spokesman said: “Every call is answered, assessed and acted upon, including prompt deployment of search and rescue resources.
“In no case did we ask someone to phone the French authorities instead of us.”
Legal lawsuits have been launched against British and French authorities, while relatives are demanding an independent public investigation.
Rzgar said he was “looking forward to a brighter future” for his children.
Instead, he bury them – young lives wasted amid political failures and criminal greed.
- Additional reporting: Nechirvan Mando
https://www.thesun.ie/news/8190889/kurdistan-migrants-father-children-english-channel/ Every father wants a good life for their children