Channel deaths: Iraqi family fear relative could be among 27 dead

An Iraqi family fear one of their relatives could be among the twenty seven people who died crossing the English Channel.

A man called Shalaw told Sky News his brother was on a boat mid-way to the UK at the same time as the incident on Wednesday.

He said his brother sent a voicemail to say he was crossing but nothing has been heard from him since.

“They were on their way around this time, but we don’t know what happened and whether he is with that group or travelled separately,” Shalaw said at his home in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq.

“Honestly, we are very stressed about any news from my brother because we have not heard from him.

“He is younger than me and I’m worried for him.

“I hope that we can get some news about him as soon as possible and we pray that he has safely arrived in his destination.”

The Kurdish regional government has confirmed to Sky News that Kurds were onboard the boat but are still working on numbers and identities.

Lawk Ghafuri, from the Kurdistan Regional Government, said: “The network of smugglers is really huge and they’re motivating those people to leave.

“The government has done things to prevent this and more is coming as well, it’s started already.”

Mr Ghafuri added that they are “open to any help whether it’s from the EU countries, UK or any other countries”.

“As long as we stop this issue and crisis the KRG to coordinate with any country to stop this migration crisis,” he said.

Many Kurds have fled northern Iraq, Iran and Syria for Europe with Germany, Scandinavia and the UK as the most popular destinations.

Shalaw said he would still consider making the journey himself, regardless of his brother’s fate, and many more Kurds would try too.

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“I believe that if the EU or Britain do not come and listen to the people of Kurdistan then this wave of people will continue,” he said.

“Many people are getting ready and if it is not this month, then in March or April many people will go out of Kurdistan and it could turn into another bad path and more people die.”

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