Kurdish family missing after the English Channel disaster

A Kurdish family of four has been missing since the November 24 boat disaster in the English Channel. Rizgar Hussein, who is looking for his wife and three children, reports that they fled the terrible conditions in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq).

On November 24, at least 27 migrants drowned while trying to cross the English Channel from France to the UK. Since then, Kajal Hüseyin (45), daughter Hadia (22), son Mobin (16) and daughter Hesty (7) have been missing. They had left South Kurdistan four months ago and arrived in Italy via Turkey, Greece and finally by sea. There they lived in a camp for three weeks. Then they went to northern France and were also housed in a camp there. The father of the family, Rizgar Hussein, stayed in South Kurdistan and made daily phone calls to his relatives.

The family tried to cross the English Channel three times without success. The first time they were stopped by the French police, the second time the boat ran out of fuel and they had to turn back, the third time the engine of the boat was broken and they were towed back by the police.

Shortly before the accident, Rizgar Hussein spoke to his daughter Hadia on the phone for the last time. As he told the BBC, she called him from northern France to tell him she was boarding a boat with her mother, sister and brother. The father recaled, "She said, 'Dad, we're leaving in five minutes, now everybody gets on the boat.’ I said, ‘Okay, be careful.’”

“I just want to know if they’re dead”

The man has heard nothing from his family since. The following day, he learned from the news of the death of 27 people trying to reach Britain. "I'm waiting for any news now, from anyone. I just want to know if they are alive or dead. I can't do anything. I can't eat or sleep ... I'm starting to feel crazy. No one can comfort me," he said.

This makes Rizgar Hussein one of many Kurdish families who fear that their relatives are among the dead. Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, a 24-year-old from southern Kurdistan, is so far the only person whose identity has been confirmed as a victim of the accident.

"No one is doing well here"

Rizgar Hussein himself is a police officer and feared losing his job if he left the country. Therefore, he stayed in South Kurdistan so that the family could make a living. The rest of the family insisted on leaving for Britain. Hussein also wanted to join them after they reached Britain. "Everyone wants to live a good, quiet and peaceful life. Here you can ask anyone between the ages of seven and 80, no one feels good. If the situation was good, people would not leave. Who wants to leave like that? Nobody," he said.