Migrant opens camp restaurant to pay for crossing

In the blistering cold, huddled in tents, a group of migrants set up camp along an old rail line in Dunkirk in northern France.

Among them was Dawan Anwar Mahmud and his make-shift restaurant.

The 30-year-old from Iraqi Kurdistan built the stall in just one day using wood from nearby trees and a tarpaulin.

He wanted to earn cash having lost over $2,000 to a smuggler when he first arrived.

But it was a precarious existence.

Reuters interviewed him on Monday. Then, the very next day, the police arrived, evicted the residents, and tore down their shelters.

Before the eviction, Mahmud had this to say:

"Just like you, we are people, too. And cameras and lights are upon us and they see us very well, and people say, 'This is their situation,' and they give a piece of clothing, but we're not here for clothes, we did not come here for clothes, but to live.”

A month ago Mahmud was taken to the coast by another smuggler but backed out after he saw he would be sharing the boat with 47 people.

Last week, a boat of at least 29 people capsized in the Channel between Britain and France and only two survived.

As the route becomes trickier, the price goes up.

"These smugglers in the Channel need to know that there is no work or gain in Kurdistan. They are scattered, and they take our money. And if we speak out, we are met with opposition."

The camp was freezing and muddy. The smell was toxic, with people burning bottles and packages to keep warm.

Still, the residents were together and the restaurant was a small source of income.

Mahmud was making between 40 and 70 euros a day and employed two workers.

Attempts by Reuters reporters to reach him by telephone after the eviction on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

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