People living in camps on the coast of France have said they will “try until they die” to reach the UK.

Around 2,000 migrants are currently living around Calais and Dunkirk awaiting an opportunity to cross the English Channel on board small boats or via lorries.

The defiant message comes despite the Home Office targeting migrants with Facebook ads pleading with them not to make the journey.

One 16-year-old boy from Afghanistan said: “I need to go to the UK. I am ready for anything to try and get there.”

He added: “I will try until I die.”

Record numbers of people have risked their lives to reach Britain in overcrowded and unseaworthy dinghies in 2021.

The crossings have continued despite various attempts by the Home Office to stop them and make the route “unviable”.

This has included spending more than £23,000 on social media ads targeted at migrants living in France between December and April, a Freedom of Information request by the PA news agency revealed.

The ads, featured on Facebook and Instagram feature slogans including “There is no hiding place”, “Don’t put your or your child’s life in danger” and “We will return you” – translated into Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

The Northern Echo: Social media advertising paid for by the Home Office and targeted at migrants (Home Office/PA)Social media advertising paid for by the Home Office and targeted at migrants (Home Office/PA)

Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander for the Home Office, said: “We are seeing an unacceptable rise in dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings.

“The adverts are aimed at dissuading migrants in France and Belgium from making dangerous attempts to enter the UK.

“They have reached thousands of migrants highlighting the risk to life of making these journeys and providing information on claiming asylum in the safe country they are in.”

Many of those targeted by the ads have been assisted by migrant charity Care4Calais, founder Clare Moseley explained how she was “horrified” by the ads.

She said: “I’m genuinely horrified by the lengths this Government will go to to avoid helping desperate people.

“Refugees risk their lives to escape from some of the world’s most dangerous countries, fully aware that this could be the last journey they make.

“It’s extremely naive of this Government to think that social media ads will deter them. This isn’t a choice.”

The Northern Echo: The social media ads warn migrants that they will be returned even if they safely make it to Britain (Home Office/PA)The social media ads warn migrants that they will be returned even if they safely make it to Britain (Home Office/PA)

The PA news agency spoke with migrants waiting for the opportunity to make the journey to the UK.

A 20-year-old Sudanese man said: “I am ready to die, but I still have faith that I will cross OK.”

A 17-year-old boy living in northern France said: “It is not possible to stop us, we can’t stop our journeys now.

“We have seen much worse than this and we have already put our lives at risk so nothing can stop us now.”

Another 20-year-old from Sudan said: “It is their fault for colonising our country. They take our land and our culture.

“British Government have always influenced our lives, the majority of people here are Sudanese.”

A 23-year-old man from Afghanistan added: “We are not here for fun. We have problems in our country, can’t even celebrate Christmas or Eid.

“We will accept these if it means UK. Seen worse than this in Kabul.”

Additional reporting by the PA.