MIGRANTS in the New Jungle camp called on the BBC to bring back Gary Lineker last night, as they insisted they were “on his side”.
Afghan Hazrat Nabi Shinwari, 23, told UK Times on Sunday: “We thank him for speaking up for us.
“If he supports us then we’re on his side. I hope he gets his job back.”
Staring at a photo of the Match of the Day host on a mobile phone, Hazrat’s pal Ziaullah Khan, 22, added: “We’re grateful for his support.”
The pair – from Jalabad, eastern Afghanistan – say they’re former soldiers in the Afghan Army who fled their homeland in fear of their lives after the Taliban regained power.
Hazrat added: “My brother Mustapha, who was 25, was killed by the Taliban because he was also in the Afghan army.
“They told him, ‘You are a Muslim and you worked with Christians from the UK and USA armies’.”
They endured a harrowing journey – including 28 hours in a freezing, pitch black shipping container – to reach the Loon-Plage camp from their homeland in February.
Now – undeterred by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s clampdown on small boat crossing announced this week – they say they will head to the UK by dinghy.
Hazrat said: “As soon as the weather is good we will go to the UK, hopefully in three or four days.
“We will join my uncle in Birmingham. We have our Afghan Army identification and will claim asylum.
“The boat will cost £1.000 each. We want to work in a market or a restaurant.”
The former soldier said he appreciates England legend Gary speaking up for him and fellow migrants fleeing to the UK, adding: “He has a warm heart.”
Asked if Mr Sunak’s pledge to ban most asylum claims has put them off coming, Hazrat added: “We can’t go back, our lives would be in danger in Afghanistan.
“So we will take a boat. If it doesn’t work out in Britain then we will go to Ireland.”
Amid cloying mud at the sprawling camp at Loon-Plage near Dunkirk other migrants lent their support to ex-England captain Gary.
Eritrean Geberu, 30, who declined to give his second name, said: “I know Lineker from football – he speaks with compassion and humanity.”
The restaurant worker added with a smile: “Give me his number, can he help me get to Britain?”
The dad-of-four – whose family are in Sudan – said: “If I went back to Eritrea I would be killed or forced to join the army.”
He insisted he hasn’t been deterred by the PM’s clampdown, adding: “I know Rishi Sunak was in France to announce his new policies.
“I hope human rights will be upheld. Britain is a good place to live and find jobs. I will continue my journey.”
Nour Ahmed, 16, from Sudan, said of the tough new asylum plans: “I do respect the decisions of the UK Government but we have suffered a lot in our home countries and our journeys here.”
Of TV host Gary’s Twitter intervention into the Government’s asylum policies, he said: “I appreciate him speaking up for us and thinking of us here.”
The squalid smuggler-plagued camp at Loon-Plage near Dunkirk is the largest on the French coast.
Migrants use it as a waystation to arrange a place on a rickety dinghy to the UK.
Yesterday professional clown Laurence Quetel, in her fifties, entertained migrants as they queued for a lunch of lamb and potatoes handed out by charity volunteers.
Known as Holala, the performer from Eindhoven in the Netherlands said she and two clown colleagues were an “unexpected sight” in the camp.
Laurence – who regularly visits migrant camps to perform – added: “As you can see we make people laugh and being a clown makes me happy too.”
Meanwhile local police say Britain is “wasting its money” building a multi-million pound migrant detention centre in France.
They were astonished when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that up to half-a-billion of taxpayers’ money would be spent on the new facility.
Visiting Paris for a crunch summit with the French on Friday, Mr Sunak said the new detention centre “in Northern France” would help stop small boats crossing the Channel.
But police say such units – which are known as CRAs (Centre for Administrative Retention) in France – are an “unmitigated failure that achieve nothing”.
A senior officer and trade union official who has worked at the Mesnil-Amelot CRA by Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, said: “They are known for riots, suicides, and arson attacks.
“There was a riot inside Mesnil-Amelot last summer, when officers were attacked, mattresses set on fire, and those living inside tried to escape through the roof.
“Human rights groups launched complaints, and refused to allow their agents inside, because they considered it too dangerous.
“Now officials are very scared to send anyone to the centre, so it does nothing to prevent the huge numbers of migrants building up in northern France.”
Another officer told UK Times that Mesnil Amerlot – currently the largest CRA in France – currently holds less than 150 migrants, yet 250 police are guarding them.
More than 45,000 people managed to cross the Channel from France to England via small boats last year alone.
The source said: “It’s hardly a solution to stopping migration. A new one in northern France is not needed – Britain is wasting its money.”
Those caught trying to get across to Britain are seldom sent to such centres.
A source from PAF – the French Border Force – said: “You can’t just lock them all up. Some may be processed for a few hours, but most are left to carry on.
“Officials are always reluctant to send them to the CRAs, which are increasingly reserved for law breakers who are a threat to society.
“That’s why violent criminals end up in them, and cause so many problems. Trying to use the CRAs to solve the overall problem of mass immigration just doesn’t work.”