People-traffickers are using social media to arrange treacherous English Channel migrant crossings.

Gangs raking in thousands of pounds per trip communicate with “customers” on WhatsApp and Facebook .

The smugglers, mostly from Afghanistan and Kurdistan, use cheap, disposable “burner” phones and fake profiles to evade authorities.

An aid worker said: “The smugglers are trying to limit face-to-face time with their ‘customers’. Meeting in person increases the risk of being caught.”

Meanwhile, the desperate people trying to make the journey to England exist in squalid, makeshift camps.

Police clear a migrant camp near Calais
Iranian national Yasser has been living in the woods near Calais

Iranian Yasser, 21, has been living in a tent in woods near Calais for two weeks after travelling across Europe.

The camp was cleared by French riot police armed with tear gas yesterday. Residents were ordered to leave, with many carrying their meagre belongings in bin bags. Officials threw other possessions, including tents into a skip, but the migrants returned afterwards.

Yasser said: “It’s not good here, conditions are bad. I’m going to cross soon because the weather is changing. I’m scared but there’s no other way. For £4,000 they guarantee you get across. I don’t know which beach I will go from, I think they only tell you a few hours before the crossing.”

British detectives have been working with their French counterparts in a bid to smash the trafficking gangs.

But with most deals done through shadowy middlemen in the migrants’ home countries, they face a losing battle.

Crossings begin under cover of darkness, with locations shrouded in secrecy.

Police and migrants at a camp near Calais, where many people are seeking a route into the UK

The aid worker said: “Smugglers are constantly changing where and when they launch boats – the more crossings they succeed with, the more customers they get. You’re looking at around £7,000 for a family of four to cross on a boat. It’s all done on phone or WhatsApp or Facebook and it’s all very last-minute.

“They are given a location and told to get a taxi there, normally late at night. Then they get another location, normally a 40 or 50-minute walk from where the taxi drops them.”

He said the ruthless gang bosses are “safe in Afghanistan or Iraq” and don’t care about the lives of those they ship.

“Only the more expensive smugglers give them life-jackets,” the worker added. “Most have nothing at all.”

After the raid on Yasser’s camp charities signed an open letter calling on the French authorities to end the “atrocious” policy of evictions.

Police clear a migrant camp near Calais, where migrants seeking to get to the UK. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday September 13, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Migrants. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Migrants are staying in tents at the makeshift camp

But another site, housing around 1,000 men, women and children, is due to be cleared in Dunkirk on Tuesday.

Handren Qader, 32, lives there in a tent with his wife Xalat, 26, and children, Kahan, eight, Aran, six, Yaran, two. The family fled Kirkuk, Iraq, four years ago and reached Dunkirk last month.

Handren’s sister runs a hairdressers in Stoke, while his two taxi-driver brothers live in Leeds and Derby.

He said: “I just want to be with my family and work like them. I’m desperate.

“My middle son, Aran, is deaf and mute. He has problems with his brain and shouldn’t be living in a tent.

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“When we left Iraq we were told we could get into the UK in a lorry. Now it’s only by boat, which is very scary but we cannot stay in these conditions.”

Care4Calais has called on the UK to provide “safe legal routes” for migrants, saying it would stop the smugglers.

On Tuesday, at least 86 men, women and children crossed the Channel, thought to be the most in a single day.

More than 1,000 are believed to have been taken in by UK officials this year.

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.