In Calais, refugees continue to dream of England despite the Rwandan threat

by Pascal Rossignol

CALAIS, Pas-de-Calais, June 18 (Reuters) – In a makeshift refugee camp near Calais, Mohamed, a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurd, is busy making a paper boat. A way to kill time by clinging to his dream: to cross the Channel to start a new life in the United Kingdom.

Reflecting Mohamed’s determination, the British government’s deal with Rwanda to deport asylum seekers to the East African country does not seem to have achieved its goal so far. to discourage crossings between the beaches of northern France and the coasts of south-east England.

While a first flight to Kigali was blocked this week by a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, provoking the fury of London, refugees met in recent days by Reuters assure that nothing will dissuade them from go to the UK.

“I heard that they want to send people back to Africa, to Rwanda. But I don’t care,” said Ahmed, who says he fled Sudan four years ago to avoid being enlisted in the IDF. army, and having arrived in Calais seven months ago after traveling through Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Spain and France.

“I don’t want to worry about that. One day I will go to England. If after that they send me to Rwanda, I will see another place. I don’t know. I did the impossible to get here. What more can I do?”


A member of the Care4Calais association, Claire Moseley considers it inhuman to want to send back to Africa refugees who have endured the worst suffering to arrive in Europe.

“It’s a situation that worries us a lot, the plan (of the British government) is very brutal. After all they have endured to get here, to find safety, the last thing they want is to be sent back. in Africa,” she said.

With other volunteers, Claire Moseley is now working to explain to candidates for the crossing how to defend themselves if they are arrested when they arrive on British soil.

“We explain to them what their rights are in a detention center, how to contact lawyers… When someone arrives in a foreign country, he does not speak the language, how could he know who to call, how to be help?” she asks.

Tamim Omerzai, a 24-year-old Afghan, admits to being afraid of what awaits him, but more during the crossing than after reaching the British coast.

When asked if he fears being deported to Rwanda, he shrugs his shoulders, he who fled the Taliban regime to join his wife and uncle, refugees in England, where he hopes to resume his business studies.

“I don’t know if they are going to save me or send me to another country. But I want to go there, I want to find my wife,” he said in a soft voice.

(Report by Pascal Rossignol, written by Tangi Salan)

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