Families in Dunkirk camp describe fleeing violence in search of safer life

Families in Dunkirk camp describe fleeing violence in search of safer life

Many of the families living in the Dunkirk camp describe how they were forced to flee violence and are trying to take their children to the UK to give them a safer life.

Ceramic craftsman Handren Qader, 32, is in the camp with his wife Xalat, 26, and their eight-year-old son Kajhan, his autistic brother Aran, six, and two-year-old daughter Yaran.

Mr Qader, a Kurd, told the PA news agency he has two brothers and a sister living in Derby, Stoke and Leeds, who he wants to be reunited with after fleeing Isis bombings in Iraq.

Farhad Salah, his wife Lanja, and their three-year-old daughter Tina (Steve Parsons/PA)
Farhad Salah, his wife Lanja, and their three-year-old daughter Tina (Steve Parsons/PA)

But he has been told he needs to stump up 6,000 euro (£5,374) for his family to get a boat crossing.

He said: “My life was so very dangerous. We had to get out.

“I want to go to live with my family and have a life together and get work. I want a better life for my children.”

They left Iraq in 2015 and have been in Europe ever since, living in the camp for about a month.

“People spoke about the camp and this is how we knew where to go. But we need to leave. Every day the children are sick.”

Aran Quader and his sister Yaran at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym in Dunkirk (Steve Parsons/PA)
Aran Quader and his sister Yaran at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym in Dunkirk (Steve Parsons/PA)

Teacher Ali Mahmood, 40, left Iraq about a month ago and has been in the camp three days with his wife Suze, 35, son Lwyan, six, and two-year-old daughter Lea.

He wants to follow the legal route and apply for asylum in the UK but is still not sure how he will travel there.

He told PA: “I want to go to the UK because my country is not safe.

“Everybody is trying to leave there. Even though Isis is not there now it is still not safe.

“I’ve come here (to the camp) because I have no money to try to go to the UK yet.

“It’s my dream to be there. They have many cultures in the UK.

“I hope I can continue to be a teacher there.”

One group of families said they tried to travel on Tuesday, but had to abandon the attempt when their boat sank and the motor failed.

A Kurdish Iraqi named Karwan said his three-year-old daughter became engulfed by water when it flooded the sinking boat and it got into her lungs.

He is trying to find a doctor for her.

His friend, a 44-year-old Iraqi who asked not to be identified, told PA the incident took place while a group of four boats attempted to make the crossing from a beach near Calais in the early hours of the morning.

Tents at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym in Dunkirk (Steve Parsons/PA)
Tents at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym in Dunkirk (Steve Parsons/PA)

Three of the boats, carrying 70 people, left the shore while the final one, carrying 20 more people, was left behind.

He said: “There were lots of children.

“We had to walk for an hour and then stay by the sea for two hours before the crossing.

“There are people in the camp asking who wants to go on a boat.

“They are charging 4,000 euro (£3,583) per family for a boat trip and about 800 (£717) for one person.

“Sometimes they are letting the families pay less if they don’t have enough money.

“I’m not sure I will try to go again by boat. It’s too dangerous.

A campfire at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym in Dunkirk (Steve Parsons/PA)
A campfire at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym in Dunkirk (Steve Parsons/PA)

“But we think it’s the only way. I’m not really sure about trying again.”

He is at the camp with his wife and three children, two sons aged 13 and 11 and a four-year-old daughter.

He left Iraq two years ago and the family initially tried to get asylum in Greece but were unsuccessful.

“We are just looking for a better life. I have been to England before and I know it will be better there.”

A Kurdish family who fled Iraq and were rescued from a dinghy in the Channel live on TV said they will attempt the crossing again.

Farhad Salah, 30, his wife Lanja, 29, and their three-year-old daughter Tina, were filmed as they arrived on the UK coast last year.

They said they were taken to Bolton, where they lived for eight months while waiting to hear from immigration about the result of their asylum application.

But they were deported to Italy and have now made their way back to France in a bid to try to get to the UK again.

Mr Salah said his daughter was “terrified” during the crossing when they were faced with stormy conditions, and they were all scared, but it was imperative they made it to the UK.

They are selling beans rehydrated in large pots of water around the camp in a bid to raise the thousands they need to pay smugglers for another crossing.

- Press Association

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