French Police Clear Calais Refugee Camp
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MADELEINE BRAND, Host:
Today, French Police cleared out a camp of migrants near the port city of Calais on the English Channel. The camp was called The Jungle. It had become a big problem for the French government and a point of contention between Britain and France. The migrants were trying to sneak aboard trucks and ferries to England. Eleanor Beardsley visited the camp only hours before it was destroyed.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man: (Foreign Language Spoken)
BEARDSLEY: With news spreading over the past few days that the camp is going to be evacuated, only a couple of hundred migrants remain. They're all men, all tell stories of the fear and misery that sent them so far from home. Twenty- two-year-old Mohammed Khan(ph) was a teacher in Afghanistan. He says that Taliban thought he was NATO agent because he spoke English.
MOHAMMED KAHN: Then the Taliban found my address and they took me. They took my brother. My brother is still missing and that's why I had to leave. I was taken forcely(ph). They wanted to use me as a translator, interpreter. They tortured me like they say we'll cut your nose and ear. They cut my ear a little bit.
BEARDSLEY: Khan paid a smuggler his family's life savings of $15,000 to get to France. The three month journey took him through Turkey, Greece and Italy. Khan says no one gets here for free. But he like the rest of the migrants is still 20 miles and a body of water away from his final destination: Britain.
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BEARDSLEY: At a diesel truck stop next to the port of Calais, British trucker Kevin Medhurst(ph) fills up his rig before driving onto one of the giant ferries to Dover. Despite the border police's use of dogs, heartbeat sensors and CO2 monitors to detect the stowaways breath, Medhurst says, you still have to be vigilant.
KEVIN MEDHURST: I was already in that lorry part there the other week and there was about six of them trying to get on to a Belgian lorry and they got - the driver was asleep. So I shouted out me window and then they - a few years ago, if you shouted at them they used to run away, but now they threaten you by pulling knives on you and all sorts.
BEARDSLEY: Britain is the El Dorado for these migrants for many reasons. Some already speak a little English. Many have family or friends there in large Pashtun communities and nearly all believe there are better asylum and job prospects in Britain.
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BEARDSLEY: Calais aid worker Annie Glaikania(ph) says most of these migrants have already been caught and fingerprinted in Greece.
ANNIE GLAIKANIA: So, they cannot ask us have you been (unintelligible). So what can they do? Accept the money we proposed them to go back to the country and get killed? I think this is very hypocritical and I don't criticize only France. I criticize the whole Europe. There should be something done to be a little bit more human.
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BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Calais, France.
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