Abdalrzaq May, a teenage immigrant standing in freezing temperatures at the entrance to Western Europe says that he only dreams of starting a new life with Britain.
After cutting through razorwire, wading through swamps and dodging gunfire, the man finally made it to Germany.
The hard part is over. Abdalrzaq needs to get a taxi to France’s northern coast. From there, he’ll join thousands of others who cross the Channel in their quest to find the promised land of England.
Germany has emerged as the central point in this great migrant tale. Whatever trials would-be asylum seekers face on their perilous journeys to Europe, one country at least does not seem to cause them much trouble — indeed, it can appear happy to wave them through.
Abdalrzaq May (16 years old) is from Chad and wants to travel to the UK. After travelling through Poland, Belarus and Poland, he now lives in Eisenh-Yttenstadt.
Yesterday’s claim was that this route had been used by at least one survivor of the horrific boat disaster off the French coast.
Mohammed Shekha, 21, a 21-year-old illiterate shepherd hailing from Iraqi Kurdistan had managed to slip into the EU crossing the border from Belarus into Poland. Then he reportedly crossed through Germany into northern France. He was among at least 28 other people who escaped into the EU by crossing into Poland from Belarus. Then he reportedly made his way through Germany to northern France, where he encountered a container ship passing. Only two survivors survived the incident.
In eastern Germany close to the Polish border was where we met Abdalrzaq (16), from Chad.
Pictured: Migration at the border of Belarusian and Polish. Poland reported that in November, hundreds of Belarusian migrants were arriving at its border in an attempt to enter the EU. This was a tactic NATO denounced as deliberate by Minsk
Amazingly, he says he wants to ride a taxi most of his way from northern France to the migrant center.
He says, “Today, tomorrow, I’m headed for London,” “There’s someone who can come to you and take you from here.” [the Eisenhuttenstadt centre]. The migrants spend a few days at the camp before moving on to Germany, Belgium and Britain. It is quite normal.
Majeed Behzad (deputy head, integration council of Frankfurt an der Oder), who is at the Polish border said: “Once migrants arrive in Germany, they don’t need to be smuggled into Germany,”
EU laws do not allow for border checks. Asylum seekers who have arrived in Poland via Belarus can easily travel to Germany using the transport infrastructure. They will then be able to go onwards to Belgium, France, or wherever else they desire.
Mohammed Shekha (21), an unliterate shepherd hailing from Iraqi Kurdistan had managed to slip into the EU after crossing into Poland via Belarus. He then apparently made his way through Germany and northern France.
Mr Shekha joined at least 28 others on a dangerous boat that deflated, reportedly after encountering a passing container ship. Only two of the 28 people aboard perished Wednesday.
Germany has been accused of failing to do enough to deal with the millions of migrants who have rushed through on their westward journey. German authorities will arrest those who have been spotted and bring them to Eisenhuttenstadt camp where they can apply for asylum.
However, they could simply walk out to find a spot on a boat and travel to England.
Abdalrzaq says, “I’ve seen many things here on my travels that will make your hair stand up on end.” The police in Belarus are very helpful. You are told by them: “Go to this point. There is no Polish police officer who can stop you.” The wire is cut and you can climb out at night.
On the day that 27 migrants died in the Channel, the French authorities sold at least seven small boats they had confiscated. Pictured: On November 24, migrants prepare to cross Channel.
‘These are places that are very dangerous and deadly — swamps where you are half-submerged — places where the Polish police dare not come to stop you. We choose to use them for crossing.
Abdalrzaq may have paid traffickers 1,800 km to transport him from his war-torn homeland through northern Africa. He finally reached Saudi Arabia. From there, he flew to Dubai then to Minsk.
Arriving there, he handed a further £3,000 to smugglers to get him to the Polish border, from where he walked into Germany on foot over a bridge at Frankfurt an der Oder.
At a monument to those who died crossing the English Channel, a man holds a sign which reads “Save our Migrant Brothers and Sisters”
Germany provides generous welfare benefits including an allowance for 410 euro per month, extra funds twice a calendar year to purchase new clothes, but local officials think that most migrants are now trying to leave Germany. This is in contrast with those who came as part of mass migration 2015, which often stayed.
“My impression is that they want to continue their lives,” said Frankfurt an der Oder’s town hall representative. “They can move about freely, as we Germans.”
All this is far from what they went through to reach their destination. We are told by migrants that they have seen bodies spread across eastern forests. These were victims of starvation, freezing and other conditions.
We could hear the wolves. Abdalrzaq says that he witnessed things at the Belarus-Polish border and will not forget them. “My skin is rashes due to the cold and water. They won’t function: My legs aren’t working. I’m really concerned about my legs, but no one at the camp offers any medical care.
He is still too traumatized by the events in his home country to understand why he left. He says, ‘I don’t talk about Chad.’ “It was bad.
After all this, why would he risk his life to get on a boat to British soil again?
Abdalrzaq says, “Here in Germany officials treat us with no respect.” They segregate us during mealtimes. They took my phone and won’t return it. My family is not able to contact me.
Defiantly, he says: “I want go to Britain.” It is better there — and I want to see Chelsea football team play. Your country has a lot more kindness than mine.
Just hours after 40 other migrants launched dinghies out of France, police spotted 27 drowning in Channel trying to cross from France into the UK. Photographed in a dinghy only for illustration purposes
Most likely, some of those drowned migrants who were on an inflatable and went down in Channel water on Wednesday may have passed through this centre just days before. Abdalrzaq hasn’t been discouraged by the tragedy.
He insists, “This life is one-time, it’s just one chance, it’s only once around.” After seeing the horrors in Poland and Belarus, it is time to take a chance.
Musa (17 years old) is an Iraqi teenager who crossed into Poland three weeks ago from Belarus. Later, he made his way to Germany.
Musa is currently living in the camp together with his mother, five brothers and six sisters.
They were all able to get across the border without any problems thanks to traffickers for whom they had paid a large sum. Musa said, “We are aware that the UK has been kind to us and there is a lot more people who travel from Germany.”
They leave this camp. I saw them. They may be followed by us. . . My father will make the final decision.
This was the view that was repeated at a bus stop along the street, where several migrants from camps were making their way to town.
Many nationalities, such as Armenians of Albanian, Syrian, Afghan, Syrian, Afghan, and Nigerian origin, were waiting. The one who was pregnant pushed her three-week old baby girl around in a stroller. The stop was run by a Turkish mother who had seven children. Her youngest child, however, was just four months.
At the bus stop, all English-speaking migrants agreed Britain was their favourite destination.
One Albanian immigrant explained that they could either stay in Germany or move on to France. “We do not have to remain here.” It’s not locked.
Germany received 1.5 million migrants six years ago at Angela Merkel’s invitation. She wanted to assist Syrians fleeing civil war.
Since then Germany has had a change in its attitude towards migrants. Many migrants who came to Germany during those tumultuous days pretending they were Syrians. The authorities now send these people back to Syria, South Asia, Turkey, or the Balkans.
Many have been taken from their bed by police and frogmarched into airports. Because many do not want to travel home again, they are frequently handcuffed on the plane to avoid any violent protests. Pro-migrant activists and immigration officers have documented such unsavory incidents.
This sharp change in national sentiment is one reason why Germany is now so happy to see migrants from the east heading straight for France and the UK — by taxi if necessary.
Hadi is an Iranian national who arrived in Germany from Poland and Belarus two weeks before Musa. He claims that he was transferred to a Hanover processing camp by German immigration officers.
“I did not want to remain,” the 44-year old tells us via phone, from France where he waits for a boat. I told them and they just said “Go!” They said goodbye.
The train took him from Aachen to Aachen on the Belgian border. He claims that there was no question about him being on the train. “In Aachen I took a bus to [the Belgian capital]Brussels to Dunkirk. The process took 6 hours, and it was very easy.
Ali claims that the train through Germany was packed and buses going to North France with migrants were jammed. “Everyone would like to visit England, even if it meant taking a risky boat. The Germans would be happy to let us go.
A uniformed official from the railway stands on the forecourt of Aachen to confirm that migrants are using trains to reach Belgium and France in search for work.
He says that the trains are full when they leave Germany. They also take the bus out of Aachen. Every day, the numbers grow.