Syrian refugee escaped 'Jungle' to UK after life-risking trip, reveals brother


A Syrian refugee living in "The Jungle" who won the right to come to Britain in a landmark legal case risked his life making the treacherous journey across Europe to flee the civil war, his brother has said.

A British court yesterday ruled that four young Syrians - three teenagers and a 26-year-old man with severe mental health issues - should immediately be brought across the Channel from the makeshift refugee camp.

British lawyers used human rights legislation to argue that the French authorities should effectively be bypassed and the four young men have their claims for asylum considered here.

The four refugees, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, are expected to leave France and travel to Britain today, where they all have relatives living.

The brother of one of the teenage boys has told how his sibling fled the lethal barrel bombs in Syria and placed his life in the hands of people smugglers in the hope of starting a new life in Europe.

Describing his brother's life in Syria, Ahmed, whose real name the Press Association is not using to protect his brother's identity, said: "My brother was studying and going to school but there was no possibility to continue going to school because to walk on the street was not safe any more, the planes were bombing everywhere, randomly, a barrel bomb could for example be dropped in a school, resulting in the death of all the children there.

"There is no security any more - it is not possible to go out of the house to bring bread. For this reason he decided take the risk to leave."

He joined the millions of Syrians leaving his homeland to embark upon the journey across Europe, travelling with the people smuggler through Turkey and on to other countries whose names he did not even recognise.

Ahmed said: "He didn't know because it was the first time he heard the name of these countries. The important thing was to continue walking with all the others that were fleeing. There were a lot of people walking as well."

But once in France conditions in the refugee camp at Calais were so dire he considered turning back to Syria.

He once told his brother on the phone: "If I stayed in Syria under the bombings and the war it would be better that the life here in the camp The Jungle, in the cold, the illness, in a very difficult situation."

Many refugees have died trying to escape "The Jungle" and make the treacherous crossing over the Channel, hidden in the arch of the wheels of lorries or in fridges.

Ahmed said: "In France you know how difficult the situation is. He was calling me and telling me for example, 'I can't swim, I cannot venture, I don't know how to hide under the lorries as others do' - hiding themselves between the wheels or going inside the lorries and hiding within the merchandise, in the fridges as he saw other people.

"He tried few times, putting himself under risk, and I forbid him to do so, I tell him 'No, there is a legal way to come that a person can follow and stay within the law. This is wrong, it is not good that you try in the same way as others, you are a child and you cannot be hiding for 10 or 15 hours in a fridge for example, with someone that is carrying vegetables to Britain, or hiding between the wheels of a lorry, this is wrong.

"Be patient, God willing we will find a legal way for you to enter, and you can live here safely. You stay here with our family, I hope everything will be better, we just need to be a bit patient."

Ahmed, who lives in London with his wife and two year-old daughter, said he hopes the ruling means his brother "can enter the country and start living a good life".

He added: "We will be here mother and father for him, God bless him."

Ahmed said that he stayed in Syria for three years after the civil war erupted in 2011. But he decided to leave in 2014 after he was pestered by Syrian government forces and other factions to join up and fight.

He said: "I left Syria for this reason, taking the weapons means either you kill or you are killed, and we are against this idea completely - against the principle of these killings and this war.

"To any civil person, this is a war, the important thing is to leave the war, to go to any place that would be safe, leave the war.

"Only a person that would have lived this can explain it, with the words that don't come from the mouth but from the hearts."

He said that life in Britain is a world away from the one he fled - his wife hopes to start studying in college and his daughter will start at nursery.

"So little by little, we are living, in a safe country", he said, adding: "You finally feel yourself a human being, in security and safe."

Ahmed said he hopes people will care about his brother's case.

He said: "He suffered a lot, him and others, after all he is a child and he will not be able to stand more than what he already (has).

"There is no child that would bear to what this child saw."

France: 'Jungle' Migrant Camp Is Partly Demolished