LONDON: A migrant who traveled with a Sudanese refugee who drowned in the English Channel in August has arrived in the UK after risking the same journey again.
Ahmed Fadol Adam, 21, spent five years enslaved in Libya. He used a dinghy with 11 other Sudanese migrants on Sept. 29 to make the journey from France to Britain, The Guardian newspaper reported. It was his fifth attempt to reach the UK.
Following the group’s arrival in Dover, the UK Home Office sent them to the town of Bedford for a five-day detainment period. They were later moved to a London hotel that houses migrants from across the world.
“After my friend’s drowning I nearly gave up, but another friend who lives in Paris convinced me to try again. He told me that France is not a good place for us, and to be honest I saw countless refused cases, including my late friend,” Adam said.
“The dream of reaching the UK just held me. Learning how to swim … helped me to survive. Abdulfatah couldn’t swim.”
During the fateful journey, their boat capsized and his friend Abdulfatah Hamdallah was swept under a strong wave, Adam said.
After the death of his friend, Adam tried to reach the UK four times using different methods. He jumped into trucks in the French city of Calais three times, but left the vehicles after he discovered they were headed in the wrong direction.
Another dinghy attempt also failed “because two guys with me got really exhausted and one was vomiting and the other one was dizzy, so when a French ship neared us we jumped in and went back to Calais,” he added.
Adam left Sudan at the age of 16 after the 2013 conflict in Darfur. He said his time in Libya involved enslavement, which ended when his family paid for him to be freed.
“We were around 49 Sudanese people who were sold by one man to another. I was beaten and my left knee was broken by his bodyguards who were just like us. They had been enslaved and their relatives could not pay for their freedom, so they became bodyguards for the Libyan smugglers. I was lucky. Some others were tortured in a really bad way. They poured oil on their backs,” he said.
“In France and Italy, I met so many generous Arabs and Sudanese people who gave me food for free. I didn’t have money at all throughout my journey,” he said.
“I would love to study music and drama because I want to tell my story and my ordeal through acting.”