A migrant camp at Grande Synthe, near Calais | Photo: Dana Alboz / InfoMigrants
A migrant camp at Grande Synthe, near Calais | Photo: Dana Alboz / InfoMigrants

21-year-old Harish from Iraqi Kurdistan has been living in one of the Grande-Synthe camps, near Calais, for 10 days. In the course of just a few weeks of travelling around Europe, Harish has found himself at the heart of the two major hotspots of the migratory crisis, on the Polish border and the French coast.

"I left Iraq with my family last October: my parents and my 17-year-old sister. We flew to Turkey, then took a flight to Minsk. From there we went to the border. I spent two weeks in the forest in Belarus before I could cross into Poland. It was very difficult.

I paid a Belarusian smuggler €7,000 euros for the whole trip from Belarus to Germany. When I arrived in Poland, I did not stop (and ask for asylum). I immediately left for Germany with the help of another person, also Belarusian.

Read more: Germany expects thousands more irregular migrants from Belarus

But I didn't want to stay in Germany. My plan has always been to get to the UK because my older brother lives there.

'The police don't want us to stay'

The rest of my family is still in Belarus. They live in one of the sheds opened by the authorities. They did not cross the border with me because there was a lot of walking to do, it was too complicated for them.

I have been here in Grande-Synthe for 10 days and I have already tried to cross the Channel three times. I heard about the 27 people who died, but I will keep trying to cross. My life is hanging in the balance. Either I get to England or I die.

Read more: French authorities clear migrant camp near Dunkirk

Here, everyone leaves by boat, it is too expensive to travel by truck. Normally, if you pay a good price for the crossing, you get a good boat, but well... you never really know.

I don't want to apply for asylum here in France because I know that, during my application process, I won't have a place to live or any money.

Note: In France, asylum seekers must have access to accommodation while their application is being examined. But the number of accommodation places is limited and only about 50% of asylum seekers are actually given accommodation. On the other hand, all asylum seekers are entitled to the allowance for asylum seekers (ADA), a financial aid paid every month while their application is being examined, the amount of which is increased if they do not have an accommodation place.

And, anyway, the police don't want us to stay. Once I was in the dunes with some other people. We were preparing a boat to leave. A policeman saw us, gave us an hour to finish what we were doing and then told us to get on the boat and leave."


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