Migrant smuggled himself direct from France to Dublin for fear of being sent to Rwanda if he went to UK

10 May 2024, 16:20

Dublin migrant encampment
Dublin migrant encampment. Picture: LBC

By James Cropper and Kit Heren

An asylum seeker has said he smuggled himself straight from France to Dublin on a container ship out of fear of getting sent to Rwanda if he went to the UK.

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Speaking to LBC from a migrant encampment in Dublin, 20-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker Fawad said he heard of the Rwanda plan while he was in France, after a journey spanning thousands of miles on which several of his friends died.

"Everyone is kind of [scared] - who would want to go to Rwanda?" he asked.

Reports have emerged that migrants are choosing to cross over the border from Northern Ireland to the Republic since the government passed its plan to send asylum seekers who arrived illegally to Rwanda.

And a Syrian asylum seeker told LBC's Tom Swarbrick earlier this week that migrants are choosing to return to France from the UK to avoid being sent to the east African country.

Read more: Rwanda policy will be scrapped 'straight away', Starmer says as Labour leader bats away Natalie Elphicke backlash

Read more: Chancellor brands Labour plan to tackle small boat crossings 'absolute joke' which will 'encourage more people to come'

The Dublin encampment
The Dublin encampment. Picture: LBC
The Dublin migrant encampment
The Dublin migrant encampment. Picture: LBC
The Dublin migrant encampment
The Dublin migrant encampment. Picture: LBC

Fawad said he thought around half of the people in the asylum encampment had come straight from France, with the rest having gone via the UK.

He said: "They came after receiving the letter... they were staying in hotels from government from Home Office... they received the letter through the post office like 'alright, we are sending you to Rwanda next week or after two weeks, so come to this postcode'."

Fawad said that he was initially planning to go to the UK "because everyone tell us that... they will accept your asylum easily.

"But when we finally reached France, so then we came to know on the news through mobile phone, social media, that this thing's going on, like Rwanda news going on, so instead of taking any risks we came straight to Dublin."

Syrian asylum seeker's emotional story with Tom Swarbrick

Fawad said he had spent $8,000 (around £6,400) on a months-long trip from Pakistan to Dublin via Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and several European countries.

The journey required two dangerous boat trips - including one 28-hour stint on a container ship from France to Ireland.

Fawad said he had to try the first boat trip, from Turkey to Europe, several times as initial attempts failed.

"A lot of people die on the way," he said. "Sometimes the boats sink, my five friends died during the journey.

"So it's kind of risky, so risky, like risking your life."

Makeshift asylum seeker encampment removed from Dublin city centre

Fawad also revealed how he had enlisted the help of criminal people smugglers to help him on his journey.

"Honestly there are there are some kinds of guys who... you give them like some bucks, like £3,000, so they will tell you... when the boat is leaving, and they will manage to lead you to a boat, and somehow into to the boat, and somehow they tell you to stay there, go under this thing... stay there."

And he said that he has several more friends who have said they would like to come to Dublin.

Some onlookers have said it is too soon to know the full impact of the Rwanda plan on migrant flows to the UK. No flights have taken off yet, although the first migrants due to be sent to Rwanda have been detained.

Many more asylum seekers have gone to Ireland this year so far, compared to 2023 - prompting protests in Dublin.

The Irish government has said it plans to bring in new laws that allow it to return migrants to the UK.

Matthew Wright quizzes caller on Rwanda being 'generally safe'

But British ministers have said that they will not accept migrants being returned to the UK from Ireland, pointing to the fact that France has said the same thing about returns from Britain.

Two Dublin encampments, including the one where Fawad was staying, have already been broken up by officials, but migrants are said to have simply moved a few hundred metres down the road.

Meanwhile the Rwanda plan could be short lived, if, as expected, Labour take power at the next general election.

Sir Keir Starmer said his Labour government would scrap the Conservative's Rwanda immigration policy "straight away".

He said he wanted to establish a 'border security command' instead, to "tackle this problem at source".

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