Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breaking into Britain

I saw this documentary on the BBC last week. "Breaking into Britain" tracks people travelling into Britain from two parts of the world: Afghanistan and Nigeria.

They are people who would not be able to enter the UK legally, so they have to find various means, dealing with shady people, journeying through war zones, and doing whatever they can to get here.

The documentary depicted the ordeal they go through.

People leaving Afghanistan may have to pay a people smuggler several thousand pounds to get them here. The journalist, himself from an Afghan background, met fellow Afghans everywhere he went. They often have to travel via Iran and Turkey, sometimes taking serious risks. Some have no money and no food. Many, having made it into Europe, find themselves stranded in Athens, sleeping rough and relying on charities to feed them and their children.

I guess they did not realise that Greece was in economic meltdown.

Those coming from Nigeria may have started their journeys anywhere on the continent. They travel through the desert to get to Morocco, where they try to get into Italy.

The documentary did not really explain or depict the reasons why these people are so desperate to get into Britain. It mentioned that Afghanistan has been at war for over 30 years, so life is difficult there. And seeing the risks they take shows us how determined they are to get into Britain.

People smugglers often demand sex from the women relying on them to help them get into Europe. A woman from the Congo described how she was raped at knife-point by a smuggler in the middle of the desert.

African people often travel via Niger. The journey through the Sahara is so dangerous that they have to travel in armed convoys.

Again, the documentary did not mention why Niger is so dangerous, although, coming from Congo, the woman, like many others, is seeking to escape an area of conflict.

People travel via overcrowded buses, lorries and boats; climb over fences, and cling to the bottom of lorries. They dodge the authorities and meet with hostility from from locals.

They are looking to find a better life for themselves and their children.

Some of them, however, once reality strikes, just wish they had enough money to go home.

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