Adnan was just 14 when he made up his mind to leave Syria and make his way to Calais – the only chance he had to join his surviving relative, his brother, in the UK. For much of his five months in the Calais “jungle” camp he was entirely alone.

“I knew the situation in the Calais camp was really terrible, but I was desperate to join my brother in the UK and that was the only way I could get to him. My Aunt’s husband was with me to begin with, but he couldn’t deal with the dreadful conditions in the camp and so he went to another European country, and I was left alone for three more months.”

“It was really tough as I could speak only a few words of English and no French which made life even more difficult in the camp as I could not communicate with anyone. It rained a lot when I arrived and I really suffered. I was staying in a tent dripping with water with no heating. Sometimes I slept in the street. I felt very humiliated having no shelter and with the police being violent to us. All I wanted to do was to leave.

Luckily I was in contact with my brother by phone while I was in the jungle and he told me about an organisation helping children stuck in Calais with relatives in the UK. I asked another Syrian and he took me to register my name. Safe Passage UK got me out of Calais just one month later.

I can’t describe how I felt when I first saw my brother again, after two years. At that moment I felt hugely thankful to Safe Passage UK and everyone who had helped me. I started school a month ago here in Manchester and have started to learn English. The main reason I am enjoying it is because the teachers and other students here treat me with so much kindness.

I want to tell the children still in Calais that there is a safe way to come to the UK. Don’t be scared of getting in touch with people who can help or having your fingerprints taken. It is better than risking your life getting here by jumping on a lorry. Trust the people from Safe Passage, because they want to help you.”

FIND OUT ABOUT SAADIA’S JOURNEY TO THE UK

Adnan’s journey to the UK

Saadia left Iraq with her children and husband and his brother’s family. Braving extreme winter temperatures the seven children and their parents made the perilous 1500km journey across the border to Bulgaria to seek refuge.

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JABIR’S JOURNEY TO THE UK

Adnan’s journey to the UK

Jabir and his cousin were just 14 when they were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan to try and reach safety with their Aunt in the UK. Life in the Calais camp was lonely and could be violent but now he is settled at school in England and making new friends.

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TAREK’S JOURNEY TO THE UK

Adnan’s journey to the UK

Sixteen-year-old Tarek travelled from Syria to Calais alone to join his friend and find his Uncle in the UK, leaving his mother and unborn sister behind in Syria. He spent six long months in the camp waiting for a chance to get his passage to safety.

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