I entered Belarus on a tourist visa and after a 1,000 mile journey the end is in sight: Great Britain

“WEAPONS” from Europe’s last dictator on the route of migrants from Belarus, Sandar Ahmed has finally reached the banks of the English Channel.

As an ignorant pawn in a deadly game of geopolitics, the Iraqi was lured to the Eastern European nation on a tourist visa before being pushed across the EU border as part of a sinister “hybrid war”.


Sandar Ahmed moved from Iraq to Belarus across a tourist border and has now made it to FrancePhoto credit: Louis Wood

Sandar, 32, now hoped to be able to stow away on a truck to Great Britain: “Belarusian soldiers took us across the border to Poland – but they used us as a political weapon.”

Sandar, a pitiful human chess piece played by the despot Alexander Lukashenko, fled the violence in Iraq, where he could not find work despite his business studies.

When the sprawling Grande-Synthe migrant camp where he lived was searched by French police, he revealed: “I arrived legally in Belarus on a tourist visa.

“I and other migrants were then taken to the border in minibuses and shown where to wade over the Bug to Poland.

“We were helped by the Belarusian police and military. They stole some people’s money and cell phones. “

Home Secretary Priti Patel admitted just this week that the UK was gripped by an EU-fueled “mass migration crisis”.

Increasingly frustrated, she added: “Let’s not forget that the real problem is that the EU has no border protection at all.”

In fact, Sandar was nowhere near the only migrant on the French coast arriving via Belarus, a 1,000-mile journey covering Poland and Germany.

“No food or water”

I found the Syrian Ahmad Houija – a farmer who originally came from the former capital of the Islamic State of Raqqa – wandering lonely on the streets near the ferry terminal in Calais.

With a wheezing cough, the father who arrived here a month ago said, “Belarus was very, very bad. There was no food or water.

“The Polish border guards told me: ‘Go back to’ [Belarus capital] Minsk. ‘ During the night I cut through the fence and ran through it. “

Now, Ahmad, 36, who wants to join his two sisters living in Glasgow, revealed: “I have spent the last seven years in Lebanon after escaping the war in Syria. My family is still there.

“I had four children, but the little one died. I just want them to be able to go to school. “

Ahmad flew to Minsk from Lebanon after Lukashenko’s regime distributed tourist visas to people from all over the Middle East.

He ran out of money on a rickety rubber dinghy on the British coast on £ 3,700 after spending nearly £ 7,500 to reach Calais.

This week, Ahmad was a spectator in some of the most chaotic scenes I’ve seen in two decades reporting from the French coast.

Despite a payment of £ 54 million to France by the British taxpayer and increasingly tough megaphone diplomacy from the Home Secretary, the well-oiled smuggling networks were in full swing.

On Tuesday, the French police orchestrated a raid on the wretched “New Jungle” camp in Grande-Synthe on the outskirts of Dunkirk.

It housed around 1,500 migrants and was ravaged by smugglers with weapons.

France’s stubborn look was somewhat ruined by the events that played out 45 miles along the coast.

At first light, dozens of migrants stormed in a huge black rubber dinghy from sand dunes onto the beach near Wimereux straight towards a waiting camera team from ITV News.

A cheerful-looking migrant left French soil for the last time, revealing that he had been “seven years in France – five years in prison”.

Then ITV reporter Dan Rivers quietly did a bit in front of the camera when the dinghy rocked in the waves with no police in sight.

The Sun later received footage of three exhausted migrants rowing haphazardly across the canal in a kayak that same morning. It’s unclear whether they made it to the UK.

Decathlon sports shops in the Calais area – including one in Grande-Synthe – have banned the sale of the small boats out of fears that they could end up being used to cross the UK.

In the past three weeks, at least ten men have died trying to cross the English Channel, including two in kayaks, according to The Times newspaper.

A 1990s Kawasaki jet ski – presumably piloted by migrants – even made it into British waters on Monday.

Amid the chaos, more than 24,000 migrants arrived in a small boat this year – almost three times the 8,420 last year.

Last week, 1,185 crossed the English Channel in a single day – but on Wednesday it emerged that only five migrants had been returned to Europe this year.

Immigration Minister Tom Pursglove admitted the situation was “totally unacceptable”.

It puts pressure on Ms. Patel – referred to by some as a potential Tory leader – who allowed herself to be a lucky hostage this week by promising to stop “100 percent” of rubber boat crossings.

Near the old jungle area near Calais, I met a group of middle-class Iranians on the roadside who were discussing the interior minister’s migration policy.

The well-heeled party, including a financial analyst, a pastry chef and a medical equipment seller, say they are Christian converts who have escaped persecution.

Some used Grant’s whiskey and cola in paper cups to toast their escape from the suffocating life in the land of the ayatollahs via Greece.

Almost 30 percent of the migrants who cross the English Channel come from Iran – more than any other nationality.

“We want to work”

Carpenter Milad Koozehgari, 29, said: “We had good jobs in Iran, we are not poor people. We just want freedom of religion.

“My advice to Priti Patel is not to pay the French to stop us, but instead to charge us visas to enter your country. We want to work. “

Further up the coast, migrants have been living in the decaying industrial complex in Grande-Synthe for six months.

Dozens were loaded into coaches and taken to emergency shelters elsewhere on Tuesday. The police arrested 13 suspected people smugglers during the raid.

What remained was a wasteland of piled-up rubbish, abandoned tents and smoldering fires.

Since the destruction of the original jungle near Calais in 2016, there have been regular evictions of migrant camps in Calais and Dunkirk.

Many migrants in Grande-Synthe slipped through the police chain and disappeared into the surrounding bushland.

Still dripping wet from their failed attempt to cross the English Channel, Iraqi Kurds Rawand, 27, and Awez, 24, strode back to the remains of the camp they once called home, still wearing fluorescent life jackets.

Shivering in convulsions, Rawand told me, “We were five hours at sea and two kilometers from English waters when our engine broke. We had to be rescued by the French coast guard. “

They were eventually allowed through the barricade by the police to search the piled rubble for their belongings.

A day later, migrants pitched their tents again in swampy fields and dense forests around the garbage-strewn grounds of New Jungle.

Among them was the 21-year-old Iraqi Kurd Harem, who had taken the Belarusian migrant trail after his flight via Dubai to Minsk.

He pointed to destroyed tents, discarded clothes and rotting baguettes and said: “We lived like monkeys here.”

An accountant who left Iraq because he “couldn’t find a real job” told Harem how corrupt Polish border officials stole 1,050 euros from him to let him into the country.

Now he has no money for his crossing to the UK and says, “I don’t know how to get there.”

The Rzgar family, led by Mama Kazhal, pitched their tent again in the field next to the destroyed New Jungle.

“Our mother is scared”

Hoping to join the family in Birmingham, the 46-year-old and her four children – from Darbandikhan, Iraqi Kurdistan – traveled by boat from Turkey to Italy before arriving at the camp earlier this month.

The youngest daughter, Hasty, seven years old, seemed oblivious to the misery around her, and laughed as she rode with her blankets on a supermarket cart.

The older daughter, Hadya, 22, an art student, said, “We have no money in Iraq. We just want a good life. “

Brother Mubin, 16, said, “Mom is scared of the boat trip and we have no money. 2,500 euros each. We have to borrow it. “

French police ransacked the remains of the camp again on Thursday. Neglected migrant families – their blankets, tents and other meager belongings crammed into trolleys – snaked through traffic on the busy D601.

Tyrant Lukashenko, who claimed victory in the rigged 2020 presidential election, sparked the migrant chaos in retaliation for rounds of EU sanctions.

Last week around 4,000 people in search of a better life were lured to the fortified border of Poland by the strong man’s thugs from Minsk.

They were received by 15,000 Polish soldiers and border guards – and kept families prisoner in an icy and hellish limbo.

35-year-old Iraqi Mahamad Sexo sent me videos of the miserable scenes this week and said, “We are stuck here, there are a lot of children with us.”

The crisis reached its boiling point on Tuesday when Polish troops used tear gas and water cannons to repel migrants trying to break through the border.

Belarus later eased tensions – at least for the time being – by sheltering around a thousand of the border prisoners in a huge warehouse.

Back in Grande-Synthe, Sandar looks for a place to sleep for the night while the temperatures drop.

The downcast Iraqi said: “My advice to other migrants is never to travel through Belarus. It is the wrong way to achieve your dream. “

Sandar started his journey in Iraq and has almost made it to the UK


Sandar started his journey in Iraq and has almost made it to the UK
Migrants brave the treacherous conditions in search of their dream of reaching Britain


Migrants brave the treacherous conditions in search of their dream of reaching Britain
The brave mother Kazhal, 46, with the children Hadya, 22, Mubin, 16, and the seven-year-old Hasty


The brave mother Kazhal, 46, with the children Hadya, 22, Mubin, 16, and the seven-year-old HastyPhoto credit: Louis Wood
Poland and Belarus have seen tensions flare up as migrants attempt to cross the border


Poland and Belarus have seen tensions flare up as migrants attempt to cross the borderPhoto credit: Louis Wood
The British military chief warns “concerned”: “We have to be on our guard” when 600 soldiers are sent to the Russian border

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