‘I hid in a truck to escape repressive regime’

Refugee Daniel
Refugee Daniel
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There was barely room to breathe in the truck, with dozens of people crammed into the back.

The UN estimates that around a tenth of Eritrea’s population has fled the country, a secretive state with no political elections, no free media and compulsory military service.

“While his English is broken, Daniel’s desperation is clear.

“Life in Eritrea is good,” says the 23-year-old, “but there are political problems.”

Last year, the UN produced a report accusing the Eritrean government of “gross human rights violations”, which “may constitute crimes against humanity”.

Daniel had been a teacher of five- to 10-year-olds, but felt he had to flee the country.

He recalls: “I escaped by lorry from Eritrea to Sudan, because it’s illegal to cross the border during the night-time.

“There were around 75 people in the lorry. It was really bad; it’s difficult without food or water.”

The journey took three days, then Daniel was smuggled into another lorry to travel from Sudan to Libya.

He says: “We spent three days in the Sahara Desert, then I lived in a camp for two months in Libya.

“I lived in a smuggler’s’ house – a big house with 400 other people.

“It was really bad, with a shortage of food, no facilities or medicine.”

Daniel crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a boat with 300 other people, before travelling by bus to Rome, then to Paris and into Calais by train.

He explains: “I wasn’t in a camp in Calais, I was under a tree.

“For two months, without any shelter.

“Then I crossed to the UK in a lorry with three people. I was inside a box inside a lorry, hiding for 10 hours.

“There was no fresh air, it was very hot and sometimes it was cold.

“It was really, really difficult.

“I came to England, and the police brought me to Preston.”

Daniel was arrested when he arrived in the UK last July and interviewed, and he was then moved on to London, Liverpool and, finally, Preston.

He now lives in Ashton, and studies English at college, but faces the possibility of having to return to Eritrea.

He says: “Preston is beautiful, I love it, and it’s friendly.

“I don’t know what happens next, but I would like to stay.

“I’ve finished the interviews. It’s been rejected by the Home Office.

“I don’t know the reason, so I will stay and I will wait. I will have an appointment at court.”