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Monday, October 28, 2019, 15:07
Text message helps police free 15 trapped in container at service area
By China Daily
Monday, October 28, 2019, 15:07 By China Daily

Containers are stacked at the Port of Immingham operated by Associated British Ports (ABP) on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, eastern England, on Oct 5, 2018. (LINDSEY PARNABY / AFP)

In April 2016, a 7-year-old Afghan boy, using a phone given to him by a charity in the French port of Calais, texted a message saying he was running out of "oksijan" - meaning oxygen.

"I need help, driver isn't stopping, no oxygen in the car. No signal, I am in the container. I am not joking," the boy, called Ahmad, texted.

Every night the people smugglers would open a truck container and place groups of 20 to 30 people inside

Jawad Amiri, one of the 15 rescued migrants

He and 14 adults were found in a container at a service station on the M1 motorway in England after arriving from a migrant camp commonly known as "The Calais Jungle".

Police in Leicestershire told the media a group of migrants was freed from a trailer at Leicester Forest East services area in the English Midlands.

Ahmed was carrying a mobile phone given to him by Help Refugees, a small charity working in the camps in northern France.

His elder brother, Jawad Amiri, told the BBC on Wednesday how the group was smuggled into the United Kingdom in the sealed container.

ALSO READ: China seeks joint efforts against human smuggling

Every night the people smugglers would open a truck container and place groups of 20 to 30 people inside, he said.

"They have taken the money, so they don't care if you live or die. Me and my 7-year-old brother Ahmad got inside a refrigerated truck with 13 others. They locked the door behind you, and everybody was scared because you cannot open it from the inside," he said.

Cartons of medicine were inside the container. There was a space of half a meter between the boxes and the roof. The group lay on top of the boxes.

"We couldn't move, sit or stand. It was like a moving grave. It was completely dark and in the beginning it was very cold because it was refrigerated. But then the air conditioning broke down and it got hotter and hotter." Amiri said.

We kept calling out to the driver and banging on the roof. He stopped many times and we hoped he would open the doors, but he did not. He was using very bad language and shouting at us to be quiet."

ALSO READ: British police find 39 dead in truck container, arrest driver

His phone went dead, as the battery had run down. Some of the others had phones, but they did not want to call the police because they were scared they would be sent back.

Ahmad sent a text to Liz Clegg, one of the charity's team members who works in Calais. She was attending an international conference in New York at the time.

The charity called Kent police who, with the help of other agencies and a Pashto-language speaker, spoke to the boy, enabling police to identify and track down the truck. Officers from Leicestershire police opened the trailer and freed those inside.

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