Tue, Sep

Afghan Boy Helps Save 15 Migrants Trapped In Container


trucksA text message from a young Afghan boy, written in broken English on a no-frills mobile phone, was frightening enough to set off a frantic, trans-Atlantic search that saved the lives of 15 migrants trapped in a locked truck in Britain.

The message flashed on the phone of volunteer Liz Clegg, who was attending a conference in New York: "I ned halp darivar no stap car no oksijan in the car no signal iam in the cantenar. Iam no jokan valla."

It was written by Ahmed, an Afghan boy of about 7, trying to say: "I need help. The driver won't stop the car. No oxygen in the car. No signal. I'm in a container. I am not joking. I swear to God."

In March, Clegg and others volunteering at a squalid migrant camp in Calais, France, had handed out hundreds of basic mobile phones to children living there, programming in a number for them to text in a crisis.

She knew Ahmed wouldn't text something like that if he wasn't in danger. So she called Tanya Freedman, from the Help Refugees charity in London, to tell her the boy seemed to be suffocating.

Freedman called police in southeast England to tell them of the emergency.

The police response was swift and effective, she said.

Kent Police said in a statement they received a call at 14:50 pm on (13:50 GMT) Thursday reporting that migrants were believed to be in danger in a truck, and that police established the truck was in Leicestershire.

Meanwhile, Tanya Freedman, Help Refugees charity: "I think it's extraordinary that a 7-year old boy had the presence of mind to know that his life was at risk and the others in the truck with him and to know that he had somebody he could connect to and to give the right information so that she responded. I think he saved himself and those other people yesterday."

She added: "There are 129 unaccompanied minors - children - who are unaccounted for right now."

The information was given to police in Leicestershire, who quickly found the truck parked at a highway service station, broke into the back and freed 15 oxygen-starved migrants.

Leicestershire Police said 14 migrants were detained on suspicion of entering Britain illegally, with their cases to be handled by immigration officials, and one man was arrested on suspicion of illegal trafficking.

Police said one child was placed in protective care.