Breaking into Britain Panorama

Breaking into Britain

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For centuries, Britain has been a magnet for people from other


countries, who want to make a better life for themselves. Now to


get here, many of these migrants have to breach fortress Europe,


which means taking incredible risks, living penniless on the streets,


suffering great hardships on the way. They have perilous journeys,


many never make it, and those who do can end up in a detention cam np


Europe. What draws them here? What dangers do they face? What barriers


do they encount sner to find out we're sending two reporters to


travel the route most used by illegal immigrants to the UK.


Shoaib Sharifi starts his journey in Afghanistan, hearing the stories


that are rarely told. He follows the Afghan migrants' paths into


Europe, meeting families whose children are forced to sleep rough.


Seeing the reality of these people's lives as they desperately


set their sights on Britain. And Kassim Kayire takes another


journey, across Africa, starting in Nigeria, where he tracks the trade


He follows the migrants to the Sahara, where they cross deserts


surrounded by armed men and suffer unimaginable horror.


And I'll look at how Britain and the rest of Europe are trying to


keep these economic migrants out. Together we're on a journey to


discover just how difficult it is Migration is one of those topics


that's guaranteed to generate strong opinions. We're used to


seeing foreign workers cleaning our offices or looking after the old,


doing jobs we may not want to do ourselves. But do we really welcome


the idea of people come nooing our country? -- coming into our


country? Got to stop. I'll be blunt. People come in this country because


they think they can milk the system. It's probably the only country in


Europe where you get this benefit, that benefit and God know what's


benefit. It's good to have a variety of people. Everybody should


live in harmony together. We're only here for a short time and


enjoy life. Do you think we should let everybody in? No-one more.


one more? No, enough. Too much is here.


We've got too lenient a system. They just disappear. Illegal


immigration they need to be deported, because they have no


right to be here. Too many foreigners, not enough? Too many.


They're taking over country. British people are immigrating


everywhere, Australia, New Zealand, America, everywhere you go, you see


British people. They're welcomed everywhere. We need to welcome


people in England. What do we know about what's driving them here? We


are lucky to live in an affluent part of the world. But for those


who are not, who have no hope in their own country, Britain remains


something of a promised land and Our reporter, Shoaib Sharifi, has


been back to his homeland in Afghanistan to begin a journey of


Afghanistan has been devastated by over 30 years of war and life is


hard. Across the country, the average annual wage is under �300


and life expectancy, just 45. Few people see much of a future here.


Shoaib's family come from a village 20 miles from the capital. Many of


the men he's known since childhood have gone abroad to find work. Last


year 20 of them died trying to get to Europe illegally. Yet the young


are still leaving in their thousands. I'm on my way to meet a


father of seven who lives in this Kabul neighbourhood. He's sending


He's telling me that he is aware of the risks involved sending his son


to go through many countries illegally in order to reach the UK,


but he says, it's like a gamble. He's gambling on his son.


Fakhrudin's 18-year-old son, Sear, has lived at home with his parents


all his life. Sear knows the road Sear wouldn't be able to get a visa


to enter Britain legally. He and others like him, will have to


travel on an illegal trail. But why do they want to go? Shoaib


meets a group of university graduates and the answer soon


The number of people leaving has made people smuggling into one of


Afghanistan's few growth industries. For the first step of their journey,


Shoaib and the graduates head for a Kabul market, where they've heard


it's easy to find a smuggler. And The smuggler can organise a journey


from here to London for around �8,000 per person. For an Afghan,


that price means selling land or property. But if you haven't got


any, you're forced to go it alone. It's 1am and I'm on my way to a bus


station South West of Kabul, just Buses filled with passengers leave


Kabul every night, heading 400 miles west to the town that's


border Iran. This is the bus. They call it the boat bus because most


of the passengers are young Afghans aiming to leave the country in


24 hours a day buses and trucks pour out of Kabul, taking migrants


on the first leg of their journey. This is the border between


Afghanistan and Iran. It's heavily policed. Many would-be migrants are


caught, some hidden in lorries, others on foot. The ones that do


manage to slip through illegally, face journeys of thousands of miles


over hostile terrain that can take years. Shoaib will follow their


routes, meeting migrants at the key moments of their incredible


journeys towards Britain. The other popular starting point


for migrants is Africa. The majority of African migrants trying


to get into Britain come from Nigeria. Kassim Kayire has come to


Lagos to investigate the route that many are choosing to take. Their


journeys often start with fake Kassim is a British passport holder,


but he wants to see how easy it is to get a Nigerian passport, that he


has no right to. I've heard that in Nigeria anything


is possible. If I wanted a passport, visa, bus certificate, even


immunisation card, I would be able to get it. Things can be done, all


you need is your money. Today, I'm going to the Passport Office to see


whether I can get a passport. I'm not Nigerian, but I'm going to see


how I can get a passport, how quickly I can get it and how much


it will cost me. Kassim's driver, Abiola, tells him there are


officials working at the Nigerian Passport Office, who'd be willing


to sell him a passport. When you say an immigration officer, is it


someone officially working in the immigration office or another


Middle Man for another official inside the Passport Office? Well,


they might be a Middle Man, but he is actually an immigration office


who works for the federal government that works at the


Passport Office. We head down town to the Passport Office. What I'm


about to do is illegal. So I switch it a hidden camera.


Once I'm through the gates, it doesn't take long for a uniformed


immigration officer to offer his help. It seems extraordinary that a


government official is going to help me get a Nigerian passport I'm


That was it. Without a shred of evidence a real Nigerian passport,


costing just �72, will be ready in a couple of days. Basically, I've


gone through all the processes. I've qualified to receive a


passport. This is sort of my guarantor. I have no idea who Lawal


Akeem is. But he's there. He is my guarantor. I've had to develop a


quick signature which is this, so it's Aminu Abdilahi. In the final


analysis, the passport I'm waiting to receive is a genuine passport.


It's in the a fake passport. It is a true passport that is coming from


the national Immigration Service of the republic of nigh John Kerrya.


The only thing that is not -- Republic of Nigeria. The only thing


For many, this is the first step to getting to Britain. Kassim would


still need to get a visa if he wanted to go to the UK. Getting the


necessary document to make a convincing visa application is,


he's told, just as easy, at a price. With money. All things are possible.


Kassim had no intention of using the false documents he's getting,


So, it seems pretty easy to get hold of a Nigerian passport


fraudulently with the promise of all the necessary documents wasle.


The real test is will all that get you into Britain? This is the


border, Passport Control at Heathrow Airport.


All the immigration officers are familiar with forgeries, basic


forgeries. I've come to meet Tahira Shah. She's been working here for


ten years. She helps to decide who can and can't come into Britain.


Because technologies have advanced so much now, it's probably more


easier to travel perhaps as an imposter. On a real document that


you're not validly holding? Yeah. Would you watch if a Nigerian


flight came in? Probably, yes. UK Border Agency has been very


concerned about the number of people flying in from Nigeria with


fraudulent documents. It's taken to giving training and technology to


the Nigerian police to detect forgeries, crack the criminal rings


producing thm and catch those corrupt officials.


But no system is 1 hundred per safe. Last year, over 2,000 people were


detected trying to get into Britain with fraudulent documents. Those


are the one that's were caught. What we don't know is how many got


This is the frontline of a fight against increasingly sophisticated


forgeries from all over the world. We would fingerprint, again, much


to make sure that they match the visa, but with the document, if you


cannot detect it, you do not know. No. So... So it seems to me that


once you are in, you are in. If you can buy the right documents


and get on a plane, you will save yourself the pain and hardship of a


journey overland, but not everyone can afford it. Thousands of


migrants from parts of Asia and Afghanistan have made the road


journey to Turkey, a key transit Shoaib has flown straight into


Turkey from Afghanistan. His fellow Afghans may well have spent months


getting here overland. Some of them have crossed mountains on horseback


and hidden in trucks, and they have ended up here on the streets of


Shoaib meets Suleiman, who arrived here a month ago as part of a


By this point, many Afghan migrants have ran out of money and their


The ones who can carry on another 150 miles west to the border with


That border between Turkey and Greece effectively separates Europe


from Asia, and it has been incredibly porous, a huge headache


for the Greeks, who at the end of last year called for help from the


The European taskforce held sprees in its role as gatekeeper for


Infrared cameras watch as migrants tried to cross the river and land


Undocumented migrants are rounded up. Shoaib went to this overcrowded


detention centre just over the Greek border, where some of them


It is a huge problem for the Greek authorities to process these


migrants, who arrive with no documents. And it is not just


single men. Entire families turn up. Once processed, they are free to


leave for Athens, but many, like Soraya, virtually have no money and


Within minutes of leaving the detention centre, Shoaib comes


across four young men on the road. They have nothing, no money, no


third and only a plastic sheet for protection from the rain. -- no


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Without the money for the bus fare, it is clear these young men have a


long haul ahead of them to get to Even the lucky ones on the bus have


spent all day covering the 400 miles from the detention centre.


And when they get to the Greek capital, they are stuck, because


without the right documents, they cannot get out of Greece. Shoaib


meets them when they finally arrive Many end up in the squares and


Shoaib meets a young couple who arrived 10 days ago with their


three young children, all under the age of five. They have been relying


on a local charity to feed their children once a day. They show him


where they are sleeving. -- Parents Abdullah and Zarminah take


turns to sleep and keep watch over There are hundreds of Afghans with


their children sleeping on the streets of this, the capital of a


European Union country. It is a A short distance away, near the


railway tracks, Shoaib finds makeshift shacks where more of his


It is not even three square metres, they have four people, and one


person can hardly stretch his legs. He is telling me there of four


people. I could hear at least two There has been hostility to the


migrants from the Greeks in Athens. It is not surprising, really. No-


one wants to see their city full of people sleeping on the streets with


In the morning, Shoaib goes to help at a charity which provides free


meals to hundreds of microns every day. -- migrants. The Greek


authorities cannot cope with these new arrivals. One man, an Algerian,


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is desperate to tell Shoaib about If the Afghan migrants imagined for


a moment that Europe was going to be welcoming, their illusions are


shattered once and for all by the But 1800 miles away, more migrants


are on the move, people from across West Africa are making their way to


Kassim was flying from Nigeria to Agadez. For centuries, this town on


the edge of the Sahara has been a staging post for people travelling


from the heart of Africa to the There are thousands of migrants in


transit in Agadez waiting to travel on through the Sahara desert to


Libya or Morocco to continue their But getting out is not going to be


easy. Most people have already travelled thousands of miles to get


here and I spent all of their money. -- have spent. Like this group from


Ghana. With no cash, they cannot afford to move on. How much money


do you need? How long would you need to work for $2,000? Did you


Mike Wren's dream of earning enough money to get on a lorry and make


their way across the desert, heading to the Mediterranean and


then Europe and on to Britain. -- migrants. You get to a point way


When you get the money, those lorries become important. Very


attractive! Do you come here every day to look and say, one day I will


To be where I want, that is it. is not only the men who have been


taken advantage of, it is far worse These three teenagers have come


1,000 miles from Cameroon, and it has been an even more dangerous and


difficult journey for them. Having been exploited by smugglers, they


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To me, it's been very disheartening, because I was thinking, this could


be my sister, this is someone's mother, this is someone's daughter.


The parents are there waiting, they know their daughter left. They went


to look for a life. If they called back home, what are they going to


tell their parents? I don't know what happened to those girls, but I


do know that many women end the George Bushies -- journeys they


hoped would take them to Europe in Where are the buses? The next monk,


it becomes clear that those migrants able to move on may still


face horrors on the road ahead. The road north out of Agadez into


the Sahara is so dangerous that the only way to travel is in these


armed convoys. This is one mass movement of people.


It's about ten buses so far as I've managed to count, more than 40


trucks. Because of the security situation here, they have to


provide security, that's why they move together in what is a military


convoy. They have to escort them The convoys head out across the


Sahara bound for Algeria, Morocco and Libya, towards the


Mediterranean. For migrants, this is a journey into danger and


uncertainty. Bandits, militia and the desert itself can tear convoys


apart. Recent footage, taken in the Samarra, shows overloaded trucks,


broken down in the middle of nowhere, migrants abandoned to die


in the dunes. Kassim is also heading for Morocco,


but he's relieved not to be If they get to Morocco, these


migrants will then try to cross the sea into Europe. On the other side


of the Mediterranean, in Greece, Shoaib has reached the busy port of


Patras. Every day hundreds of trucks leave


on ferries for Italy. Some are carrying cargo that's not quite


what's advertised on the waybill. For migrants, it's the perfect


escape route to mainland Europe and Britain, if they can get on one


At the fence around the port, there's a large group of Afghans


All day long, in plain view, an almost ritualistic battle is played


out between migrants and guards. The migrants are determined to get


onto the trucks and so into the heart of Europe. The guards are


The guards have seen a young man attempting to get onto a truck.


He makes a run for it, trying to get back to the other side of the


Everyone knows what's going on, including the truck drivers. You're


sure there's nobody? Oh, yeah. 100%? 100. Have you come across


anyone trying to get into your car? 500 times a year. Even today they


open my truck three times. I open up, I got two, three guys out. One


was on the Axels. He's risking his life. They suffer. They die on the


road. It's not right. That's my point. Europe is a power now. They


have money. They can organise this or help or find some way, not like


this. They are not animals. They Wherever Shoaib goes, he sees


Afghans just waiting for one lucky moment. He come as cross some


camping by the beach -- comes At a playground nearby, Shoaib


finds young Afghans. It's taken them months to travel over 2,500


Some of the people Shoaib meets The migrants call this road their


runway. It's where they hope to Shoaib watches as whole groups take


to the streets, attempting to board the trucks in plain view of


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Four times he tried today. ( Driver The ones that are caught receive


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A tanker heading for the port stops at the traffic lights and one of


The tanker pulls away with the young man clinging on below.


Migrants are desperate people. No- one knows just how many die trying


to get across the Mediterranean sea. Their goal is to get into mainland


Europe and some of them onto And some try to cross in small


boats and inflatible dinghies. I've joined an Italian Border


Patrol, which aims to intercept them at sea.


The paths that migrants follow to get to Europe are constantly


changing as they try to evade border controls. A couple of years


ago subSaharan Africans used to go to Libya, cross in small boats and


make their way to southern Italy. Their journeys were unbelievably


perilous. Nearly 200 miles through heavy seas on overcrowded, unstable


boats. The results - boats often capsized and people drowned.


Survivors sent back to Libya. Now, once again, Italian border patrols


are picking up increasing numbers of boats filled with migrants, over


40,000 have arrived so far this year with 1200 reported missing or


dead on their journeys. They've come from north Africa,


taking advantage of the recent political upheaval to try to break


into Europe. The north African coastline is the traditional


departure point for Europe for African migrants, who've slogged


their way across most of a huge continent.


Kassim has reached rab at in Morocco. He's flown from Niger, but


he wants to find migrants who've It's not long before he sees a few


faces in the market that don't look Moroccan.


The government here is sensitive about the issue of migrants, who


make their way across the Sahara, so we can't film openly.


Kassim is meeting a woman at her home. To get here she and her two


children travelled 3,000 miles over land from the Democratic Republic


She was stuck in the desert. She tried to pay the drivers off, but


they refused, took her off the lorry, threatened her with a knife


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Mourinho ran away from Congo, thinking she was leaving the


insecurity in our country. -- Philomen. What broke my heart was


that the traffickers even tried to force her child into sex, they


tried to sleep with a four-year-old. I mean, how hard can things get?


Philomen is stuck in Morocco, but she just wants to get to a European


country where she believes that a human rights will be respected and


Kassim has told about some men who have travelled overland from Agadez


and are in Rabat. They do not want to continue their journey by road


and not planning to use fake documents, like the passport that


Kassim himself left behind in Lagos, to fly into Britain. You are still


intent on going to London? Yes. Have you got a passport? A British


passport? How easy was it to get it? It wasn't easy, but I have


And it is your photograph that is in there? Not my photo. But you


look alike, you need to have him Glass's off. -- your classes off.


But you do not need to use false passport to get into Europe, and


you do not have to cross the Mediterranean a Smuggler's boat


either. For a migrant heading for Melilla is on the coast of North


Africa, but it is not African, it is Spanish, in the same way that


Gibraltar is a British territory. So if you can get in, you are in


Europe, and you are unlikely to get It is such a tantalising option for


migrants that the Spanish build a fence around their town to keep


But it was no deterrent, and hundreds of people simply left over.


And so, in 2005, they built this, a much higher fence designed to make


Europe a fortress. It is 20 ft high and six miles long. Defence is


formidable, and it has reduced the number of illegal migrants getting


through. -- the fence. But it has Inside, there is a detention centre


for all of those who have smuggled themselves through the border in


trucks and cars. This is their sort-of last step, and if they


manage to make it into Melilla, it defines the tree that will allow


them to break into the last of Europe, including Britain. -- their


dream. This man has travelled through eight African countries to


get this far. Where do you want to And it is mainland Spain where they


all want to get to. Migrants are sent from Melilla to detention


camps there, and it then becomes easier for them to disappear from


the authority's' side, and then it is not that difficult for illegal


migrants to make their way to almost any European country on the


Shoaib is on his way to Calais, almost at the end of his journey


following Afghan migrants. As a cross and hit Italy, they are using


mostly trains to Calais. I kind of feel that even in this train that


we are travelling in, who knows, they may be hiding somewhere on


On mainland Europe, the movement of my friends is virtually


undetectable. One reason for that is because of the European treaty,


the Shengen agreement, which removed internal border controls.


Once inside Shengen, he can go as far as your life. Until you get to


hear, Calais. Firstly, you encounter the Channel. And secondly,


there is a border, because Britain never signed the Shengen agreement,


Well, it is the early hours of the morning, it is extremely cold and


damp, and it is actually quite busy, lorries queuing up to go through


passport control to get into Britain. The UK Border Agency


performs checks on many lorries, looking for any migrant he might be


hidden on board. On average, they find one every day. We have got an


office in here now utilising the CEO to probe, and this machine will


detect if there is anybody in sight. -- carbon dioxide. It is connected


to a heartbeat machine. It is actually detecting movement inside.


So some sophisticated equipment and the enormous effort goes in to try


to keep Britain's border impenetrable. But even seeing all


of this, I wonder whether migrants And the evidence from our border in


Calais is that it is very difficult. Many migrants reached a dead end


here, unable to cross the Channel. Shoaib finds some of his fellow


Afghans living by the railway tracks, listening to music that


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Other migrants try and cross further along the Channel, in


Belgium, at the port of Ostend. And here, Kassim can see just how hard


people will try to make it into Britain. This is Ostend station,


the port, which combines three different means of transport, you


have the train on one side, the ferry on the other, and then the


trucks. Those who are very desperate will try to jump onto the


tracks, but this is electrified, there is an electric fence, and


quite often we have heard stories that some have been electrocuted.


It is not an easy thing to do. It is about 10 metres, the war itself.


But a desperate person will do In Calais, Shoaib meets 18 year-old


Kadeer left his family in Afghanistan four years ago. He has


been living rough here for the last two years, trying to make his way


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on to a ferry bound for the over. - Kadeer has travelled 3,500 miles


and spent a quarter of his life trying to break into Britain. But


the final 20 miles are proving Now I know what the migrants were


talking about, the famous White Cliffs of Dover. It is not a very


long distance, I can understand those migrants who are so


determined, despite Britain becoming more and more difficult to


break into. Because the final destination he is just an eyesight


away from them. They cannot just give up while they can see their


Shoaib and Kassim are back in London, a city that has welcomed


and benefited from migrants for centuries. Here is Kassim. For the


first time, we are all meting out. Welcome, welcome. So this is the


first time you have met, right? One thing that comes out of vocal


stories is how this is a European issue, isn't it? Greece cannot cope


on its own, it has got to have the bigger European perspective. People


were saying on the ground that at least one aspect of the EU is human


rights. No matter whether it is legal or illegal migration, what is


the commitment of EU towards humans? There is an argument that


says you build a wall so high that no one will even try to come over.


Well, they tried that in Morocco, with Spain and Melilla, which


really... I visited it. All you do is get rid of the official version,


which is people coming in through the usual ways, through the borders


that are known, into an official versions, where people have to find


alternative ways, which may be very dangerous. So you cannot build a


wall, it is always possible. People will find a way to come in. Son and


Kassim did not have to break into Britain, but what they found on


their journeys was that economic migrants are not a problem for


Britain alone. The issue is one facing all of Europe. With our


world so divided between rich and poor, it is easy to see why, even


in hard times, Britain remains attractive. For Zarminah and her


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