An asylum seeker says he risked a perilous trip across the English Channel in a small, overcrowded boat because he did not feel safe in France.
The Yemeni man, who we are calling Ali, arrived in England in late May after spending a month in a tent in Calais, alongside untreated people suffering from coronavirus.
There were 16 people on the smugglers’ boat he took, the waves were high, and the engine shut down.
“We were feeling we could die at any time during the trip,” he said through an interpreter.
Ali told Sky News he was beaten up by gangs in Calais and did not claim asylum in France.
Nevertheless, he is due to be flown back there in the next week.
He was speaking as Royal Navy chiefs consider a formal request for support to deal with migrants attempting to cross the Channel following a rise in incidents.
The 24-year-old fled Yemen after the Houthi authorities accused him of being a spy following his return from Saudi Arabia.
He came all the way to the UK because he was attacked by smugglers in Europe and felt controlled by gangs, who took his food and money, he said.
The boat he was on was intercepted, but after reaching England “all the pains and the struggles disappeared” and he began to feel he might get a fresh start.
But the Home Office has rejected his request to stay, and Ali thinks that may be because he had his fingerprints taken in France.
Every time he thinks of France he is unable to eat, he says, and has had nothing but water for the last week.
He feels “depressed and lonely” and is being closely monitored for fear he may harm himself.
Ali says he would rather die in Yemen in the arms of his wife than go back across the Channel.
If he is allowed to stay he wants to study and bring his wife over.