My interview with NBC news America.

By Alasdair Lane and Adela Suliman

LONDON — Clad head to toe in newly bought all-black clothes that held no scent, as instructed by the smugglers who bundled him into the back of a truck, this is how Md Mominul Hamid’s life in Britain began.

Hamid risked his life to make the perilous journey from France to Britain, a trip dozens of others make each day.

“I didn’t have any choice,” the 28-year-old from Bangladesh told NBC News. It’s a common refrain from migrants forced by conflict, climate change, finances or family ties to flee in search of a better life.

As the number of people attempting the life-threatening crossings from France to England rose this summer, migrants say they feel scapegoated in a hostile national mood in post-Brexit Britain.

And with parts of Europe having only tentatively emerged from coronavirus lockdowns and cross-border transits still limited, migrants are ditching Britain-bound trucks for precarious travel by sea.

Image: Migrants sit outside the perimeter of the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece
Migrants sit outside the perimeter of the Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, in September.Vangelis Papantonis / AP

A previous attempt to get to Ireland involving a fake Italian passport procured from a Romanian had already unraveled, Hamid said, costing him thousands of dollars.

“These trafficking gangs are so, so strong and very dangerous, so once you’ve committed … you have to follow their instructions,” he said, citing stories of those who had been ripped off, beaten or killed and buried in the port of Calais, northern France, where many pass en route to Britain.

Hiding in the back of the pitch-black truckwith another clandestine passenger from India, unable to eat or relieve himself, Hamid was sealed in for 22 hours, fearing those moments would be his last.

“You can’t breathe,” he said. “I was so scared.”

He arrived safely in Britain and has since claimed legal asylum. He still lives with a heavy uncertainty hanging over his future — but he is safe, studying law and often volunteers helping other refugees in the northeast city of Newcastle.

“There’s a huge range of reasons why people are seeking sanctuary in the country,” he said, adding that immigration had become “more political now rather than a human rights thing.”

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