Mohammed Hussain, 18, becomes first casualty of crisis in Britain this year while fleeing Dunkirk camp en route to Manchester
A Kurdish teenager has died underneath a lorry in Oxfordshire, the first refugee to be killed on British soil this year, prompting fresh criticism of the government’s asylum policy for people arriving in Europe.
Mohammed Hussain, 18, was clinging to the underside of a lorry when the vehicle crashed at around 6pm on Friday night. The teenager appears to have had a legitimate claim for entry to the UK.
Friends of Hussain’s, speaking from the camp at Dunkirk where the teenager had spent six months, revealed that he had family members living in Manchester – whom he was trying to reach – making him eligible to claim asylum in the UK under the EU’s Dublin regulation, which promotes family reunification.
The friends accused the Home Office of being responsible for the Hussain’s death, and said charities at the camp had not seen any evidence of British government officials visiting Dunkirk and Calais to assess and register how many refugees were eligible to claim asylum in the UK.
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Maddie Harris of the charity Help Refugees, who knew Hussain’s cousin in the camp in northern France, said: “He was trying to find a better life and died in the process and our government is responsible for his death.”
She said police officers in Oxfordshire had called Hussain’s cousin on Friday evening to reveal details of the tragedy.
In a separate incident, an 11-year-old boy from Afghanistan has gone missing after being spotted climbing on to a ferry to Dover on Wednesday morning.
Liz Clegg, who runs the women and children’s centre in Calais and looks after scores of unaccompanied minors, said she had tried to contact the youngster, called Kareem, but to no avail. She also said she had contacted Kent police, but they allegedly refused to issue a missing persons report.
She said Kareem was an unaccompanied minor, who had been living in her centre at the Calais refugee camp for at least six months.
Clegg said: “The officer said that he did not go missing from Kent and my reply was that I am 99.9% certain that he is in Kent. I kept saying it’s an emergency, he’s 11 and doesn’t speak English, but it was a very unhelpful response.
“So they then alerted French police hoping that between them they might generate a missing child alert. From our experience in the last few days there appears to be no coordinated response in regards to refugee children going missing.
“He is a kind, funny and smart boy all and his friends are deeply concerned and feel powerless to do anything. He has now been missing for days.”
Charities on Saturday urged anyone who had seen the young Afghan to contact Help Refugees.
It is difficult to make an accurate assessment of the number of refugees who die trying to enter Britain, but a Guardian investigation found that at least 15 migrants had died trying to escape Calais in 2014. Such deaths on British soil are rare.
Josie Naughton of Help Refugees said her organisation had ”repeatedly pleaded with the authorities to register the children in the camp. Our warnings about the dangers of not doing so were ignored, with potentially terrible consequences for this young boy.”
George Gabriel of Citizens UK said: “The disappearance of this boy is a grim reminder of the dangers faced by hundreds of children who are alone in Calais and Dunkirk. Our governments should be ashamed that they are not doing more to register and protect unaccompanied minors.”