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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
Refugees seek ride to 'Treasure Island'
As the UK Government prepares for a radical shake-up in the way it deals with asylum-seekers, thousands of people continue to seek refuge in the UK.

BBC Radio 5 Live's Chris Ledgard follows the route that many such newcomers take across Europe.

He describes what he saw when he picked up the migrant trail from Italy through to the French port of Calais.

3 April, Calais

To the day-tripper from Dover, Calais means booze.

To the refugee it means lorries, and the chance of clandestine entry to the UK.
calais
Calais: "Eldorado" is a ferry ride away
Clive, from York has been in Italy picking up a lorry load of shoes to take back to Leicester.

From Monday, he faces a 2,000 per head fine if refugees are found in his vehicle when he gets to Dover.

Clive carries a baseball bat in his cabin, and one or two other deterrents. His tarpaulin is ripped thanks to his most recent unwanted passengers who he discovered the other day.

He is incensed by the decision to fine drivers, saying asylum seekers are geniuses at the art of concealment.

But he says there are lighter moments.

The other day, a friend driving through Belgium became aware of passengers.

He stopped, threw open the tail door and shouted: "Look, England!" and out they tumbled.

I tell Clive that his association bosses are worried about violence. He says someone is going to get killed.

A few miles up the coast at Sangatte, 500 asylum seekers stay in a huge hangar-style shed preparing for the journey to England.

The French Government funds and the Red Cross runs this departure lounge for a flight the British are trying to prevent. Vive L' Europe!

Augustina, a Bulgarian Red Cross worker, says Britain is referred to as Eldorado, or Treasure Island. She admits she has never been to Dover.

We find a Palestinian at Sangatte, stealing his nerves to make the trip on Monday night.

I don't mention Clive.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Chris Ledgard speaks to Radio Five Live en-route
"People are worried about the trend towards toughening-up on asylum-seekers"
See also:

15 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Immigration Bill condemned
22 Mar 00 | Scotland
Leaflets 'target refugees'
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