BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 16:19 GMT
Hopes of a new life in Britain
Refugees leaving the Sangatte refugee centre
The first group to leave were mostly single men

It was still dark when the bus pulled out of the gate at the Sangatte centre.

Inside was the first group of immigrants to be on their way to Britain and a new future.

They waved to us through the windows, smiling and looking happy.

Some took photographs of the journalists and camera crews outside, who were taking pictures of them.

Later we were told by UN officials at the centre that they had hardly slept that night, too busy with the excitement of leaving and their preparations to go.

A Sangatte refugee calls relatives in England
Iraqi Kurds will get work permits
This first group of 39 were mostly single men, mainly Iraqi Kurds.

There was one Afghan family, a mother and her two young children, soon to be reunited with relatives in Britain.

And they then began a process that more than 1,000 will go through before the Sangatte centre is closed at the end of the month.

They travelled a short distance to Calais, to a temporary processing centre, set up by the British immigration service, in what is normally a leisure centre and a park.

There for more than five hours, their identities were checked again by immigration officials.

They were photographed and fingerprinted.

Family links

Then they were loaded onto a British bus and they set off for the terminal for the channel tunnel - only a half-hour train journey from the place they had wanted to be for so long - Britain.

In the days to come the numbers leaving will increase to two busloads on Friday, then three a day carrying 120 people, until the 1,200 or so the British are admitting have finally been cleared from Sangatte.

There will still be a few hundred immigrants from the centre left behind, of 14 nationalities. They are the ones who do not meet the British criteria.

The four-year work permits are being giving to Iraqi Kurds.

Thousands of illegal immigrants are still living rough on the streets of Calais

Some Afghans are being admitted who have family links with Britain.

But the hundreds of others will be placed in the hands of the French authorities.

They will be offered financial assistance to go home or the chance to apply for asylum in France.

That is also true for the thousands of illegal immigrants still living rough on the streets of Calais.

But for many this is not what they want - they still talk of trying to illegally stow away in trains and lorries to get across to Britain.

For those officially accepted by Britain they will be found accommodation and will be given help to get jobs.

They speak of a dream coming true, something written on their faces as the bus drove away to the channel tunnel.


Key stories

Background

Features

CLICKABLE GUIDES
See also:

29 Nov 02 | Politics
30 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes