Shepherd who miraculously survived Calais tragedy vows to try crossing to UK again

Mohammed Shekha, a 21-year-old shepherd originally from the Kurdish region of Iran, sent his mother a voice message from a migrant camp in France the day before his crossing attempt

Mohammed Shekha is back at a migrant camp in northern France – and wants to attempt the crossing again

A shepherd who survived the Calais tragedy has vowed to try and cross the Channel again – saying he is doing it for his family.

Mohammed Shekha, who cannot swim, was one of just a handful of survivors from the doomed vessel on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old, originally from the Kurdish region of Iran, was fished from the freezing water before succumbing to the waves and the cold.

Mr Shekha desperately clung to a lifejacket to survive until a rescue vessel reached him. And, speaking to his brother from Calais, he has vowed to try the deadly crossing again.

He had been travelling to the UK to find a job to pay for his younger sister’s medical bills, which doctors told them would cost thousands of pounds.

It was a dinghy such as this which sank, leading to the deaths of 27 people



His brother Marwan, 18, told The Sunday Times : “It’s a miracle. He can’t swim at all. I don’t know how it happened.”

He added: “All of a sudden, he found himself in the water too.

“He said he can’t stop thinking about the other people who died in front of him. It keeps coming back in his mind. He didn’t know how to rescue the women who fell in.”

The Sunday Times reports that Mohammed and his brother worked, saved and mortgaged a plot of family land so they could take out a $6,000 loan before contacting a smuggler.

There are still a few scattered tents on the site of a former refugee camp on the outskirts of Calais


Phil Harris)

Mohammed was then flown from Syria to Belarus from where he could enter the EU. Once he reached northern France, and with Marwan helping him, he made contact with an Iraqi-Kurdish smuggler in Turkey, who charged him $3,200 on top of the $10,300 for his bid to get to the UK.

As Marwan worried about his elder brother on Wednesday evening, he received a video call. It was Mohammed on a paramedic’s phone, barely able to speak.

By Friday he was recovered and back in the Calais camp. He spoke to Marwan again, reports the Times, saying: “I’m doing this for my family. If I come back, I can’t make a living. I’m going to try again.”

Other details have emerged regarding the 27 people who died in one of the worst ever disasters in the Channel.

A relative identified 21-year-old Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, known to her family as Baran, as one of those who died on what was the deadliest day of the migration crisis.

Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, known to her family as Baran, drowned on Wednesday


Internet Unknown)

The student was said to have been trying to join her fiance, who already lives in Britain, as her cousin urged the British and French governments to help people resettle rather than “force them to take this route of death”.

Krmanj Ezzat Dargali told Sky News: “The situation is just awful. She was a woman in the prime of her life.

“I understand why so many people are leaving for a better life, but this is not the correct path. It’s the route of death.”

Also among those who died was Harem Pirot, 25, and his friend Twana Mamand Muhammad, both from Rayna in Iraq, according to The Observer.

Mr Pirot had been trying to reach England to meet his brother Anwar, a Sheffield graduate living in Cambridge.

The Observer also said there was a family from the Iraqi Kurdish town of Darbandikhan – Khazal Hussein, 45, and her children Haida, 22, son Mubin, 16, and younger daughter Hasti, seven.

Ms Hussein’s husband, Rezgar, said: “My wife and children were unhappy with our life here. They wanted us all to go to the UK.

“I told them I couldn’t come because of my job as a policeman. I would lose it. They insisted to go so I agreed I would join them if they made it, and if they didn’t, they could come back. I never knew it was risky.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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