Ex-soldier helps a refugee girl – level 3
“Where are you?”
It’s a touching moment not often seen in Calais’s infamous jungle camp; a volunteer aid worker playing hide-and-seek with this little girl and her father.
The pair fled Afghanistan with the hopes of one day reaching the UK to claim asylum. But now, Rob Lawrie could face five years in jail for allegedly attempting to illegally smuggle 4-year-old Baha into the country.
“She’s just a sweet little child that you just think, ‘How the hell can you leave her in this situation?’”
The former soldier claims the little girl’s father begged him to hide her in his car and drive her to relatives in Yorkshire.
“Rational thought left my mind. I’ve got a sleeping compartment in my van, and I said to her dad, ‘Okay, I can’t leave her here, I’m sorry. I’ll take her to your family in England’ who, ironically, live five miles from me.”
But he was stopped by French police at the border and charged with aiding illegal immigration. Baha was returned to Calais, while Rob waits to hear if he will be jailed or fined up to £20,000 by a French court.
“Well, it’s petrifying. I mean, this has cost me, all being my own fault – don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone, it’s my fault – it’s cost me my family, it’s cost me financially, I’m virtually bankrupt now.”
Online petitions have attracted thousands of signatures in the hope he’ll be spared jail.
He hopes his plight will highlight the suffering of migrant children stuck on European borders.
Difficult words: infamous (known for something bad), jungle (busy and not clean), volunteer (somebody who does some work for free), aid (helping), hide-and-seek (a children’s game when you hide and somebody looks for you), flee (to run away), asylum (to get protection), allegedly (according to what people say), former (-ex), beg (to ask somebody for something), ironically (it is a surprising, shocking coincidence), fine (to make somebody pay money for doing something wrong), petrifying (making you feel very scared), virtually (almost), plight (a difficult situation).
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