'I Can't Swim': An Iranian Who Crossed The Channel In A Small Boat Describes The 'Scary' Journey

Nima Moradi, who was granted asylum in the UK last year after fleeing persecution, said the Rwanda deportation policy would not deter people.
Nima Moradi on BBC's Newsnight.
Nima Moradi on BBC's Newsnight.

An Iranian man who crossed the English Channel in a small boat to seek asylum from persecution has described in detail the treacherous journey he took.

Nima Moradi spoke to BBC’s Newsnight in the aftermath of legislation being passed to underpin the Rwanda deportation plan, and three men, one woman and a seven-year-old girl dying in a small boat Channel crossing.

The Rwanda policy to send illegal migrants on a one-way journey to east African country is key to Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” by deterring people from making risky journeys and breaking the business model of people-smuggling gangs.

Nima, who was granted asylum by the UK’s Home Office last year, explained to Newsnight that he fled Iran after criticising the hardline Iranian regime and being persecuted along with his friends; one friend was executed.

He went to Turkey and then Greece, where he was granted asylum, but left because he was “living in a tent without having access to electricity, without having access to hygiene facilities”.

Nima said he wasn’t thinking about his destination, “I was thinking about being safe”, and opted to head to the UK because he spoke English. He paid around £3,000 to a smuggler and explained the desperation that was fuelling his decision to make the cross-Channel journey on the fourth attempt.

He said: “You are risking your life. You know it’s dangerous. You know you might die. But you want to gamble because you have no other option. It is scary. I cannot swim. And I thought, ‘maybe I will die’. But did I have another option to make it here? No.”

The Rwanda policy had been announced at the time “but that didn’t stop me”, and people will say continue to say “it’s not going to apply to me” now it’s passed parliament.

Nima said there is “no other way” to seek asylum, and he would have sought a claims centre outside the UK if there was one. He had an interview with Home Office officials two weeks after arriving in the UK and was granted asylum.

You can watch the full interview below.


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