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Brother-in-law reveals dismay at death of Afghan refugee, 15, in bid to reach UK

Published 26/01/2016

Sameer Naveed, the brother-in-law of an Afghan refugee killed trying to make his way to the UK, recalled the moment he had to identify his body
Sameer Naveed, the brother-in-law of an Afghan refugee killed trying to make his way to the UK, recalled the moment he had to identify his body

The brother-in-law of an Afghan refugee killed trying to make his way to the UK has recalled the "awful" moment he had to identify his body.

Masud Naveed was just 15 when he died in the back of a lorry on the treacherous journey to Britain from France at the end of December.

Weeks later, his brother-in-law Sameer Naveed said he is haunted by the memory of the teen's body, which he had to travel to Dunkirk to identify.

He said: "This one (image) is not going from my mind."

He added: "I saw Masud's body in the freezer. It was awful. I told him (the officer there) 'I can't, I don't want to see any more'."

Sameer, who lives in London with his wife Lailuma and their three young children, had hoped Masud could move in with them and find a better life in Britain.

"He would have had a good life here," Sameer told the Press Association.

He added: "He always said 'I want to come to you'."

Masud was one of hundreds of unaccompanied children gathered in Calais. He jumped in the back of a lorry in Dunkirk but was fatally injured when he put his head outside to see where he was and hit a bridge.

Earlier reports suggested Masud had been suffocated but Sameer said this was not the case.

The teen fled Afghanistan nine months ago, fearful of growing violence there, Sameer said in his first interview since Masud's death.

He is now hopeful that speaking out about his family's tragedy can help bring attention to the plight of young people who feel forced to take life-threatening risks to come to Britain.

A landmark case last week saw lawyers use human rights legislation to argue three teenagers and a 26-year-old man with severe mental health issues should be immediately taken out of the "intolerable'' conditions of what has become known as The Jungle in Calais.

The case - of which the full ruling is expected to be delivered on Friday - could pave the way for many other refugees in the Calais camp to be brought to Britain.

The refugees' legal team successfully argued that bureaucratic delays in France meant their cases should be handed over to the UK, where they all have relatives legally living.

Citizens UK are preparing to bring dozens of cases as a result of the ruling, in a bid to stop others dying like Masud.

George Gabriel of the campaign group said: "We need urgent Government action in the wake of our ruling last week to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"No children should die in the back of lorries or crossing trains tracks. We have a safe, legal alternative that they should be entitled to."

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of Labour's Refugee Taskforce called on British and French governments to "act fast" to prevent further tragedy.

She said: "Masud should not have ended up in Calais alone in the first place because the British Government's own rules mean his close family here should have been able to look after him. And it is heartbreaking that he should have died before his case was heard.

"As we have warned for some time the rules just aren't working properly at the moment. That's why the Government must agree to the Save the Children proposal to take 3000 child refugees from Europe - starting immediately with those who have family here to care for them."

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