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Chaos, war and terror behind the migrant rush to reach UK

Published 02/08/2015

British troops in Basra after the 2003 invasion of Iraq
British troops in Basra after the 2003 invasion of Iraq

Migrants fleeing some of the world's most deadly wars, bloody genocides and brutal dictatorships are attempting to reach the UK from Calais. Here the Press Association takes a look at the nightmares that many of them are desperately trying to escape.

:: Syria - Plunged into civil war following the "Arab Spring" uprising against Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship in 2011, large swathes of the country are now controlled by Isis jihadists.

The group's reign of terror has witnessed mass executions of enemy soldiers, beheadings of foreign aid workers and journalists, and medieval punishments for civilians who stray from the group's warped interpretation if Islam.

Mr Assad, for his part, has been accused of using chemical weapons and explosive barrel bombs on civilian neighbourhoods who oppose his rule.

:: Iraq - Disaster has followed disaster in the Middle Eastern nation since the the downfall of the iron-fisted Sadam Hussein regime in 2003 at the hands of a US-led coalition in 2003.

After insurgency and civil war between the minority Sunni and Shiite communities tore the country to shreds, the rise of Isis across the border in Syria unleashed a new wave of violence.

Many of the Iraqi migrants who are trying to get to the UK claim that they have fled the country because they worked for the Americans during the war.

:: Afghanistan - America's decision to invade the already war-torn country following the 9/11 attacks led to the deaths of tens of thousands.

And although the US has retained a residual presence, the death toll from the Taliban insurgency continues to rise.

In June a suicide bomber killed 40 civilians, including a woman and a child, in a brazen bomb and gun attack on the Afghan parliament in Kabul.

Like the Iraqis they share the "Jungle" camp with in Calais, many Afghan refugees speak English and claim they have been persecuted for collaborating with western forces.

:: Somalia - Violence continues to beset the Horn of Africa state after it spent more than two decades without a formal parliament following the fall of President Siad Barre in 1991.

It is home to the notorious Al-Shabaab jihadist terror group, which has grabbed headlines with outrages such as the 2013 Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya.

In addition to man-made catastrophes, natural disasters such as drought killed an estimated half a million people in the famines of 1992 and 2010-12.

:: Eritrea - One of the most noticeable groups in the Calais jungle, and wherever the wave of migration moves, are Eritreans.

Although not currently at war, t he east African country is ruled by a totalitarian regime which uses the threat of a return to conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia to impose an indefinite military service on its citizens.

From the age of 16 or 17, boys and girls have all aspects of their lives dictated to them in what migrants describe variously as slavery and imprisonment.

:: Sudan - Among the Sudanese contingent trying to cross the Channel many come from the North African country's western Darfur region.

The country's government stands accused of genocide there after unleashing Arab militias known as as Janjaweed, or "devils on horseback", on African farmers in the region.

It has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people, according to the United Human Rights Council.

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