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Fatal lorry crash victim 'first refugee killed in Britain in 2016'

Published 03/04/2016

Mohammed Hussain who died when the lorry he was travelling aboard crashed and is believed to be the first refugee killed in Britain this year, according to campaigners.
Mohammed Hussain who died when the lorry he was travelling aboard crashed and is believed to be the first refugee killed in Britain this year, according to campaigners.
Police said a man was killed in a collision involving a lorry on Beaumont Road, near its junction with the A423 Southam Road, in Banbury on Friday but refused to identify him

A teenager who died when the lorry he was travelling aboard crashed is believed to be the first refugee killed in Britain this year, according to campaigners.

The man, named by charity Help Refugees as 18-year-old Mohammed Hussain, was found dead by police in Banbury, Oxfordshire, early on Friday.

According to the charity, he was from Kurdistan and had been living in the refugee camp in Dunkirk, northern France, for about six months.

Volunteer Maddie Harris said he made the journey to be reunited with an uncle living in Manchester, meaning he could have made an asylum claim under the European Union's Dublin regulation.

She said that when surviving family members in Dunkirk - a cousin and an uncle - called his mobile phone on Friday evening, it was answered by police officers.

"The police answered and I was asked to speak to them," Ms Harris, who works in the Dunkirk camp, said. "He was underneath a truck, there was an accident and he was killed.

"He'd been in Dunkirk a long time - maybe he decided to go on his own. All Mohammed was trying to do was to find a better life and he felt this was his only option.

"The problem is we are aware of Mohammed because he was known in the camp, but how many more people has this happened to?"

She added the family in the UK had been informed and formal identification will take place on Monday.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said a man was killed in a collision involving a lorry on Beaumont Road, near its junction with the A423 Southam Road, in Banbury on Friday but refused to identify him.

"He was declared dead at the scene after being involved in a collision with a HGV on Beaumont Road at around 4.35am," the spokesman added. "We are preparing a file for the coroner. The next of kin has been informed."

A man arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by careless driving has been released without charge.

Campaigners said Mr Hussain's death is thought to be the first on UK soil in 2016.

Help Refugees co-founder Josie Naughton said refugees faced a lack of care and communication from authorities in both camps in Dunkirk and Calais.

She said: "Refugees have no access to their rights, there are completely confused messages.

"They feel their only option is to get on a lorry and risk their life to be reunited with their family or get to the UK. "

Meanwhile, police have appealed for information on an 11-year-old refugee who disappeared after boarding a lorry bound for the UK in Calais.

Kent Police said the boy, named by Help Refugees as Kareem, from Afghanistan, was reported missing by a charity worker in Calais. It is believed he boarded the lorry on March 30 and officers have been unable to establish whether he arrived in the UK.

The force said it was working with agencies in Britain and France in an attempt to locate him.

Detective chief inspector Emma Banks said: "We are concerned regarding his whereabouts and will do everything we can to locate him and ensure that he is given the appropriate care. Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Kent Police and I would like to thank the charity worker for bringing this matter to our attention.

"I would appeal to anyone who may have information that supports this investigation, including the driver of the lorry which was due to travel from Calais to Dover at around 6am French time on March 30, to contact Kent Police quoting 02-1274 to help us to focus our enquiry."

Conservative MP Heidi Allen said she met Kareem while on a visit to the Calais 'Jungle' camp last week.

"It is really sad to hear he has gone missing," she said.

"He was a young boy just desperate for human contact and adult contact and somebody to look after him.

"He had limited English and when I talked to him about where he wanted to go he said 'England, England, England'. He had no answer to the question why."

His hands were "puffy" from scabies which he contracted because he was unable to wash, the South Cambridgeshire MP added.

She said the issue of unaccompanied child refugees had worsened since last month's demolition of part of the Jungle camp, which she described as "like Armageddon".

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