Man who survived sinking Channel boat says he will try to cross again

Mohammed Shekha, an Iraqi shepherd, survived when the boat he was in sank in the English Channel (Photo: Rudaw / Sky)

One of two survivors of the Channel boat tragedy that left dozens dead has vowed to keep trying to get to the UK.

Mohammed Shekha, 21, was rescued from the sea when he was unable to swim when the small boat he was in sank last week.

Speaking to the press for the first time after the incident, the shepherd from Iraq’s Kurdish region claimed migrants on board had called for help from French and British authorities, but both said it was the responsibility of the other.

It was the second time he had boarded a sinking boat trying to make the perilous journey, but he was about to try again in order to support his sister, Fatima, who needs an operation.

Younger brother Marwan said The temperature he had spoken to his brother following the tragedy.

He had told her, “Don’t worry. I’m doing this for my family. If I come back, I won’t be able to make a living. I will try again.

Mohammed was one of at least 33 people who attempted the crossing last Tuesday evening, despite the poor weather conditions.

In an interview with Rudaw, the Kurdish broadcaster, he said water began to enter the back of the boat in the early hours of the morning.

Channel survivor Mohammed Shekha / Mohammed Sheka, 21 (right), is one of only two migrants to survive when a rubber dinghy carrying 29 migrants deflated in the Channel on Wednesday.  Pictured left is Mohammed's sister Fatima, 18, for whom Mohammed is traveling to Britain to earn money for medical operations

Mohammed aims to raise money for his sister who needs an operation

Mohammed said: “We then called the French police and they told us to send a location live. So we sent them the location, but they said ‘you are in UK territory, there is nothing we can do about it’. We then called the British, but they said ‘no, call the French’.

By this point, the boat had stopped moving and was drifting in the current towards France as the water continued to gush out.

Mohammed said everyone was holding hands, but over the hours people started to fall into the water.

It is then believed that a wave hit the boat, knocking everyone overboard.

Migrants stand near a fire on abandoned train tracks at a makeshift migrant camp at Loon Beach in Dunkirk, France, November 28, 2021. REUTERS / Juan Medina
Migrants camp in Dunkirk awaiting the opportunity to make the crossing (Photo: Reuters)

At least 27 people have died, including women and young children, and others are believed to be still missing.

Mohammed was eventually rescued alongside a Somali man by the French coast guard after fishermen sounded the alarm.

He survived by hanging on to a life jacket but suffered hypothermia and exhaustion.

screenshots of Mohammed Shekha Ahmed's interview this evening (28-11-2021) on Ruda, the Kurdish state broadcaster.  Photographed in Calais
Mohammed told Kurdish TV he would attempt the crossing again

It had previously reached Dunkirk, where it began the crossing, via Germany and France after entering the EU at the border between Belarus and Poland.

Mohammed paid smugglers around £ 11,000 to help him complete every leg of his journey.

He now has to raise around £ 45,000 to pay for his sister’s surgery.

“I hope Britain brings me to their country so that I can fundraise and then I will return to my parents and family,” he said.

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