Refugee reveals the 'fear and terror' of people smuggling

Refugees and migrants on an overcrowded rubber dinghy boat near Lesbos in Greece. Credit: PA

After a Derby man is ordered to be extradited on people smuggling charges, a Syrian refugee reveals the terror of being trafficked to Europe.

The conflict in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

Many, like Milad Arbash, go to great lengths to flee the war, often risking their lives in the process.

He endured a terrifying ordeal in his pursuit for a better life.

Milad was born in Syria.

He says he had a 'perfect childhood' where he felt safe and was surrounded by happiness and laughter.

But the peace and tranquility he grew to love was short-lived; civil unrest broke out in 2011 and his world turned upside down.

Milad describes himself as a staunch Christian.

He's from an area in Syria occupied by the so-called Islamic State where Christians are not welcome.

He said : "You're constantly in fear and worried what could happen. You worry that a mortar will kill you and no-one will know. You live in danger all the time."

Last year, Milad decided enough was enough.

He decided to leave Syria and left home one night with just his passport and a few personal belongings.

Milad made his way to Lebanon and then flew to Turkey where he met someone who would arrange for him to travel to Greece by boat.

It was, he says, a journey from hell.

The boat was not fit for purpose.

It had a capacity to accommodate no more than 100 people.

But it was over-crowded with 300 people on board.

Soon after leaving Turkey, the boat began to sink.

He says " After 1 hour we sank, it was like a horror story. It was frightening to be in the boat like that. There were babies on board who were just a few days old and around 50 pensioners who couldn't swim".

Milad wouldn't say exactly how much he paid.

He believes the 'agents' who arranged the trip were only concerned about lining their pockets and didn't care about the welfare of those on board.

He says : "People don't care about humanity, all they want is money. They left us in the boat with the bare minimum. We were not fully prepared to go out to sea. They trade on human suffering."

Milad eventually managed to reach the Greek island of Kos and then to Macedonia where he and 5000 people made their way to Austria.

He arrived in Derby in January and now has indefinite leave to remain in Britain status, which means he can apply to stay here.

He'd love to return to Syria one day, to be reunited with his family and friends once again.

For now though, he's studying for a Masters Degree in Crisis Management and enjoys volunteering with the Red Cross working with refugees.

He says : "I would like to help them to rebuild their lives because they have lost so much. I'm sure they will eventually make a huge contribution to society in the future."