My first firsthand experience with migrants

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Having worked in European Forwarding the past couple of years, I’ve had to handle a whole lot of migrant issues in regards to our chartered trailers, however, I had never really seen what was going on. Most times it just caused an annoying delay of up to a day and that was it.

I’ve moved to a UK domestic haulier since and today, I had to deal with migrants first hand. A few times per week, we have a delivery from Spain, today was one of those days. The driver, a Romanian guy, waltzed into our drivers room slightly panicked. Unfortunately, only mastering Romanian & Spanish, nobody understood what he was trying to explain. We have quite a few nationalities and multilinguals in our company, so we tried them all: English, French, German, Hungarian, Polish, Dutch… but to no avail. Until someone remembered that I spoke a few words of Spanish. With a few, I mean that I can ask where the swimming pool is and how much it costs to buy 5 stamps.

Hand, feet, Romanian, Spanish and English got intertwined and I quickly understood what he tried to say. There was someone in the back of his trailer.

We immediately called the police who arrived swiftly and opened the trailer -there wasn’t just ‘someone’ in the back, it was occupied by 16 people, later determined to be Erithrean.

Under arrest from the police, the migrants were led into our drivers room to keep them there until police transport would arrive. The women frightened, the men knew that they had made it through. They were muslim and rejected everything we offered them, as it is Ramadan, however, they did ask for bread.

While my colleagues were looking after the migrants, it was up to me to be with the driver and a police officer in our small kitchen, translating -or trying to- everything they said. After a short while, I determined that this method wasn’t working too well and I suggested that the driver should phone his office in Romania, surely there must be someone who speaks English. To my, and the officers, joy , one of his planners spoke broken English and they managed to complete the conversation.

Afterwards I wondered why we didn’t use Google Translate…

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