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Miss Ethiopia describes 'harrowing ordeal' of travelling to the UK

Selamawit Teklay [@RAbdiAnalyst/Twitter]
Selamawit Teklay [@RAbdiAnalyst/Twitter]

Selamawit Teklay, a famous beauty queen in Tigray, experienced "a harrowing ordeal" during her journey across the English Channel to seek asylum in the UK, she recounted.

Selamawit travelled to France last year, before risking her life to cross the Channel on a boat packed with migrants, according to a report by the BBC.

She stated that trying to reach the UK was arduous and frightening, saying, "I have seen Tigrayan brothers drown in the sea. I'm a survivor of the English Channel. November 2021 is the month I will never forget in my life."

"We first spent nights taking shelter in France. We stayed in bushes in Calais for about two weeks. The cold was severe, no food to eat, no water to sip. It was suffering – endless suffering," she recounted.

READ: UK MPs warn Rwanda makes 'good headlines' but does not deter Channel crossings

She added that they had waited for different smugglers and negotiated payment with them, noting that they transported migrants at night to avoid being caught by the police.

The first batch of migrants from Tigray tried to cross the Channel, but their boat sank. Coastguards managed to save the migrants, but the story of the incident left those who had not yet made the journey in shock.

When they did board their dinghy, they set off but the "engine fell into the sea", one of the Arab men on the boat jumped in to rescue it but was unable, so an Ethiopian man jumped in after him but "he never came back".

"We heard him shouting. We couldn't find him. We made desperate calls for help. However, the lifeguards arrived three hours later. Our brother drowned in front of me."

The Arab man, however, made it back into the boat.

"I never thought I would ever leave my country. I never had any desire to. When I used to go abroad for beauty pageants or other work, I always returned home. I had my own business in Mekelle where I designed and sold traditional and modern fabrics. At the time business in Mekelle was roaring, so I was doing well," she said.

"Displacement, woe and distress were experienced by every Tigrayan. It happened to me and my family as well," said Teklay.

READ: Ankara slams Liz Truss plan to send refugees to Turkiye in proposed extension of Rwanda deal

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