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Charity launches poster project to highlight loneliness of migrants

Siki pictured holding a missing poster, with a picture of his sister and her daughter on it (Inzajeano Latif and Migrant Help/PA)
Siki pictured holding a missing poster, with a picture of his sister and her daughter on it (Inzajeano Latif and Migrant Help/PA)

A charity has created a “missing poster” campaign to highlight the loneliness felt by male migrants, as crossings continue to the UK.

The Migrant Help project involves photos of four male refugees holding posters showing family members they miss, as part of the charity’s coverage for mental health awareness month.

Since the start of this year, 8,412 people have reached the UK in small boat crossings, according to analysis of Government data by the PA news agency, with more than 600 arriving since Saturday.

Caroline O'Connor smiling and wearing a floral top
Caroline O’Connor said migrants often experience extreme loneliness (Migrant Help/PA)

Caroline O’Connor, chief executive of Migrant Help, told the PA news agency she hopes the campaign “makes us think about our own sons and daughters, about our parents, and about our brothers and sisters”.

She said: “How would we handle the situation, how hard would it be for us to leave them and how desperate they must have become to make that choice.

“Our clients, whether they are refugees, survivors of modern slavery or people seeking asylum, often face extreme loneliness.

Inzajeano Latif sitting down and smiling
Inzajeano Latif captured the images (Katja Silling/PA)

“They are usually spoken about in media as a broader political issue, using distant terms of law and policy.

“In reality, these are people who experienced severe trauma, who are missing families and friends they had to leave behind, all the while facing uncertain future.”

Photographer Inzajeano Latif said the photos aim to convey the “sense of sadness, of loneliness, of feeling far away” that is felt by refugees.

Mr Latif, who has Pakistani heritage, said he also felt compelled to take part in the project to “give a voice and platform to minority groups that are usually side-lined”.

Osman pictured holding a missing poster, which mentions that he missed out on nine years with his son
Osman pictured holding a missing poster, which mentions that he missed out on nine years with his son (Inzajeano Latif/Migrant Help/PA)

Osman, one of the refugees featured in the campaign, fled Sudan for the UK when his son was three to provide a better life for him.

To reach the UK, Osman jumped on the roof of a Eurostar train as it went under the tunnel because “he was desperate to send money back to his son” despite the dangers.

He was reunited with his son two years ago, but missed nine years with him.

Osman said: “I missed playing with my son when he was a small baby. I left him at three years old and only met him again when he is nearly a teenager.

Siki wearing a blue and white gillet and looking at the camera
Siki missed nine years with his son (Inzajeano Latif/Migrant Help/PA)

“He is poor at communication. For nine years he did not play with other kids… and his mental health is poor. But I try and do the best for him. I pay all the price for him to get a better life and education to keep his future bright.”

Other refugees pictured, however, have not been able to reunite with their loved ones.

Siki, who left the Central Africa Republic due to local violence in 2014 and spent time in Cameroon, Morocco and Djibouti before arriving in the UK, is pictured holding a poster which reads: “Missing: My sister’s cooking. Last tasted eight years ago.”