The two men were coming out of Calais’ asylum office when I first spotted them. One elderly, one younger. Clutching papers, they looked confused and frustrated.
I’d been at the office to try to find out what the latest procedure was for migrants in Calais.
I didn’t speak to them at first; I continued with my attempt to understand what options are open to migrants who make their way to Calais.
But once I emerged from the office, none-the-wiser about the migrants’ options, I saw them sitting in a British-registered Skoda.
We chatted. It turned out they had been on the same quest as me; they were on a hunt for information.
The older man, who introduced himself as Sahargul Sadaqat, explained that he was a British citizen. He volunteered his passport from the glove box as proof.
The younger man next to him, who said nothing, was, he explained, his son: 19-year-old Kamran.
It became clear quickly that I had stumbled across a father’s quest to rescue his son from the misery of the jungle.
Their story, parts of which are sadly impossible to verify at this stage, is remarkable. Sahargul explained that he successfully claimed asylum in the UK with his wife and two other children in 2011.
Kamran was left behind in Afghanistan because he had been taken by the Taliban with other fighting age teenagers from his village. Sahargul had considered his son lost.
But a month ago, a friend of Kamran’s in the jungle spotted a photo on Facebook. It looked like Kamran’s father, Sahargul. He had found his father.
From his home in Manchester, Sahargul travelled to Calais. He left his wife, Kamran’s mother, behind as she doesn’t have a passport.
That was three weeks ago. He returned to Manchester thrilled to have found his son but unclear about what he could do to bring him to England.
Migrants in Calais, growing in number again since the closure of the official jungle nine months ago, have two options.
Either they can take advantage of an ad hoc government bus service to take them to official centres where the long asylum process can begin.
Or they can stay in Calais, dodge the police and try to hide on trucks or trains bound for the UK.
Most choose the second illegal and reckless option because they know that if they do claim asylum in France, their chances of success are slim.
EU rules state that migrants must claim asylum in the country where they first entered Europe. For almost all that’s either Greece or Italy.
And so from the Calais migrants’ perspective it seems logical not to go to the centres but to chance it on the trucks.
They hear from their friends who do make it to the UK that asylum is likely if they make it.
I know a number of migrants who have made the Channel crossing hidden in trucks and have since successfully claimed asylum because they were fleeing persecution or conflict.
Despite this though, Sahargul seemed set on the legal option: a French asylum centre and then hope somehow that he can be transferred to the UK.
I meet the father and son again the following morning. The papers they had been given at the asylum office had a map and information of bus that was to leave later for one of the centres.
The bus was late; a chance for a longer chat with the men. Kamran speaks no English but Sahargul was keen to talk.
“Now I found Kamran, I am very happy. His mum as well, very happy. I buy him a mobile; SIM card and contract. He talk to his mum all night, speak with mum and sister and brother.”
Sahargul explained that while the family were living in Afghanistan, Kamran was taken by the Taliban.
“Kamran was lost.” he says. “Twelve, 13 people from my village, all eyes closed (blindfolded) put in the car, two hours drive, take to the mountains.”
He explained they’d wanted Kamran as a fighter or suicide bomber.
“He said: ‘(They) give me day training, learning. You go the Afghan government and British Army and American Army and you go with the bomb blast.'” Sahargul says, speaking for his son.
It’s not clear how, but Kamran claims to have escaped his captivity and then managed to travel to Europe.
Kamran lists the countries he passed through: “Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France.”
The bus eventually arrives and Kamran boards. I ask Sahargul how he’s feeling as the bus pulls away.
“Better now, better now. I feel better now,” he says.
The next steps are into an asylum maze. Someone official will need to examine Kamran’s story; talk to him; assess him.
Will he get asylum in France? In the UK? Somewhere else? Or will he be sent back to Afghanistan? Hard and sensitive assessments lie ahead for asylum officers in the UK and France.
All the migrants here and across Europe await the same fate.