AN illegal immigrant is plotting to live in the UK 20 years after he came here for life-saving heart surgery and was cradled by Princess Diana, The Sun reports. Arnaud Wambo’s operation was watched by the caring royal who later invited him to tea at Kensington Palace. Aged just seven, he recovered and returned to poverty in Cameroon, receiving thousands of pounds in aid.
The Sun tracked him down after he paid smugglers to get him into Europe. Now 27 and living at a refugee hostel in Germany, Arnaud proudly showed off the scar from his 1996 operation and said: “If Princess Diana was still alive today she would get me to Britain. I’ve always kept the photo of me with her. I used to call her ‘Mummy’.”
Arnaud had a hole in his heart and could not walk when the Chain of Hope charity brought him alone from Africa to the UK for surgery at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex. Footage of Diana wearing a mask to watch the eight-hour operation by Sir Magdi Yacoub was beamed worldwide.
She said at the time: “As you know I’m a great lover of children and the fact a little person can have a second or third opportunity in my country . . . I’m very proud to be involved.” For the next 18 years Arnaud grew up in a shack in Douala, Cameroon. But in February 2014 he tore up his passport and took money from his family, telling them he was going to look for work.
Recalling his 13-month, 4,300-mile trek, he said: “I paid people smugglers through Niger then up to Algeria. I spent most of the time in the back of a van driving across the Sahara. “Police stopped us many times and we had to pay them. They are all corrupt. Soon the money ran out and I had to phone home to get more.
“My uncle was angry. But I was so hungry I was eating food out of the bins. Even the goats were starving. They were eating paper.” Eventually he reached Morocco and spent a month near the border with Melilla, a Spanish city on the North African coast. Last May he joined 500 migrants who hurled rocks at armed guards to scale 30ft fences and cross into Melilla.
He says Spanish authorities shipped him across the Med and put him in a camp where he got food, shelter and a bus ticket to wherever he wanted. He hitched lifts to Germany last August. Now in the south-west town of Steinenbronn, he lives in a comfy room with widescreen TV, and gets £500-a-month benefits after registering as a migrant.
But Arnaud, who has three mobile phones, says he does not like Germany because it is too cold. And he cannot speak the language despite three months of free lessons. Instead he plans to marry a German or French girl and get EU citizenship so he cannot be deported. Speaking through a French translator, he told The Sun: “I could be stuck here in Germany for years.
“I want to tell people in England I am still alive so they help me. “I left Cameroon because I felt guilty about my father. I was a burden to him as a boy and feel responsible for his early death in 2011.” Up to 1.5 million migrants, including Arnaud, flocked to Germany last year during the Syrian refugee crisis.
There is a backlog of 350,000 applicants causing a massive public backlash. The IMF predicts four million more migrants in Europe by 2018. Arnaud added: “I met Diana many times. She was so nice to me. I didn’t want to go back. I couldn’t believe it when she died. “I was heartbroken. I remember when she was in the hospital with me.
“I hoped she would keep in touch. My dream is to get to Britain.”