Separated child refugee stories

Read this collection of refugee stories, by children who arrived in the UK after having had to flee their homeland without their parents because of war, terror, or persecution.

The sun has gone down

Kamran Foladi | Aged 18 | From Afghanistan

Kamran’s survival is as remarkable as his experience tragic. The account of his journey highlights many of the issues around the age assessment of children who are seeking asylum in the UK. Although he was only a child, the authorities treated Kamran as an adult, detained him for long periods and very nearly deported him, before they finally recognised him as a minor.

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My name is Kamran Foladi. I am from Afghanistan and was born in Ghazni Province in Afghanistan. I was only 8 years old when I lost my entire family. Only I and my younger brother survived as we were outside the house. One of my father’s friends took me and my brother to Iran to a place called Neriz. He took us to stay at a stone factory where between 25 and 30 people worked and each factory had a cook. We helped the cook cleaning the kitchen and shopping for food. We were not paid but got free food and accommodation. As I grew up, I had learned to cook so started cooking and working for a living. I found cooking easy. However, if we made any mistakes, we got shouted at, sworn at and slapped in the face and beaten up. It was especially while cooking macaroni.

I would like my voice to be the voice of those without voice

Stephen | Aged 19 | From Cameroon

When I arrived in this country, I didn’t speak English. But now I’m standing here in front of you using your language, which I find incredible! When you read what is in the tabloid newspapers, don’t take it into consideration, because what it is doing is absolutely wrong. It’s only by meeting the faces behind the story, hearing about the struggles of individuals that you can really understand how important it is to support those young people, who are just trying to get a new start in their life.

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How old do you think I am?

Aisha | Aged 18 | From Uganda

Before I start, I would like to ask everyone how old you think I am. Please – 16, 14, 13, OK thanks. That is not my real age. I am 18 at the moment. But when I came into the country, I was about 15 and I went to the Refugee Council and I told them about my situation. When they sent me to the Social Services, it was another problem because when I went there I told them the same thing, and they refused that I was aged 15. They said: that is not your age.

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They don’t tell you. They don’t believe you.

Adam Teneh | Aged 19 | From Darfur

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When I first arrived in England and I went to the Home Office, they brought someone to translate for me from Arabic… but I don’t speak Arabic! I said, “I don’t understand her and I need someone who can speak my mother language.” They said, “We don’t have anyone who can speak your mother language.” I said, “I can’t speak because I don’t know what you’re doing for me.” Then they said, “OK, you’ll have to come out with us and we’ll find you a translator.” Then I went with them. They said, “Sit down here” and they bring three persons and they said, “You have to go with these people.”

So that they can’t recognise me

Pierre | Aged 15 | From the Democratic Republic of Congo

I’m here since six months now. I came to this country because my family were persecuted in the Congo.

My father was working in the government. He was a member of a political party social movement. He was against what the government was doing, for instance torturing people and beating people up. He was absolutely petrified when he was seeing that his fellow citizens were tortured. Then he linked up with some journalists to leak some information that people were not aware of.

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My day at the home office

William | Aged 15 | From Cameroon

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I came here today to tell you about one of the longest days I have ever experienced since I have been in England. I am talking about the day I spent at the Home Office.

The person who had brought me into the country had just abandoned me in front of this huge building. I was standing there on my own. I was told later that this place is called the Home Office. I was forced to enter the building by an officer who asked me to explain why I was staring at the building like that. I quickly told him about my misadventure and he invited me to follow him in. This is when my ordeal started.

All of a sudden – they switch!

Thomas | Aged 17 | From Kenya

I’m just here to talk about life in London.

As you have heard, after going through all those ordeals in Home Office and going through some difficult experiences in life, we are meant to settle down and integrate with the community. Some of us may be posted outside London or somewhere else in the UK but for us who have been posted in London we more or less face the same kind of life in the UK, in the same context.

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Imagine having to flee your homeland because of war, terror or persecution. Imagine being a child or young person. Imagine not having your parents with you because they were killed before you left or were unable to leave. Imagine arriving in a strange country, seeking asylum, completely alone. Imagine having absolutely nothing.