Young refugees demand change

Report
from Save the Children
Published on 11 Apr 2006
A group of young refugees and asylum seekers are to get a rare opportunity to influence the asylum debate at a conference in Westminster on 19 April.
The young people, aged 15 - 21, come from a range of unstable and war-torn countries including Angola, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. They meet as part of 'Brighter Futures' - a Save the Children project that works to change perceptions of young refugees and asylum-seekers.

The conference will give the group a chance to raise the problems they face on a daily basis with an audience that includes MPs and the Children's Commissioner, as well as grass-roots practitioners such as social workers, immigration officers and the police.

The focus will be on experiences of racist bullying, barriers in accessing higher education and unequal treatment by social services

Jessica Nott, Save the Children's co-ordinator for Brighter Futures said: 'This conference gives these young people an opportunity to voice concerns about the hurdles they face in their everyday lives and express their hopes for the future. Many of the young people from Brighter Futures came to the UK alone, with very little English and very little confidence.'

Nassra, 17, agrees saying: 'As a young refugee in this country life can be very difficult - from suffering racist bullying at school to struggling to get into college and university. We want the MPs to help us to change the issues facing us. We are in a strange country and need to feel safe and protected.'

Ramatolai, 16, adds: 'We would like people to acknowledge our role in society and to change perceptions of young asylum seekers and refugees. We want to show that young asylum seekers and refugees are human beings like other people.'