Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Afghan immigrant children brave the unbearable

Alarabiya.net English

Unlike most of Europe’s illegal immigrants, Afghan teenagers are the world’s most vulnerable migrants who have escaped lives of abuse in their homes to end up as street children in alien countries. Those children who were f orced to flee their homes due to oppression, or asylums fleeing war are bearing harsh life conditions, with greater risk in streets of France for over a year.

The number of unaccompanied Afghan children in France is growing and reached over 300 in 2011. Sarah Di Giglio, a child-protection expert with Save the Children in Italy, told The Guardian that last year’s number of Afghan boys passing through a day center in Rome had reached 635. More than 4,883Afghan children were requesting asylum in 2010, the majority of them in Europe.
Blanche Tax, of the United Nations refugee agency in Geneva, told The Guardian that security conditions are deteriorating in Afghanistan, which Unicef described two years ago as the world’s most dangerous place to be a child in. From January to September last year, she said, 1,600 children were reported killed or injured, 55 percent more than the previous year.

Meanwhile, a report to the general assembly of the U.N. Security Council on December 13, 2011condemned the violence against Afghan children and indicated that the most frequent violations are the recruitment and use of children, specifying their use in suicide bombing missions or for planting explosives. It highlighted a recent rise in “cross-border recruitment by Taliban, as well as attacks on schools”. And it added 31,385 cases of “severe acute malnutrition” among which are landmines, sexual violence and forced labor.

The Guardian put in the spotlight the lives of young Afghani boys like Morteza and Sohrab who fled from shared their stories of escaping Afghanistan and how they were adjusting on Parisian streets ─ they talked about squeezing between the railings of a Paris park to sleep on cardboard among the shrubberies or in the bandstand, along with adult refugees. The writer describes the teens terrifying reaction when police raided a park and started to patrol it with dogs. Some of them bedded down under the swings of a playground, while others hid on the edges of a canal. More than 20 or so have been turned away each evening, to sleep in a corner of a park or metro station, or walk the streets all night in order to keep warm.

Despite their refugee status, those children have been able to forge a strong sense of community. Their misfortunate has not stopped them from playing football there or under a railway bridge, in teams that sometimes engage local boys. Nevertheless, their real challenge will start as soon as they turn 18, where they will have to prove their proficiency of the French language and start working in order to get a chance of regularizing their status.

Pierre Henry, managing director of France ground of asylum “FTDA” told The Guardian that “Some have spent one or two years on the roads of Asia and Europe in extreme conditions playing with the laws of survival, and we ask them to respect very strict rules in an education system that makes no allowances for them.” Yet some teachers stated that those who do make it to school have a dynamic effect on the class. Among whom is Romain Levy, the deputy mayor for Paris with special responsibility for minors, who said “because of their motivation they act as an engine and pull the other kids up.”

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