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*'Why can't I be legal anywhere ?' : exploited and left stateless by Sweden* ❝Rahman* arrived as an… #mineurs_non_accompagnés - Seenthis25 Aug 2020, 10:24 am
’Why can’t I be legal anywhere?’: exploited and left stateless by Sweden
Rahman* arrived as an unaccompanied minor. Abused and deported, his future is uncertain but his European dream intact.
Rahman was out buying food when Spanish police handed him a €500 fine for breaking coronavirus restrictions. “I’ll pay this as soon as I get a residence permit,” he told them. He laughs as he recalls the incident. “Look how thin I’ve become, I weigh only 57 kilos,” he says. The 21-year-old Palestinian shows his skinny 5ft 7in frame over the webcam.
He speaks in Swedish mixed with Norwegian expressions – his capacity in both languages is testament to the nearly five years spent between the countries as an adolescent. They were formative years, where he learned that even apparently kind gestures such as the offer of a place to stay could open the door to unfathomable cruelty.
It was a time when no matter what Rahman suffered, the legal right to remain in Europe eluded him. His lack of status enabled appalling crimes to be committed against him, and it left the criminals unpunished. He has been exploited and deported but his dream of Europe endures. He has found his way back to the continent but the future is uncertain.
In October 2013, 15-year-old Rahman arrived in Sweden alone. Like so many other young refugees, he had heard good things about Sweden: children are protected, they get to attend school and feel safe, their rights are respected and almost all get to stay.
He grew up in Jordan, his Palestinian parents refugees from Gaza. Jordan’s citizenship laws had no place for Rahman, leaving him stateless. When the war in Syria was in its third year, his father wanted to send him across the border to fight the Syrian regime. His mother disagreed and the teenager fled to what she hoped would be a place of safety.
In Sweden, Rahman lived in a refugee shelter, started school and quickly learned the language. He played football in his spare time. But despite his young age and troubles in Jordan, the court of migration in Stockholm rejected his asylum application in the summer of 2014.
With no idea of what to do, Rahman left the youth hostel in Stockholm to avoid being deported, and cut off contact with his state-appointed guardian.
That is when he met Martin: a man in his 30s, with a shaved head and heavy gold chains around his neck. Once Martin understood Rahman’s situation, he invited him to a flat in central Stockholm.
When he got there Rahman was shocked. Some people were sniffing glue, others were using cocaine. He was given a drink – his first taste of alcohol. The night became a haze. Martin took him into a room. Rahman was struck to the ground and felt hands on his body.
The rapes and beatings continued for months. Martin threatened to kill him if he tried to run away. Rahman had seen guns and knives around the flat and did not dare argue or ask questions. “I had nowhere to go. No money. And there was no one to help me,” he says.
A lot of people came to the flat, and it was Rahman’s job to keep it clean. He was given takeaway food and drugs. Martin would call at any hour and send him off with a bag and address to deliver it to. He was sent on drug trips across Europe, for which he was given new clothes, a fake passport and a bag to carry. Rahman, usually on drugs, slept through the flights.
He is among thousands of children who have come to Sweden in recent years only to go missing when their European dreams are shattered. According to the Swedish migration agency, 2,014 unaccompanied minors are missing without trace since 2013 – equivalent to almost 70 school classes. The threat of deportation is often mentioned as a reason for these disappearances, as is human trafficking.
But no one really knows, because no one is searching for them. The police keep records but often do not actively search for the children. Municipalities say children no longer resident in their area are not their responsibility. The migration agency says it cannot examine the cases of missing children. In 2016, the UN human rights committee criticised Sweden for failing to prevent these disappearances.
Many, like Rahman, are vulnerable to abuse and traffickers. According to a 2015 survey by a Swedish government agency, most suspected child trafficking cases involved unaccompanied minors. At that time, no trafficking investigations involving unaccompanied minors had resulted in a prosecution.
To understand where the system was failing, I researched every suspected case of trafficking of minors in Sweden during a four-year period up to 2015. According to police reports and preliminary investigations, more than half of the cases involved sexual slavery, in which nearly half of the victims were boys. The police’s failed response to trafficking was systemic.
Rahman was one of those cases. I tracked him down in Norway. After several months, he had managed to escape Martin. On reaching Norway, he again applied for asylum and reported his experience of trafficking to authorities. Rahman and his lawyer felt the authorities did not take his case seriously. Because the alleged trafficking took place in Sweden, Norwegian police passed the investigation to their Swedish colleagues. Rahman did not trust the investigators in either country. They did not seem to realise how dangerous it would be for him to single out Martin with no witness protection.
Shortly after Rahman turned 18, we spent a few days at a seaside resort. Surrounded by glittering Norwegian fjords, he and his court-appointed guardian sat outside on a mild summer evening. He leaned against her with his big ragged hair and gentle smile. “She’s like a mother to me,” he said.
The Swedish trafficking investigation was eventually dropped. His asylum application in Norway was also rejected. Now 18, he was no longer technically a child. In the summer of 2018, he was deported to Jordan.
After nearly five years in Europe, Rahman struggled with the more socially controlled society in Jordan. He could not return to his strictly religious family: he now smoked, drank alcohol and wore an earring. Without a Jordanian ID, he had no access to medical care or hope of returning to education.
The police seemed to relish harassing him. They would ask: why were you in Europe? Why have you come back? He was even mocked by friends and relatives: where’s the money, the success, the expensive things? For a while he worked 12-hour days at a tourist bazaar for wages that did not cover his rent. After a few weeks he decided to leave again.
First he attempted to sail to Greece via Turkey but the yellow dinghy was stopped by Turkish coastguards. After a month and a half in a Turkish prison, he returned to Jordan. He had a Norwegian girlfriend at the time. As a European, she could come to visit for a few weeks. Rahman has none of these options.
His friends in Norway arranged for him to stay with people they knew in Kosovo and he planned to continue overland further into Europe. But he was arrested in Montenegro and sent back to Kosovo. He became severely ill and returned to Jordan. But he was already making new plans to reach Europe.
“I can’t build a life here,” he said in the summer of 2019. “I want to go to Europe again. I am never giving up.”
This time he went to Morocco. Rahman knew this was his most dangerous journey so far. “But I am going to make it, I am sure of it,” he insisted. Later that summer, he reached the Moroccan border with the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
This gateway to Europe is marked with high razor wire fences and monitored by drones. Migrants and Moroccan boys his age were everywhere, hoping to get through the border at night. Some had been trying for months, even years. Rahman’s plan was to swim around the sea fences, a treacherous feat as border guards sometimes fire plastic bullets at swimmers. His first four attempts failed and he was hurt in a fall before he finally managed to swim into the port of Melilla.
“I am so happy – I am in Europe again!” he said in a message.
Afraid of being forced back to Morocco, he stowed away onboard a cargo ship to mainland Spain. He was given a place in a refugee shelter and €50 a month to live on. But this assistance was cut after six months, just as the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe.
As we kept in touch over the years, I would always ask how he was and he always replied: “Good,” no matter the circumstances. He has to stay positive, he says, to keep going towards what he longs for: an ordinary life, with a home. He would like to study languages and maybe work with tourists as he is so used to meeting new people.
But there is little space to talk about the future right now. Rahman does not even know what tomorrow will bring, where he will sleep or how he will eat. He is considering two unwanted options: start selling drugs again or commit a crime deliberately to get caught. “If I get arrested, I have somewhere to live until corona is over,” he said.
Rahman’s European dream has brought him back. Despite the trials he has gone through, the stateless boy is now a young man but no closer to having papers. The asylum process in Spain is long, up to 18 months, and uncertain – and that was before the pandemic. He thinks of Sweden or Norway but doubts his chances. From Scandinavia to Jordan, he has never been granted the right to belong. “Why is that?” he asks. “Why can’t I be legal anywhere?”
*Rahman’s name has been changed and his photograph in the main image obscured to protect his identity.
Premières victoires pour les travailleurs sans-papiers grévistes du Chronopost d'Alfortville ➡️ 5 travailleurs ont obtenu leur régularisation avec autorisation de travail ❗ "Ce récépissé de six mois va leur permettre de travailler légalement avec leur vrai nom et d’obtenir à terme un titre de séjour" ✊ Le combat continue, une vingtaine d'autres grévistes attendent encore d'obtenir les mêmes reconnaissances. Pour nous rejoindre 👉 http://www.utopia56.com/fr/user/register Premières régularisations pour les travailleurs sans-papiers grévistes de Chronopostwww.infomigrants.netEn grève depuis six mois, cinq travailleurs sans-papiers du Chronopost d’Alfortville, en région parisienne, ont obtenu mercredi 4 décembre leur régularisation avec autorisation de travail. Une vingtaine d’autres grévistes maintiennent le piquet de grève devant le site afin d'obtenir les m.... Utopia 56 (Facebook)17 Dec 2019, 11:19 am
"Ce récépissé de six mois va leur permettre de travailler légalement avec leur vrai nom et d’obtenir à terme un titre de séjour"
✊ Le combat continue, une vingtaine d'autres grévistes attendent encore d'obtenir les mêmes reconnaissances.
Pour nous rejoindre 👉 http://www.utopia56.com/fr/user/register
En grève depuis six mois, cinq travailleurs sans-papiers du Chronopost d’Alfortville, en région parisienne, ont obtenu mercredi 4 décembre leur régularisation avec autorisation de travail. Une vingtaine d’autres grévistes maintiennent le piquet de grève devant le site afin d'obtenir les m....
“Déposer une demande d’asile en France, c’est un véritable combat. Il faut s’entêter et rappeler constamment. Moi, par exemple, je suis arrivé en France le 12 août 2018, je n’ai cessé d’appeler l’Ofii et ce n’est que le 21 janvier 2019, avec l’aide du Secours Catholique, que j’ai réussi à avoir quelqu’un au bout du fil qui m’a donné un rendez-vous.” raconte Charles Patrick. Cette histoire c'est celle de très nombreux candidats à l'asile qui arrivent en île de France. Des appels payants pour ceux qui n'ont pas de forfaits ouverts (à peu prés tous puisqu'ils sont d'abord là pour obtenir des papiers), qui n'aboutissent jamais ou presque. 47 minutes d'attentes et il faut recommencer à chaque fois. Ils passent des semaines, parfois des mois, sans que personne ne décroche. “En ne nous permettant pas d’accéder à la demande d’asile, l’État nous met en danger" ➡️ En attendant leur rendez vous, ces personnes n'ont rien, elles vivent a la rue, dans des campements, sans accès aux soins, n'ont aucune aides de l'Etat, et aucune reconnaissance. ‼️Cette situation n'est plus possible ! Les associations demandent un guichet physique complémentaire et que le délai de trois jours pour l’enregistrement des demandes d’asile soit respecté. Pour nous rejoindre 👉 http://www.utopia56.com/fr “En ne nous permettant pas d’accéder à la demande d’asile, l’État nous met en danger”www.infomigrants.netUn groupe de migrants soutenu par une douzaine d’associations dénonce “les défaillances” de la plateforme téléphonique de l’Ofii qui délivre les rendez-vous pour déposer une demande d’asile à Paris et en Ile-de-France. Chaque mois, des milliers d’appels n’aboutissent jamais et l... Utopia 56 (Facebook)17 Dec 2019, 11:12 am
Cette histoire c'est celle de très nombreux candidats à l'asile qui arrivent en île de France. Des appels payants pour ceux qui n'ont pas de forfaits ouverts (à peu prés tous puisqu'ils sont d'abord là pour obtenir des papiers), qui n'aboutissent jamais ou presque. 47 minutes d'attentes et il faut recommencer à chaque fois. Ils passent des semaines, parfois des mois, sans que personne ne décroche.
“En ne nous permettant pas d’accéder à la demande d’asile, l’État nous met en danger"
➡️ En attendant leur rendez vous, ces personnes n'ont rien, elles vivent a la rue, dans des campements, sans accès aux soins, n'ont aucune aides de l'Etat, et aucune reconnaissance.
‼️Cette situation n'est plus possible ! Les associations demandent un guichet physique complémentaire et que le délai de trois jours pour l’enregistrement des demandes d’asile soit respecté.
Pour nous rejoindre 👉 http://www.utopia56.com/fr
Un groupe de migrants soutenu par une douzaine d’associations dénonce “les défaillances” de la plateforme téléphonique de l’Ofii qui délivre les rendez-vous pour déposer une demande d’asile à Paris et en Ile-de-France. Chaque mois, des milliers d’appels n’aboutissent jamais et l...
extrait du rapport @MSF_france sur la maltraitance des MNA en France msf.fr/actualites/exc… https://t.co/IAvf0TZfRl
Crédit : Yasuko Kageyama / Teatro dell'Opera di Roma https://t.co/2OfP6OHnq7
👉 Après quatre ans de recherches avec l’aide d’un compatriote, Wali a retrouvé sa femme et ses enfants à des milliers de kilomètres de leur Afghanistan natal.
Un contenu LaCroixLHebdo
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👉 À voir et à écouter : 46 portraits d'exilés, réalisés cet hiver par @ambroisetezenas & Frederic Delangle au Centre Humanitaire de la Chapelle.
📅 RDV le 10 avril à 19h au @104paris pour le #FestivalCirculation
Chaque jour, nous pensons à elle et sa maman Taïwo et espérons qu’elles se portent bien et sont en sécurité.
Émilie & JK
France terre d'asile
RETROUVEZ SON TÉMOIGNAGE EN LIGNE
Le film #AtelierDeConversation est actuellement au cinéma accompagné de nombreux débats pour sensibiliser sur les questions d'accueil et de solidarité avec les #migrants.
Location: Paris, France
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My friend and former colleague Gary Lee posted this photo on Twitter yesterday along with this heart-warming response to a racist comment from you-know-who. (I had to edit what Gary wrote because of Instagram limitations.): .....”This struck a chord with me not only bc I’m Korean-American, but also bc I worked at the White House, for President Obama. I left the WH in 2011 for a Fulbright scholarship in Korea. President Obama knew I was leaving to learn more about the culture and language of my parents. On my last day, I went into the Oval Office and POTUS greeted me by saying, "안녕하세요". Hello, in Korean. I’m lucky bc @PeteSouza captured that exact moment. In early 2007, my senior year of college, I mailed my resume and a cover letter in a manila envelope to the Obama for America headquarters in Chicago. Two weeks before graduation, I received a phone call that a correspondence volunteer had found my letter in a mail pile. She gave my letter to her boss, who then called and asked if I wanted to move to Chicago to work on the campaign. That's how I got hired on the campaign. That's how I ended up at the White House. After my departure photo with POTUS, I left the Oval Office in a daze and ran into @kalpenn in the West Wing lobby. I recounted the interaction with the president and he started tearing up. "Why are you crying?" I asked. He replied, "think about what you just said. How incredible that is. On your last day of work at the White House, after your years of service, the first African-American president greeted you in your parents' native language." I started crying too. My parents could never have fathomed such an idea. My mom came to the US when she was 18, my father when he was 26. They worked multiple full-time and part-time jobs, opened a small business, and at one point, had only $20 in their checking account. They made incalculable sacrifices so their sons could have the opportunities they never had. They sacrificed so we could achieve whatever we wanted to. They could have never imagined that their eldest son would work in the White House....” (Google “Gary Lee, Obama” to read Gary’s complete comments.) Pictures from instagram @petesouza22 Jan 2018, 10:28 pm
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