A few months ago, the case of Saidu Kamara, a minor refugee from Guinea whose initial application for asylum was rejected last December, was in the news. Saidu was going to be deported from the time he would become an adult and his protection as an unaccompanied minor would cease to apply. Thanks to the support of his classmates and teachers, his case became more widely known. In April, his request for asylum was finally accepted.
The magic number 18… adulthood! It signifies independence and at the same time integration into the world of adults, responsibility, obligations… Within a day you cease to be considered a child. You are theoretically ready to decide for yourself: What you will study if you will work, where you will live, when and if you will start a family…
But is that so? Are we at 18 ready to face the responsibilities of adulthood? And what if in Greece you are someone like Saidu? If by the time you were 16 walked through countries to save your life and you risked drowning to get out of Kalymnos, then be brought to Athens and try to build your life from scratch in a country like Greece, which does not particularly like refugees?
The unaccompanied refugee managed to integrate into the school environment, make friends, progress, participate in activities, and acquire – let’s say – a normal adolescent life. But… his adulthood is approaching. And no, this child will not rejoice, he will not feel the passage from childhood to the world of adults as a conquest, but as a threat of deportation!
Under the law, unaccompanied refugee children living in our country receive full protection until they reach adulthood, and from there on they will have to look for new ways to stay in the country that was their second home for part of their lives. Otherwise, another uprooting through deportation awaits them.
And somewhere here, one really wonders about the rationale behind all these laws. On the one hand, they “embrace” these children, making valiant efforts to integrate them into a normal childhood or adolescent life, and on the other hand, as soon as they become adults, they treat them as fully grown adults, who should immediately find a job or hospitality structure or in general, a way to justify their stay in the country that until recently treated them almost equally with Greek children.
If this is not hypocrisy in a country that over the years promotes the principles of equality and altruism, then what is?
We forget, of course, that Saidu Kamara – and every Saidu in this country – could be a future worker, employee, doctor, teacher, a scientist who will invest in the place that welcomed him, while we prefer “ghost” children who are here today, but who knows where they will be tomorrow? Let us not forget that they are not parasites, but people like us, with similar interests and goals! Let Greece finally cease to be a simple passage, a stepping stone for their subsequent settlement in other countries. Let Greece become a serious choice for a permanent settlement for those who need it because the only sure thing is that the country itself will need them in the future!
We want more Saidus. They will grow up and continue to enjoy the same rights as other children. That they will study, that they will follow their path, as they define it. They will have choices and many opportunities. And friends and activities and whatever other people have.
We want more Saidus. And when they turn 18, they will celebrate it!