Thursday, 26 November 2020

Afghan refugee goes from village school to living in roadside ditch

A REFUGEE from Afghanistan who was educated at Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common has spoken of his struggle to return to Britain.

The 22-year-old, named only as Sattar, entered the country when he was 13 after fleeing violence in Logar province in his homeland.

However, his right to stay was revoked by the Home Office when he was 17 and he was deported two years later.

Now he and several dozen of his fellow countrymen are living in a roadside ditch about 30 miles from Calais, where authorities recently cleared and bulldozed the huge refugee camp known as “The Jungle”.

Sattar, who was sent away by his parents and spoke no English when he arrived in Britain, lived with a foster family in Reading and received extra language tuition as part of his studies at Chiltern Edge. After passing his GCSEs, he sat a BTEC in business, travel and tourism at a college in the Reading area and passed with distinction.

He then lived in Birmingham and worked in a poultry plant for a short period.

The authorities cancelled his discretionary leave to remain because Kabul province, which borders the area where he lived, was deemed safe to return to.

Sattar spent some time in Italy before returning to France, from where he plans to return to the UK and appeal against his deportation.

He told The Guardian he had twice climbed into lorries on the motorway near Calais in the hope of smuggling himself over the Channel but was caught at the port on both occasions. He has not told his birth family that he is no longer in Britain as he doesn’t want to upset them.

Sattar said: “It would break their hearts. Whenever I call them, I say I am safe, having a good life.

“It’s not good here. When it rains, your clothes get wet and it’s muddy everywhere.”

He said he could expect a better quality of life in this country as he could work for a living rather than begging.

Sattar said: “In Paris, I saw people who have been given 10 years’ leave to remain in France, who are still sleeping in the park and sitting outside churches asking for money. That’s not a life.

“In Reading, I had the best time of my life. I grew up there.”

Charities say the refugee population in parts of France has increased tenfold in the past four months due to ongoing conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

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