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23 August 2017

Giving Daniel Hope

Rosie Pope provides Casework Support at Safe Passage. Last week Rosie visited Daniel in a camp in Northern France to help him be reunited with his family in the UK.

“Last week I heard 16-year-old Daniel’s* traumatic journey from Eritrea- crossing the Sahara at the mercy of people smugglers and a catastrophic two-week sea crossing to Italy which ended in a rescue mission and Daniel waking up in hospital. He couldn’t remember the boat sinking.

Daniel’s struggle did not end when he reached Europe. He lived in terrible conditions within the Calais Jungle. But while he was there he was given some hope.

He’d been interviewed by the Home Office to start his application to join his cousin in the UK. This was Daniel’s dream, to live with his cousin. But months later he received a rejection from the Home Office, a one-word answer ‘cousin’. What could that possibly mean?

Safe Passage’s partner legal teams are now working diligently to help Daniel appeal the refusal from the Home Office in order to allow him to join his cousin in the UK. In the meantime, influence from people smugglers means he believes his chances are best living in a makeshift encampment. He feels let down by the authorities and no amount of persuasion will convince him to re-enter child protection services.

The conditions are terrible, no running water, no sanitation and a joyless life amongst adults of different nationalities. I was thankful to see that Daniel seemed relaxed and almost cheerful around a few fellow Eritreans, but I was brought back to reality as I left, passing a memorial to a 25-year-old young man who had been beaten to death by people smugglers at the same site.

Huge thanks to our volunteer psychiatrist and interpreter for supporting Daniel in the psychiatric assessment for a report which can be submitted to support his case. And enormous appreciation for our partner legal teams who work tirelessly on cases like Daniel’s to enable children to access their rights to safe and legal routes to asylum and family reunification. Children should not be required to live in these awful conditions at the hands of people smugglers; I hope for Daniel, this will soon be a distant memory.

* All names have been changed to protect the child’s identity.