Alhussein Ahmed fled the bloody civil war in Sudan in 2008 but it would take another two years through six countries, two stays in detention and a network of human smugglers before he would reach the UK to claim asylum.
Alhussein shared his story Saturday at the Fortress Europe conference hosted by Student Action for Refugees, which also heard from several other speakers from UNHCR, the Refugee Council and Asylum Aid.
Albussein hid from the authorities in Egypt to avoid deportation, survived a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece when his inflatable boat sank and was locked in immigration detention twice in Athens when he tried to fly to the UK on a fake passport.
Alhussein finally made it to Calais and travelled to England via bus. Not on a bus, but under it, clutching onto the axle between the wheels, watching the pavement fly by during a four hour journey that must have felt like an eternity. Alhussein said he’ll never forget the face of the first man who helped him, someone who spoke Arabic and gave him enough money to get to Croydon, where he applied for asylum.
But that didn’t signal the end of his journey. Alhussein couldn’t work or study while he waited for his asylum claim to be processed. Alhussein is now an outspoken refugee advocate, telling his story in order to put a face to an often misunderstood issue.
He said there’s a lot of media coverage about the plight of Syrian refugees but very few media organizations are reporting on the continuing violence in Sudan.
“The kids are hiding in caves because of the bombs,” he said. “There are many reasons why I left my country: because of discrimination and violence…because of the way I was been treated, very degrading. No one has the right to treat me that way.”
Alhussein said he cringes at the way asylum seekers are portrayed in the media, particularly Prime Minister David Cameron’s statements referring to asylum seekers as “swarms.” He also saw a headline calling Calais a war zone.
Having stayed there before his journey to the UK, he knows that’s not the case. Alhussein instead reveals the dire state of affairs refugees face: “We are not dangerous. We came here because our lives were in danger.”
Katie DeRosa, Staff Writer
If you want to learn more about Sudanese refugees, check out the official screening of God Grew Tired of Us on Thursday night at 6 p.m. in PAR 102, on the LSE campus. The award-winning documentary, narrated by Nicole Kidman, God Grew Tired of Us explores the indomitable spirit of three “Lost Boys” from the Sudan who are forced to leave their homeland due to a tumultuous civil war. The screening is part of LSESU Amnesty International’s first campaign, Refugee and Asylum Seekers’ Awareness Week.
Come check out our amnesty booth on campus, Monday to Friday between 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.