The young man in the photo is Chico, a young refugee, on the day of the performance “Untitled for now: an old fable” at the National Opera House, in which he took part. Chico, an extremely ambitious child who has already been integrated into our society, has received a negative decision to be granted international protection and his life is in serious danger if he is taken back to his country. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he experienced a dramatic childhood. At the age of 10, his entire family was slaughtered by soldiers. He himself, who happened to be away from home, escaped the massacre but was of course forced to flee his country, as he was himself a target.

Together with his uncle, they arrived in Morocco, where he lived as a beggar until the age of 14, and his uncle died shortly after their arrival in that country. He crossed to Libya by inflatable boat and from there attempted to cross by boat to the ‘safe’ Europe opposite. Unfortunately, the raft sank off Libya and many of his fellow passengers drowned helplessly. Chico seemed lucky once again (!) as he was rescued by an Italian merchant ship. He ended up in Turkey and from there he managed to cross by boat to Kos.

Chico arrived at the “Nefeli 1” Shelter of the organization Kinoniko EKAV on 24/12/2019. He basically spoke his mother tongue, Lingala, and very little French. But he showed admirable fortitude, perseverance and will to learn the Greek language. He participated in all the activities of the shelter, never missing a Greek lesson! With unwavering consistency, he attended for 3 years at the 1st EPAL of Piraeus (High School), following the specialization of Electrical Engineering, and graduating with a grade of 15.5 (!!) and with excellent conduct. All those who were around the young teenager speak highly of his character and the way he managed to integrate into Greek society.

After he became 18, he left our organization’s shelter and was accommodated in a semi-autonomous apartment of another organization. Today, at the age of 20, after the discontinuation of the refugee accommodation programs in apartments, he took his life into his hands and settled down with a friend of his age whom he met in our Institution, in a rented apartment, covering his own expenses. He found a permanent job in a packaging factory in Aspropyrgos (Attica - Greece).

Having regard to the above, it is evident that Chico NSECI undoubtedly qualifies for International Protection Status. The refusal to grant asylum is an incomprehensible decision, which has the characteristics of arbitrariness. As confirmed by international organizations and authoritative independent observers, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, ‘violent armed conflict, with civilian victims, is widespread throughout the country and the situation remains unstable, with armed groups committing atrocities against the civilian population’.

Moreover, it should not be overlooked that over the years, Chico has diligently and with dedication achieved his effective integration into the Greek society and the working life of our country.

Kinoniko EKAV, along with all those who have had the opportunity to meet this wonderful young man, will continue to stand by Chico, asking for the obvious, namely that he be given the International Protection he deserves.

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