Jamal, Mohammed, and Isayas - Refugee Council

Jamal, Mohammed, and Isayas

Three teenage boys describe not being believed about their age, and their worries in adult accommodation.

Jamal*, Mohammed* and Isayas* arrived in Dover after a dangerous and difficult journey to the UK, but their problems were not over. Instead, they were classified as adults and sent to an adult hotel, where they feel worried and unsafe. They tell us their stories, and why they want to get their age corrected and go to school. Shockingly, hundreds of young people are being put at risk in this way.

Jamal* is from Afghanistan.

“When we arrived in Dover, they gave us clothes, and then they wrote our age wrong. They didn’t give us a chance to talk with them. We were tired, as well, and we couldn’t speak.

I’m 16 years old. They said, ‘you will correct it later, not now, we are busy.’ They said I was 25. I felt sad and shocked. In my screening interview, I complained about my age, and they said ‘after you will correct it.’

I live alone here, with adults…

When I arrived at the hotel, Caroline [from Refugee Council] tried to help. Other people tried hard to solve the problem. I’ve been in the hotel about two months.

I live alone here, with adults, I don’t have money, I’m worried about the future, I don’t feel good at all. I’d like to go to school, to start my education, and have a bright future.” 

Mohammed* is also from Afghanistan.

“At first, they just asked me about my name, but the age they wrote down was not correct.

I’m 16. I felt bad because I travelled by boat, we had a lot of problems, I was not feeling normal, because of the boat crossing. I didn’t feel well. When I saw the form—I saw what they had written down, I saw that it wasn’t my age. I said ‘it’s not my age!’ They had put that I was 22. They just said you can correct it later.

I said ‘it’s not my age!’ They had put that I was 22.

I’m sharing with an adult in the hotel.

We hope to study. But here we don’t feel good. We are under pressure.

Isayas* is from Eritrea.  

“They brought an adult person to share my room, I felt very frightened. It’s a problem. I have been in this hotel for almost two months. It is very difficult to cope in my life, with him.

I am 17. I am afraid of the people because they are older, I am not able to move freely… Normally I would like to go out, but at the moment I am spending most of my time in the hotel, sometimes I sit around the corner from the hotel.

I am afraid of the people because they are older…

When I came here to the UK, on my journey we crossed through so many challenges… Now the issue is here in the hotel.

My hope for the future is to continue my education, improve myself and my skills. I would like to study computer science.” ■

Read more about how hundreds of refugee children are at risk because they are wrongly treated as adults, in our report Forced Adulthood.

*Names have been changed.