A meeting with an asylum seeker and a refugee

A young guy appeared at church last summer from a country where changing your religion is forbidden by law. He told us his story, of coming from a mixed background family, belonging officially to one religion but always being more attracted by another. Eventually he decided to become a Christian and started attending a house church. The church was raided, some six people were arrested and the others scattered. He hid in a village for a while, then found a "guide" to help him get out of the country.

People like this often want to come to the UK because they speak a little English, but you can't get entry visas or get smuggled in so the "guides" instead persuade you to go to France or Belgium. Thus he ended up in France.

He subsequently heard that the leader of the house group had been found dead, ostensibly he had committed suicide on his release from detention.

So far our friend has been given a place to live - a shared room in an apartment near the centre of town - and he has started French lessons. In 10 days he goes to Paris for an interview which will be conducted in his native language to ascertain his right to asylum.

France has made various decisions :

1) to allow asylum seekers to enter the country

2) to then consider in France their right to asylum, followed by permanent residency or repatriation.

France has expressed its will to receive especially Christians fleeing persecution or civil war in the Middle East.

We talked about how in just 10 days time he would in all probability have the permanent right to remain in France.


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