Maidenhead faith leaders petition Theresa May over 15-year-old refugee

James Harrison

Faith leaders from Maidenhead who visited Calais to see the plight of refugees have petitioned the Prime Minister to help one of the youngsters they met.

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan and Fr John Lee, who visited the port town in France last month, were joined by the Rev Sally Lynch at Maidenhead Town Hall on Friday.

They were hoping to get Maidenhead MP Theresa May to agree to help in the case of Dawit, a 15-year-old from Eritrea who has a legal right to come to the UK, but has so far been prevented from doing so due to French bureaucracy.

Rabbi Sheridan said: “Dawit is trying to get to his brother in England, who is currently studying for his A-levels and wants to be a chemical engineer. Dawit has been trying to get to England but has had not been able to get through the bureaucracy.

“So we had a letter from both [Dawit and his brother, Tekle] asking Theresa May to intervene and she agreed to take it up with the Home Office.”

Under the terms of the EU’s Dublin III convention, refugees have a legal right to be reunited with family members.

And for Rabbi Sheridan, a child of German-Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, both young people present the possibility of being assets to the UK, not simply burdens on the state.

“It certainly changed my attitude,” she said about her trip to Calais.

“I had this sense of hordes of teenage boys, slightly menacing and slightly scary.

“But then I met Dawit and he is a very shy, quiet young man.

“So many of the people we met are so gentle and nice and have managed to hold on, despite everything, to their humanity and gentleness and I think he would be a great asset to this country.”


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