The respondent to this testimony is an 18-year-old Afghan boy. He arrived in Greece as an unaccompanied minor when he was only 13 years old. During these years, he has been living in a refugee camp, which was taken care of by Save the Children. He reported that the NGO ended its project some time ago and that, when he recently reached the age of majority, he was left on the street, with no possibility to legally stay in the country.
In the last few months, while trying to manage his asylum application with the help of a lawyer, he has been wandering around Athens and sneaking into refugee camps to spend the nights. After two rejections on his Asylum application, he arrived in Patras, determined to try his luck and go to Italy – hoping to find safety there.
The next day after his arrival, on Thursday 23 September at around 1 pm he crawled under a truck that went on a ferry. Shortly after, at around 4 pm, the ferry set sail and arrived in Italy 23 hours later. The respondent says that he does not know which city he arrived in. From the data he provided, when compared to the arrivals and departures in and from Patras, it is very likely that it was the port in Ancona where he arrived.
When the trucks were leaving the ferry in a straight line, the boy remembers feeling braking and a bang. He heard the shouts of the lorry drivers arguing and, shortly afterward, the police arrived, inspected the lorry and subsequently also discovered him. There were four policemen, who shouted at him, forcibly dragged him out of the truck, and slapped him in the face and on his head. They spoke no English, only Italian. They took his belongings and took him by car to a police station about 10 minutes away from the port, according to the respondent’s memory.
At the police station, they took his personal information. The respondent thinks that he failed to apply for asylum: “I did it wrong, I said I wanted to go to Germany”, which the police ignored and made him sign a paper, of which he was not given a copy. Shortly afterward, he was taken back to the port and put on a ferry which left for Greece at around 6 pm.
During the first hour of the journey, a security guard accompanied him in the cabin. He then returned his belongings and left him alone. In the course of the 23-hour journey, he was only given some water. The respondent reports that from the time he arrived in the city Patras, got on the ferry, was discovered until he was finally returned to Italy – a total of 4 days – he did not eat anything at all.
When he arrived back in Patras on Saturday 25th at around 6 pm a policeman wearing plain clothes was waiting for him. He took him to the Commander’s House at the port, where they took his personal information and asked him about his administrative situation. The respondent recalls being told “If the police catch you again, it will not be good for you. Next time, you will go to jail”, and then he was let go.
After five years living in Greece, the respondent is waiting for a response to the appeal he made to the second rejection of his asylum application. “If they gave me asylum here, I would stay. I like it here”. Until then, he will continue to try the game to reach Italy to finally find properties of stay.