Separated child Gulwali Passarlay, who fled Afghanistan aged 12, was chosen to carry Olympic Torch in Bolton, now aged 17.

Stephen, aged 19, from CameroonStephen, aged 19, from Cameroon


Hi everyone. We heard the reason why people are leaving their own country to come to seek asylum in Britain, the process at the Home Office and going all over the place, how to settle in London. All those things help you to understand the incredible job the Refugee Council and others are doing in Britain. And I do appreciate what the Refugee Council have done for me personally since I arrived in this country.

When I arrived in this country, I didn't speak English. But now I'm standing here in front of you using your language, which I find incredible! When you read what is in the tabloid newspapers, don't take it into consideration, because what it is doing is absolutely wrong. It's only by meeting the faces behind the story, hearing about the struggles of individuals that you can really understand how important it is to support those young people, who are just trying to get a new start in their life.

In the last few years everything has become a bit difficult for me but, through the volunteers and everything, I hope to start my law course in January, which is something amazing, I'm looking very much forward to it and I hope that I will be able to defend those who are dying in silence around the world and who are not listened to, because I would like my voice to be the voice of those without voice.

And you know when there is any abuses, whether it's in Zimbabwe, Congo, Afghanistan or Darfur, we must remember that if we don't raise our finger in protest, we are making ourselves part of the problem. Therefore we must stand.

Just over 60 years ago people were horrified with what happened in the Second World War and it's precisely because of the horror that people witnessed that the Refugee Convention was written to protect people like us. But proving in Britain today that you are a refugee can be challenging and difficult, especially when you're facing officials who have some refusal mindset, which appears to look at how to refuse a claim from the outset, rather than taking carefully into consideration the facts that you give to them—and without any legal representation, something that is very, very difficult.

But as long as I'm in control of my brain—because sometimes it seems to me that it doesn't work properly!—and as long as I'm in control of my mouth, I will continue to entertain the dream and the hope that one day there will emerge leaders in my own country and region, on my continent of Africa, in Britain and all over the world who will not allow that any should be denied the right and freedom, that any should be turned into refugees like I am, that any should be condemned to go hungry, sick and homeless as many refugees are, that any should be stripped of their human dignity.

Thank you very much.