VIDEO. "That really shocked me"’: Dembo, taken care of as an unaccompanied minor, then forced to leave France when he was 18

Born in Senegal, Dembo arrived in France at the age of 16. Alone, without family, on a simple inflatable boat overloaded with other migrants like him. In Normandy, the teenager was taken care of by Social Aid for Children as an unaccompanied minor. But when he turned 18, his life was turned upside down by a simple letter: France asked him to leave.

This letter is an OQTF, an obligation to leave French territory, sent by the prefecture. “Mr. Monekhata Dembo is obliged to leave the territory for the country of his choice, within 30 days. (…) If you stay in France, you can be arrested at any time, and returned to your country”, it contains in particular. “It’s hard, finds Dembo, it’s scary“.

A welcoming land for three years

This France, land of welcome, which has given him so much for three years now wants to expel him … Dembo does not understand. Neither did his boss. Martial Becker, the restaurateur who taught him his trade, launched a petition to support his apprentice and campaigned on social media to keep him.

“It was good, what they did: they took me in and educated me, paid for my accommodation, and everything … So it was a good thing, frankly, as a host country, that they did all of that. [Cette OQTF], that really shocked me.”

Dembo Monekhata, a young Senegalese subject to deportation

to “Special Envoy”

Taking a plane back to Senegal within thirty days, as requested in this letter, he cannot imagine. “I left home because my life was in danger, explains the young man. If I leave, I know I’m going to die. “ In Senegal, his stepfather, who beat him daily, once tried to kill him. The boy managed to escape.

An ubiquitous situation

Today, Dembo finds himself in an absurd situation: since he received his obligation to leave the territory, he no longer has the right to work, but he can continue his studies in professional patent. Exceptionally, Social Assistance for Children has extended its care.

Dembo has taken legal action to challenge this OQTF. According to the law, if they do not present a threat to public order, unaccompanied minors who have been apprentices for at least six months can obtain, exceptionally and “subject to the real and serious nature of the follow-up of [leur] training “, a residence permit when they turn 18. Pending judgment, Dembo continues to get up at 6 am every morning to go and learn his profession as a cook …

Extract from “Small bosses with a big heart”, a report to see in “Special Envoy” on October 14, 2021.

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