Artur's bid for a new life

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Artur Graham does not talk much about the trauma of losing his parents in the Balkan conflict, or of spending months on the run in Kosovo with his brother, hiding from the Serbs in derelict buildings.

Instead, he talks about his new life: a happy home in Cambridgeshire with foster mother Alison Graham, a social life with his friends and his studies at college. He is outgoing and sociable, enjoys football and boxing and has a part-time job at Tesco to help pay his way.

"I want to stay in college," says Artur. "I want to carry on with my education. If I had to go back to Kosovo, I would lose part of myself. I don't know what I would do. I couldn't start doing things again. I don't have family there. My family is here.

But, as far as the Government is concerned, the UK's responsibilities to him ended when he turned 18 last June. From that moment, his rights to remain in Britain became the same as any other adult asylum-seeker. He must prove it is dangerous for him to return to his home country if he wants to stay here.

Yet, he argues that, to him, Kosovo is now a foreign country. "One thing that really upsets me is that I've really achieved something out of nothing," said Artur.

"I've done it all myself and I work hard, I really live as a normal person, I don't do anything wrong. I don't see why they have to make it so much harder work, for them and me, by fighting the case.

"I've been doing engineering at college for three years. People see me not just as fighting the case, they see me as a normal person. I've got lots of friends, and a normal family life with Alison. She's like my mum. You can't just take it away from me. It is asking Alison to give up her children.

"My friends have all been extremely nice, (as have) all my colleagues at college, and even the lecturers.

They've all asked me if there is anything they can do. There is no way I could carry on doing engineering in Kosovo. They haven't got the facilities and they haven't got the course.

"Me and my brother, we will never let ourselves down by saying we are going back."

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