Why did a group of young Kenyans decide to back a campaign started by Norwegian high schoolers to stop their classmate Taibeh Abbasi, 18, being deported to Afghanistan? Joy Wathagi, Amnesty youth leader in Nairobi, explains.

When I heard that Norway was going to deport teenagers I was filled with sadness and wanted to do something about it.

I remembered all the refugees that came to my country, Kenya. I have met people from Somalia, Sudan and Rwanda and seen that they deserve to live here as much as any Kenyan. I have gone to school with many refugees, grown with them, and they have become my life-long friends. I would truly hate to see them get sent back. They have embraced and grown in Kenyan culture. And there is nothing for them to go back to.

Afghan refugees are going back to the same situation that they left behind. It is cruel and unfair. They have become part of the fabric of Norwegian society and must be treated as such.

Joy Wathagi, Amnesty youth leader in Nairobi, Kenya. © Private
Joy Wathagi, Amnesty youth leader in Nairobi, Kenya. © Private

My biggest motivation to contribute to the #TellNorway campaign was the determination to save people’s lives and give them a chance to live in safety with dignity and purpose. It is very distressing to see refugees not being offered support or being ill-treated by governments.

It is my biggest hope that this campaign will put pressure on the Norwegian politicians to stop forcing people like Taibeh back to danger.

Saying “go back to your country” is the most thoughtless and selfish phrase that I keep hearing and it breaks my heart. As countries we need to provide support and not build fences. Refugees leave everything behind and all they carry with them is hope for a safe life.

We are all human beings on the same planet. As far as we’re concerned, #AbbasiStays