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At Home: Unaccompanied minors, an adolescence in exile

29 Nov 23

At Home: Unaccompanied minors, an adolescence in exile

23 January 2023

A camp for about 100 teenagers was set up in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, square Jules Ferry. Caption
A camp for about 100 teenagers was set up in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, square Jules Ferry.

This is the story of Aïcha, Kady, Madihawa and Moussa: four young teenagers from Mali and Ivory Coast who arrived in France after crossing the Mediterranean Sea; four young teenagers who are trying to have their child status recognised by French institutions; four unaccompanied minors who should be protected and cared for by France’s child protection services but who can only rely on the solidarity of citizens and charities like Médecins Sans Frontières and Utopia 56. Their day-to-day lives in France and the stories, told in the mini-series "At Home", reveal the institutional violence of the French state against children whose rights are trampled underfoot. In four episodes, this series attempts to relate an adolescence in exile, interspersed with childhood dreams, solitude, determination, violence and hope. 


Once they are in France, the youngest exiles have to prove that they are unaccompanied minors in order to be eligible for child protective services. They undergo a rapid age assessment that often results in a refusal to recognise their status as a child. Those who choose to appeal this decision can refer their case to the juvenile courts but this procedure can take up to a year. In the meantime, the French state provides no assistance whatsoever, and they are left to fend for themselves on the streets. It is support groups, concerned citizens and charities such as MSF, Utopia 56 and Droit à l'École that accompany young people like Aïcha, Kady, Madihawa and Moussa, meeting their needs for medical, legal, social and administrative assistance. Approximately 80% of the young people on appeal who are being supported by MSF's teams in Île-de-France and Marseille eventually obtain temporary or permanent protection.

Episode 1: Kady

"My childhood ended when I left my country and got on a boat ."

At the age of 15, Kady fled Ivory Coast to escape from her father who wanted to force her into marriage. Today she has a boyfriend, has enrolled on a vocational training course, and she wants nothing more than to get her diploma. 

Episode 2: Moussa

"My dream is to have a place in France like everyone else."

Like many young people of his age, Moussa likes to play football and PlayStation. Today, he dreams of finding his place in France.

Episode 3: Aïcha

"Our parents have not been by our side ; we don't know what's going to happen to us tomorrow".

Aïcha has dreamt of knowing how to read and write well since she was a child. Sometimes she wonders what will become of her in France, so far from her mother in Ivory Coast.

Episode 4: Madihawa

"I really want to be a great basketball player."

Madihawa has always been attracted to France and the United States. He doesn't know what his future holds, but for now, he dreams of becoming a professional basketball player.

Produced by Médecins Sans Frontières

Written and Directed by Agnes Varraine-Leca Filmed

 Edited by Manon Tarasconi

Sound design-Adrien Vicherat

Translation- Mandy Duret

Post production- Loic Adrien