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Every minute, 20 people leave their homes to escape war, persecution, or error, according to the U.N. They are called refugees; a refugee is someone who is forced to leave their home due to a “well-founded fear of persecution.” The persecution must be because of his/her race, religion, nationality, and membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Refugee Boy is a novel written by Zephaniah that addresses the issue of refugees. It’s about a 14-year-old boy named Alem Kelo born in Africa. Benjamin Zephaniah uses Alem as an example of how badly treated refugees are and how we can treat them better if we treat them like normal people.

One of the refugee boys’ themes is love. In the novel, Zephaniah focuses on the parent-child love shared. When his father brings him to England, for instance, he says: “until the fighting stops me and your mother think it would be best for you to stay in England’

This evidence shows the selfless love for Alem by Alems father by saying “it would be best” to separate them until the fighting stops, Alems father sacrifices his happiness for his son’s safety. His father also says he can come back when the fighting stops, but he’s going to stay there trying to make it safer, which means they are going to try to make the country safer for Alem. This means that for Alem’s safety and comfort, they will risk their own lives and that is the ultimate gift of love from a parent to a child.

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Another theme in the refugee boy is ‘family’. When Alem is in England, he gets placed with an Irish foster family, the Fitzgeralds. They provide him with a warm home, an education, and emotional first, the Fitzgeralds welcome Alem to their home, then they enter him to a school, we can see this from the quote, “a very excited Mrs. Fitzgerald shook Alem with one hand… Alem, good news! I’ve just had a phone call from great Milford, you can start school on Monday. Isn’t that just wonderful now?” It shows that the Fitzgeralds are very happy and excited for him. They also provided Alem with emotional support, for example when Alem knew about his mother’s death they supported him. ‘When Mrs. Fitzgerald saw Alem in the dining room, she quickly put down the casserole dish she was carrying and went to him. She wrapped her hands around him and kissed his forehead. “You poor boy, it must be so hard for you! Don’t worry son will look after you!”’ this quote shows how they care about Alem’s feelings as they treat him very well as if he’s their child.

War is another theme in the novel Refugee Boy. “You are the product of two countries and Eritrea… they are pulling themselves and each other apart…” Alems’s two home countries are at war, and this has a devastating effect on Alem, especially because either country that he goes he is persecuted, for being the other race.

All refugees have different problems that they go through. Alem was a lucky boy because he had people caring about him in his parent’s absence. So basically, in this novel, the author highlights the plight of refugees.

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