Sheffield asylum-seeker deportation blocked
Campaigners in Sheffield have been victorious in helping to block the planned deportation of an elderly and disabled asylum seeker reported in Unheard Voices yesterday.
Lemlem Hussein Abdu, 62, was released from Yarl’s Wood detention centre last night as the result of an earlier meeting between Labour MP Paul Blomfield, Sheffield priest Father Shaun Smith and the Immigration Minister Damian Green.Gina Clayton, chair of Sheffield charity ASSIST said:
We’re delighted at the outcome of the meeting. This is an exceptional and compelling case. We won’t relax until Lemlem has a residence permit, but following the Minister’s intervention we are very hopeful that Lemlem will soon have security and be able to live without fear.
Lemlem was arrested on Tuesday 19 June when she visited the UK Border Agency at Vulcan House in Sheffield to begin a new asylum claim. She was taken straight to Yarl’s Wood detention centre, ready for a flight to Ethiopia on Sunday 24 June.
However, a demonstration in Sheffield last week, addressed by both Blomfield, and the city’s Liberal Democrat leader Shaffaq Mohammed was followed by an eleventh hour reprieve.
Home Office minister Damian Green cancelled the Sunday flight and agreed to delay further action until the meeting in London with Blomfield and Father Shaun Smith from Sacred Heart Church in Hillsborough.
Friends and supporters applauded Lemlem as she arrived at Sheffield train station. The group paid tribute to the hard work and commitment of Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield and the faith leaders.
Lemlem said, “Thank you thank you, I’m happy now,” when she arrived in Sheffield train station last night. She has been released without conditions while the UK Border Agency considers her case for discretionary leave.
Sheffield’s campaigners say that Lemlem, who left her home country of Eritrea in 1978, would have been left destitute if she was sent to Ethiopia. She fled after her family was murdered during an attack by Ethiopian forces. Allegedly targeted due to their support for the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), which was fighting for independence from Ethiopia.
Sarah Eldridge of Sheffield’s City of Sanctuary said:
It’s hard to know exactly which part of the campaign led to the change of heart. But it has been immensely heart warming to watch the spontaneous groundswell of support from hundreds of ordinary people that sprang up in the space of a few days and led to Lemlem’s emotional welcome back to the city.