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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 12:26 GMT
Final bid to prevent deportations
Bishop John Packer
Bishop Packer said Ms Nzoabar and her family were popular in Leeds
Campaigners have mounted a last-ditch attempt to stop the deportation of more than 40 Congolese people from the UK.

A protest was held outside the Home Office against the deportation of 23 adults and 19 children to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The refused asylum seekers are thought to be from Middlesbrough, Leeds, London, Birmingham and Glasgow.

The group includes Aseng Nzoabar and her six children, who have been living in Leeds for the last four years.

Her case has been backed by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, who wrote to the Home Office asking them to reverse the decision.

'Rough time'

Aseng, whose children are aged between three and 17, fled her country after she said she had been raped and abused.

Mr Packer said Aseng also feared her sons would be taken away and forced to become child soldiers.

He said that since she came to the UK in 2003 they had made friends in their new home in Beeston and the children had done well in local schools.

The Nzoabar family have also received support from the head teacher of Cockburn College of Arts in Beeston, Leeds, Colin Richardson, where two of the children are currently being educated.

They have been through a very rough time
Colin Richardson
Mr Richardson said: "They are really, really lovely children and they are doing really well here. The mother is lovely and they have been through a very rough time."

Protesters had urged the government not to go ahead with the deportation before a test case on 7 March.

Evidence is due to be heard that returned asylum seekers are at risk of inhuman treatment anywhere in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A Home Office spokesman said they did not comment on individual cases.

But he said: "This is about the integrity of our asylum system and individuals who are found not to be in need of international protection should be expected to leave the UK.

"Obviously, we would prefer voluntary returns, but we will work through with enforced returns if people do not leave voluntarily.

"We would only return those who are not at risk of persecution and do not need humanitarian protection."

Emma Jinn, a spokeswoman for the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, said: "My understanding is that all Congolese asylum seekers will be in some sort of danger because, even if they are passed over for having a political background, the authorities may try to extort a fine out of them.

"If they have no-one to pay a fine, they may be imprisoned and prison conditions there are really disgusting."


SEE ALSO
Bishop urges deportation rethink
22 Feb 07 |  West Yorkshire

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