Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 14:18 UK

Woman 'not in danger' if removed

Yarslwood detention centre
Kemi Ayinde and her family are being held at Yarslwood detention centre

A Nigerian woman who says she fears for her life if removed from the UK is not considered to be "at risk," according to Home Office documents.

Kemi Ayinde, her partner Taiwo Salami and daughter were living in Cardiff before being taken to a Bedfordshire detention centre on 17 June.

In a letter seen by the BBC refusing her asylum claim, the Home Office said there was state protection in Nigeria.

The UK Border Agency said it would not remove someone at risk of serious harm.

Ms Ayinde, 24, who is pregnant with her second child, was trafficked to the UK in 2001 and worked as a prostitute in a house in London until her escape in 2004 when she became homeless.

She said in an interview with the Home Office that she was told by a woman she met in Nigeria and who trafficked her she would have to work as a prostitute for three to four years in order to pay for being brought to the UK.

There is no risk of persecution that would breach your human rights
Extract from Home Office letter

Ms Ayinde said this woman had threatened to kill her if she ran away before her work as a prostitute was completed.

In the asylum refusal letter, the Home Office said Ms Ayinde could relocate within Nigeria and state protection for people who had been trafficked was available. As such "there is no risk of persecution that would breach your human rights".

It added that Ms Ayinde had not seen or heard from the woman since she escaped prostitution in 2004 and did not know where she was.

If she did experience problems, the refusal letter said Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons could assist.

But her friend in Cardiff and fellow Nigerian Favour Egbekayi said she would be in danger if she returned to Africa.

"These agents, they call themselves that, they are well connected. She will be killed," she said.

The family had been taken to Heathrow Airport early on Tuesday and had been set to board a plane bound for Nigeria.

High blood pressure

But after being kept in a police van for five hours, staff told them they were unable to fly because they had been told Ms Ayinde was not fit to travel.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Ayinde said she could barely walk because of pains in her back and stomach and a doctor had told her she had high blood pressure.

Her 18-month-old daughter Yasim Salami also has a skin complaint and the family have claimed they are not receiving appropriate medical care whilst being held in Yarlswood detention centre.

"They are not listening to me," said Ms Ayinde.

"I am a nobody. I do not have any rights. My hope is for my daughter, but I don't know what I will do if we are taken back to Nigeria."

The family are being supported by anti-deportation pressure group No Borders South Wales, which is holding a public meeting on Thursday evening, where the attempted removal will be discussed.

They say their campaign is supported by MP Kevin Brennan, AM Leanne Wood, and Neil McEvoy, who is deputy leader of Cardiff council.

No Borders South Wales says it is also seeking legal representation for the family.

The group and members of the local Nigerian community in Cardiff have been in regular contact with the family, although it is not known when the UK Border Agency will attempt to remove them again.

'Firm but fair'

Ms Ayinde met her partner in London in 2005 and they lived in Bristol together where he claimed asylum with her as a dependent. This claim was later withdrawn. She claimed asylum in her own right in March with Mr Salami and their daughter as dependents, but the claim was refused.

The family was moved by the Home Office to National Asylum Support Service accommodation in Cardiff in September 2007 and that Ms Ayinde had become very involved in the local community. She attended church, was involved with Nigeria Community Wales and took her daughter to the local play group.

"I was trying to make a life for myself," she said.

Ms Egbekayi added: "Kemi and her family are strong members of our community. If you are in need, she will come.

"If she is removed there will be a big gap."

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in Wales has said that it will continue to take steps to remove those with no legal right to remain and who do not face a real risk of persecution or serious harm upon return to their home country.

"We would never remove anyone who had been diagnosed as medically unfit to travel," he said.

"The UKBA provides detainees in detention centres with access to the same range and quality of public services provided by the NHS.

"The health of all detainees is monitored closely. Detainees are seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival, and an appointment is made to see the GP within 24 hours.

"Detention is a necessary part of our firm but fair immigration system. Those few pregnant women who are detained have access to the same range and quality of public services provided by the NHS, including midwives and health visitors."


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