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Dear Kitty
Monday, June 06, 2005
  Britain: Blair, stop deporting refugee children
Blair cartoon

NEWS LINE lead article: Tuesday June 7 2005

STOP CHILD DEPORTATIONS

‘A Rochdale head teacher, Jed Morgan, and the families of refugee children, travelled to London yesterday in a bid to stop the deportation of seven of his school’s pupils.

Immigration minister Tony McNulty had agreed to meet Morgan and the children’s families to discuss their case.

St John’s Primary School says the children, from Bolivia, Angola and DR Congo, are protected by international law.

The school says the children are entitled to protection from deportation under the international convention for the rights of the child.

Last week, several hundred of the school’s pupils, the families and their supporters, marched through Rochdale to demand their classmates are allowed to stay in the UK.

A 2,000 name petition has been gathered in the children’s support.

The families, who have been in the UK for up to four years, say they face being killed if they return home.

One family with a pupil at the school was deported to Angola in May.

One of those now threatened with deportation is six-year-old Brian Comacho, who his family claim witnessed the murder of his grandparents in Bolivia by political opponents.

The families’ campaign has the backing of the town’s Liberal Democrat MP, Paul Rowen.

The protests in Rochdale are the latest in a string of locally-organised campaigns against the removal of children from schools because they are members of families who have failed in their application for asylum.

Last week, hundreds of people demonstrated in Dover, Kent, against the planned deportation of an Afghan teenager from the town.

Children at the protest said 19-year-old Asif Aswary’s life would be in danger if he was sent back to Kabul.

Community Action for Young Refugees (CAYR) said Asif came to the UK in 2002 after his father was killed because of his political beliefs.

A CAYR spokesman said Asif, from Gillingham, Medway, was being held at Dover Removal Centre pending deportation on 11 June.

CAYR secretary, Dover councillor Wes McLachlan said the group wanted unaccompanied minors admitted to the UK to receive right of residence automatically.

Speaking of the planned deportation, he said: ‘This cruel activity is becoming more and more frequent.

‘This will only stop when the cold and uncaring immigration regulations for unaccompanied and orphaned children are changed.’

McLachlan said there were two other cases in Kent where young people were being threatened with expulsion from the UK.

Last month, the Home Office published figures on how many families have been given an amnesty because they had been waiting for more than four years for a final decision on their cases.

The amnesty began in October 2003 as part of a drive by disgraced former Home Secretary David Blunkett to clear the backlog of asylum claims.

Of more than 53,000 principal applicants identified as being possibly eligible, just under 11,000 had been given permission to stay in the UK, while 3,300 had been refused.

A further 3,500 cases did not qualify for other reasons.

As of 31st March, some 18,000 cases were awaiting a decision and another 14,000 had yet to have an initial examination.

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