Jewish sisters join list of blameless asylum-seekers facing deportation

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The Independent Online

Kamila and Karina Kaya, who are 18-year-old twins, want to be doctors. Ambitious, diligent and personable, they have exemplary college records and spend their spare time babysitting or helping in a Birmingham nursing home.

Suddenly, their education is on hold and this weekend they are in custody facing imminent deportation to the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

Campaigners said the harsh treatment the sisters, had endured was further evidence of an increasingly inflexible attitude by the Home Office to asylum-seekers and other immigrants.

The twins, who lived in Stirchley, Birmingham, have not been in class at Bournville College since they were detained three days ago and transported to the bleak Yarl's Wood detention centre near Bedford, ready for deportation yesterday afternoon. The Home Office had booked them one-way seats on a flight to Kyrgyzstan, from where they fled in terror in 2003 after the suspected murder of their parents.

On Thursday night they were told they had been handed a temporary court reprieve. But they are still in Yarl's Wood, waiting for the outcome of a judicial review into their case. Friends who have visited them say they are distraught at the prospect of removal and are showing signs of depression and illness.

The sisters have become a cause célèbre in their adopted city, with 86 per cent of callers to a Birmingham newspaper poll saying they should be allowed to stay. Bournville College is considering a city-wide petition in their support. Its principal, Norman Cave, said: "They are model students and have performed extremely well here. We are very concerned about the way in which they have been treated."

The twins' world fell apart in 2003 as shots rang out in their Kyrgyzstan home while they slept in a back room. They were smuggled out of a window by their mother, who told them their policeman father had been shot. As they fled the building they heard more gunfire.

Kamila and Karina, who have not seen their parents again and presume they are dead, were put on to a flight to Britain by an uncle, who has also since disappeared.

They rebuilt their lives in Birmingham where they were "adopted" and were found a place to live by the city's Jewish community. They rapidly learnt English, excelled in college and made many friends.

That changed in November when they turned 18 and, as adults, lost their right to stay in the UK. Since then they have fought a battle against the might of the immigration service.

Sharon Gray, the twins' social worker, said: "If they were sent back they would have nowhere to go. They don't know anyone there. I don't know what would happen to them there.

"You couldn't meet lovelier 18-year-olds. They are so hard working and are so popular. But now they are very low over everything that has happened."

Friends fear that with no money and no contacts in the central Asian republic they could be forced into prostitution to survive.

Tim Finch, a spokesman for the Refugee Council, said: "This is yet another example of the authorities picking on soft targets. Their first priority should always be to consider whether people they wanted to remove would be at risk in their native country."

Also at the mercy of the Home Office

* Afshin Azizian

Fearing he would be arrested for his involvement with the Iranian resistance campaign, Mr Azizian, 38, fled to Britain in 1995. Since losing his benefits he has spent much of his time living on the streets. Last year a petition signed by more than 1,000 people calling for him to be allowed to remain on compassionate grounds was presented to Downing Street. He is in bureaucratic limbo and is being given refuge by monks in Hampstead.

* Olivia Hayes

The 20-year-old Australian faces removal in March - even though she is married to a UK national and expecting his baby. The Home Office said that overseas nationals planning to marry here should apply for entry clearance from abroad and not arrive on a visitor visa. The couple are appealing for an exception to be made. Mr Hayes's mother is suffering from terminal cancer.

* The Diatezue-Muilus Jean Philippe Diatezua-Muilu, a political activist, and his wife, Pascaline, fled the Democratic Republic of Congo three years ago. They are regular churchgoers in Plymouth and their eldest daughter, Tracey, is in primary school. Immigration officers handcuffed Mr Diatezue-Muilu and told him the family was about to be deported. A judicial review of their case is under way.

* Gary Douglas

The computing consultant from New Zealand sold a profitable company, his home and possessions in 2005 to fund a new life in Cheltenham with his teenage son. He qualified for the highly skilled migrant worker programme. Mr Douglas, 46, discovered three months ago that the rules had now changed and he would no longer qualify. He could be removed in December.

* The Khameneh family

Churchgoers in Southampton have rallied around the Iranian family, who have faced the threat of deportation for more than two years. Khalil and Lisa Khameneh, who are blind, warned that as converts to Christianity they could face death in Iran. Their baby daughter, Ariana, suffers serious heart and lung problems.

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