In October last year, Theresa May spouted some words on the UK immigration system – which if not so dangerous in their implication, would have been laughable for their ignorance. This was the centre-piece of her ‘fighting words’ against im/migrants:
“What I’m proposing is a deal: the fewer people there are who wrongly claim asylum in Britain, the more generous we can be in helping the most vulnerable people in the world’s most dangerous places. And my message to the immigration campaigners and human rights lawyers is this: you can play your part in making this happen – or you can try to frustrate it. But if you choose to frustrate it, you will have to live with the knowledge that you are depriving people in genuine need of the sanctuary our country can offer. There are people who need our help, and there are people who are abusing our goodwill – and I know whose side I’m on.”
No doubt, May, we certainly do.
Departments like the Home Office, and other immigration authorities globally, have no comprehension of or interest in justice. The word, if used at all, is bandied about to keep the prick of conscience, for those whose social comfort relies on the assurance they have one, at bay. The real interest is in numbers – those on spreadsheets that are converted into those in their stashes. The rest can smell it for what it is.
Below is just one of thousands of stories of the very real, very deep, lived implications of what May, her political and corporate cronies, and her bureaucratic lackies are upto.
Kelechi Chioba has asked for asylum on the grounds that she has a well-founded fear of ill treatment from her parents in Nigeria because of her disability. She suffers from polio and is wheelchair bound, and also suffers from mental health problems, and she does not feel like she will get any protection from the state.
The culture of society means that despite laws being passed she would get no respect. She would struggle to get work (she got it before only because of her father), but more worryingly she has mental health problems (possibly a personality disorder) and she fears that if she returns she will be abused, she will be put in a psychiatric home (it is not uncommon anywhere in the world for patients in psychiatric care being chained up and forced to take medication. Given the shame around mental health issues, the level of abuse will be severe and her life will be in danger.
Kelechi’s fears are grounded in a history of physical, emotion and sexual violence that led her towards desperate actions, until she finally received advise to escape her situation by applying for university in the UK (postgraduate). Kelechi came here to study but was running away. But when she arrived at the advice bureau to find out about seeking asylum, she was told she would have to give up her study. When she asked for extra leave when her student visa ran out in Feb 2013, she was rejected as she had not paid her full fee (she had experienced financial difficulties as she had to pay for her wheelchair herself). They asked her to make a fresh application, but as her student leave expired, she would have had to return to Nigeria to make her applicationn. She then made a human rights application as she has a well-founded fear of persecution and discrimination if she returns to Nigeria. This application, too, was rejected.
The Home Office says they need to control the entry of non-nationals onto its territory and it is in the interests of public policy and “there was certainly nothing sufficiently serious in the family or private life circumstances that could possibly outweigh the need for immigration controls to be enforced in this case”.
Kelechi’s physical disabilities have worsened since coming to the UK – when she arrived she used crutches and she now uses a wheelchair. Her mental health was not diagnosed in Nigeria, but has also worsened since she came to the UK. She was recently hospitalised and upon leaving found that the Home Office has cut Kelechi’s weekly allowance down from £36 pw to £31 pw. She has been diagnosed with hiatus hernia which means she cannot eat canned/tinned foods while makes surviving quite difficult. Kelechi is still staying on her own in NASS accomodation now that she’s out of hospital. She must take two buses each way to the hospital multiple times a week, and this alone uses up much of the financial aid.
None of this however has stopped Kelechi from pursuing her case. She is in the process of making a fresh application – another in the line of many.
Some ways of supporting Kelechi:
1: SIGN the petition
2. DONATE a few quid and SHAREhttps://www.youcaring.com/savekelechi
3. FUNDRAISER – there was a fundraiser event held recently and Shelly and Piers from NUS are doing a sponsored silence and vegan week, donate here and get in touch with any ideas you have!https://www.youcaring.com/kelechi-chioba-493282
4. TWEET (#SaveKelechi) and EMAIL to your MP, you can find a draft letter here
You can use the Write To Them site to easily find and email your MPhttps://www.writetothem.com/
5. Wear a Twibbon in support of the #SaveKelechi campaign