In a case thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, three children – the youngest only three-years-old – are in hiding in Britain after their mother was seized and deported without them.
Rose Nammi claimed asylum in Britain in 2001 claiming that she and her eldest child had been raped and tortured in Uganda. Her claim was refused and a subsequent appeal was denied when Nammi was unable to attend.
Despite having temporary leave to remain, she was seized six weeks ago by immigration officials while signing on at a police station. She was detained at Yarls Wood detention centre on September 8 before being deported five days later.
Her children have now been without an adult carer for more than a month. They are in hiding in an attempt to prevent the Home Office from deporting them.
Social services are understood to be assessing the children, but are not thought to be considering care proceedings.
Human rights barrister Usha Sood, who is working on behalf of the family, said: “We are putting a case together but in the meantime if the children are identified, they will almost certainly be deported.”
Sood said the children had been made wards of court in an attempt to prevent their removal. Nammi’s eldest daughter, who is 16, has also made an independent asylum claim.
Cristel Amiss at the Black Women’s Rape Action Project said that women with dependent children were “a very easy target” for immigration officials and that large numbers were now being deported. “Their desperate need for housing and financial assistance mean they can’t simply drop out of official channels.”
“They are told to bring all their children and any medication with them when they sign on, which clearly implies ‘we are going to seize and deport you’.”
“If they seize a woman without her children they are making a choice to inflict unbearable suffering on people who are already severely traumatised.”
A Home Office spokesperson refused to comment on the particulars of the case, but said that where deportation was considered appropriate, every effort was made to pick up all members of a family at the same time. Where that proved impracticable, they added, the aim would be to reunite families as soon as possible.