Anger at Afghan's deportation

NAEMATULLAH Rahmati was just 16 when he left his family and fled Afghanistan in fear of his life, desperately hoping Britain would take pity on him.Today, five years on, he faces being kicked out of the country next Monday , despite trying to support himself by working two jobs, learning a new language and falling in love with Tanya Barroso, the girl of his dreams.

NAEMATULLAH Rahmati was just 16 when he left his family and fled Afghanistan in fear of his life, desperately hoping Britain would take pity on him.

Today, five years on, he faces being kicked out of the country next Monday , despite trying to support himself by working two jobs, learning a new language and falling in love with Tanya Barroso, the girl of his dreams.

Through sheer hard work and determination Mr Rahmati, known to his friends as Matt, has created a happy new world for himself after spending most of his teenage years afraid and in despair.

But the 21-year-old, of Victoria Street, Ipswich, now faces losing everything once again because the immigration service say he must leave after a series of appeals on his behalf were turned down.

Even when he goes back to Kabul in Afghanistan he will be all alone, as his mother, Razia, and the rest of his family have moved to neighbouring Pakistan.

To apply to return to England legally Mr Rahmati said he would have to somehow make his way to the British Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, as the embassy in Kabul is in effect closed. Even then there is no guarantee he would be allowed back.

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Well aware of there are those who perceive many asylum seekers as people who live off the state, Mr Rahmati's boss at H&F Autos in Ipswich is furious his hard-working young mechanic is facing deportation.

Marcello Di Franco, owner of the St Helen's Street garage, is so impressed by the youngster's attitude and honesty, he is even thinking of making him the co-owner of the business when he retires.

He said: "I have so much confidence in the young man I am considering offering him a partnership in the business as time goes on.

"Matt is self-dependant and does not abuse the system in any shape or form. Apart from the early months he was over here, he's never been on benefits. He runs two jobs working here and delivering pizzas to make ends meet, so he doesn't have to go to anybody for anything. Tanya is devastated, poor girl.

"He is very trustworthy and is not just an employee. He has become a friend of the family."

Mr Di Franco added he is astounded at the immigration service's stance and especially the impact it will have on a small business such as his, to lose someone he values so highly."

Mr Rahmati met his girlfriend Tanya while he was housed in the Carlton Hotel in Berners Street, Ipswich, during the first six months of his stay in England.

The 20-year-old, who now lives with him, is extremely concerned about what will happen to her boyfriend if he has to leave England.

She said: "I'm really worried if he is unable to get back and if he is going to be safe. I'm am stressed and can't sleep properly."

Her mum Karen is also upset with what she sees as the unfair treatment of Mr Rahmati by the British authorities.

She said: "Matt's lovely. He's a really nice guy. I feel awful. The whole family is devastated. I have got two other daughters who almost consider him as their brother.

"Matt's worked ever so hard. It does not seem fair. He's worked so hard to put himself through college. I don't know what else he could have done."

What do you think of Matt being deported? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

'MATT' Rahmati was all alone when he arrived in England on January 22, 2000.

No older than a Year 11 schoolboy, the frightened young boy had travelled alone for thousands of miles in the hope of building a life for himself, free from fear, prejudice and the shadow of death.

He asked for relatively little. His biggest request of a country he was to see as his salvation was to be to be given a chance to work his way up from nothing to be a useful member of society.

Mr Rahmati said he arrived in England after he was forced to flee Afghanistan to escape the Taliban regime which executed his father Haji Fazmohammed, after he was captured while fighting for the rebel Mujaheeden.

Following his father's death, the fanatics tried to conscript the teenager from Kabul into their army.

Twice Mr Rahmati, a Shia Muslim from the Hazara group, which was persecuted by the Taliban ran away from the hard-line regime, despite the beatings he took when they caught up with him.

He said: "I was the oldest male. My big brother was not in the country at the time. He moved to Pakistan. I was the main target."

Before they could grab him for a third time, Mr Rahmati said his family paid a people trafficker to get him out of the country.

After fleeing over the Pakistan border he travelled by road and rail until he boarded a ship in the back of a lorry bound for Felixstowe with other asylum seekers.

Mr Rahmati said: "I couldn't see where I was going. I didn't know where I was going to end up."

Because the sea was so rough, he said they were forced to jump out of the lorry while aboard and plead for a safe haven. Immigration officers were called and they were allowed into England.

On his own in a strange country and at an age when British youngsters would expect to still be in school he was put into the Carlton Hotel in Ipswich, and quickly set about trying to create a life in which he could pay off his debt to society.

Mr Rahmati, who now speaks excellent English, said: "I went to college for three months and learned the language. When I came here I couldn't spell my name."

After meeting Tanya, his girlfriend, her mum Karen helped him get a place on a mechanics course and introduced him to his boss at H&F Autos, Marcello Di Franco.

Mr Rahmati said: "She's the one who showed me the way. When I came here I was completely by myself and had to make a new life for myself. I was so relieved and relaxed."

After a year Mr Rahmati said he had not heard anything about his plea to stay in the country, so began chasing up the authorities with the help of solicitors and in one instance the Ipswich MP Chris Mole. For the next few years he was given a temporary reprieve and allowed to remain.

However finally, despite an interview, which he thought had gone quite well, Mr Rahmati was told he would have to leave Britain, because he said he was told his life would not be in danger now in Afghanistan.

"They questioned me about my future and what was going to happen in Afghanistan if I was deported and I said my life's in danger. The Taliban people are still there. They pretend they are civilians."

Despite a succession of appeals, his application to remain has been still been denied and he said he has been told there are no other courts he can legally appeal to.

"I don't have anyone left in Afghanistan. My mother and family went to Pakistan. If I go there I have no one to live with.

"I don't know what's going to happen. I'm quite frightened. I will have to restart everything afresh, but I don't know where I would go or who's going to pick me up from the airport.

"My deadline is the 21st of this month and I don't known what to do. I quite devastated to be honest. I've got a great life here. I've got a lovely girlfriend, we've got a lovely flat together and I would like to have my own business one day."

A spokeswoman for the immigration service said: "We do not comment on individual cases.

"In those cases where an unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC) does not qualify to remain here under the 1951 UN Convention or on humanitarian grounds, and adequate reception arrangements cannot be made in the child's homeland, exceptional leave may be granted until the child's 18th birthday.

"On reaching age 18 the former UASC may apply for leave to remain on some other basis, but if that application is refused, or no such application is made, he/she will be expected to leave the UK.

"If the young person does not leave the UK steps may be taken to enforce his/her removal.

"We are committed to the protection of genuine refugees who seek asylum in the UK.

"All asylum applications are considered individually on their merits by skilled caseworkers, in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Asylum will always be granted when the caseworker is satisfied - on the grounds of reasonable likelihood - that the applicant has demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution under the terms of the UN Convention.

"If an application is refused, applicants have the right of appeal before an independent adjudicator. Where someone has exhausted the avenues of appeal open to them under the Immigration Rules and is found to have no legal basis to remain in the UK, we would seek to remove them."