Ipswich father fears being sent back to Iraq after eight years of limbo


Refugee - Credit: Archant

A father-of-two who travelled for 15 days in the back of a lorry to flee war-torn Iraq has spoken of his fear of being sent back to the country that is now under Isis control.

Mohammed Ismail, of Valley Road, Ipswich, was given a deportation order eight years ago after serving a 12-month prison sentence for working illegally.

Since then he has been waiting in limbo, unable to work, drive or even have a home, and reliant on friends.

Mr Ismail is a Kurd who lived in Diyala, Iraq, during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Both his father and brother were killed in the conflict.

In a bid to find sanctuary, Mr Ismail sought the help of a trafficker smuggling refugees into the UK.

He lived in Liverpool before moving to Ipswich in 2004 and started working illegally in a factory in Bury St Edmunds. Mr Ismail was caught by the Home Office and sent to Norwich prison for 12 months.

The 32-year-old has two children – Esme, two, and Aneaha, one – with a Suffolk woman from whom he is now separated.

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He learnt English in prison and has since gained a qualification in reading and writing from Suffolk New College, paid for by Suffolk Refugee Support (SRS), which is helping him with his case.

“I came to England when Saddam Hussein was in power because I don’t have my family – my dad and brother were killed – and I didn’t want to stay,” Mr Ismail said.

“I didn’t want to do anything wrong, I just wanted to work. I didn’t have anywhere to live and it is difficult if you don’t have any family in this country. I could do something much better in this country, but a life like this you are always just waiting for a friend or someone to help you.”

Mr Ismail said he had aspirations to become a mechanic in the future, to provide a good life for his two children.

Ian Stewart, chairman of SRS, said Mr Ismail was in a position like thousands of others who came to the UK in the early 2000s when the immigration system “collapsed” because lots of people were claiming asylum but there were not enough civil servants to deal with the influx.

“So we had quite a number, even in Suffolk, who were waiting for a decade or more for a final decision to be made,” Mr Stewart added.

“Now almost all of those decisions have been made but it’s left some people in limbo because they have lost their case but they are not being deported because of the countries they come from are too dangerous to send them back.”

Diyala is now occupied by the jihadist extremist militant group Islamic State, known as Isis.