Welcome home Elton!

BACK in the arms of his loving family, teenage asylum seeker Elton Ismaili today spoke of his joy at returning to Suffolk, declaring: “It feels great to be home.

BACK in the arms of his loving family, teenage asylum seeker Elton Ismaili today spoke of his joy at returning to Suffolk, declaring: “It feels great to be home.”

The 19-year-old Kosovan is back in Ipswich initially on a six-month visa, which he hopes will soon become permanent, drawing a line under his nightmare ordeal.

Despite a huge campaign to stay in his adopted country, Elton, who had fled to Britain at the age of 14 from war-torn Kosovo had been forced to return by Home Office officials who now deem the country safe.

He believed all his family had died and said he had nothing to return to.


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But after several weeks in Albania, Elton has now managed to come back to Britain on a temporary visa.

Speaking from his Kesgrave home in Bell Lane, Elton revealed details about the lack of support he received from the government once he touched down in Kosovo and his struggle to get home.

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And he also had words of sincere thanks to The Evening Star and its readers who have backed him in his efforts to stay in his adopted country.

Elton said: “When I got off the plane at Heathrow on Friday it was unbelievable - I was so pleased.

“To be back home with my family is brilliant. Hopefully I'll be back for good.

“I've been looking at the stories in the Star and it's just amazing. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me - I appreciate everything.”

Despite his broad smile and new-found optimism, Elton has been through a difficult time in his attempts to get back to Ipswich.

He had been held for several weeks in a detention centre near Heathrow before finally being deported on June 30.

When the day finally came to leave the country Elton said he was collected from the detention centre at 1.30am and accompanied by three immigration officials to the airport. One of the officials remained with Elton on the flight until he reached his destination, at which point he was left to fend for himself.

He said: “As soon as I got to Kosovo I was just left - I got to the airport and that was it.

“I got on a bus which took me to the Kosovan border with Albania and then I made my way into Albania, which is a very corrupt country.

“I made my way to Tirana and found a hotel to stay in which cost £12 a night. It was basically a room with a toilet.

“But it was hard because I was doing nothing in the days, apart from waiting. I didn't know what to do with myself, I was so worried.

“But when the visa came through and I knew I was going home I started to relax a bit.”

Along with the torture, which the whole episode has brought on the family, there have been financial implications too.

Elton no longer has his job at the Salentina restaurant in Ipswich and is not allowed to work during the next six months.

Elton was a year through a course at Suffolk College, which is now in doubt too, and the cost to the family of keeping Elton fed and in accommodation has totalled £1350.

But despite this, Elton said he is thrilled that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

He said: “I have six months to try to make my stay permanent and I will be home for Christmas which is great.

“Hopefully I'm back for good.”

n. How do you feel to see Elton back? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

ELTON Ismaili's foster parents today admitted they were concerned that the London bombings would have an adverse effect on Elton's chances of getting back to the UK.

Kevin Harris and wife Karen thought the government might have made a “knee-jerk” reaction to the terror attacks on July 7.

Mr Harris said: “We thought it would have an effect on him coming home, but it also showed the need for flexibility.

“It was unfortunate that the bombings happened so soon after Elton had gone back and we were concerned it would have a negative effect on his case.

“But it also sent the right message to Tony Blair to find the people that should stay and those the country should get rid of.

“They seem to be picking the easy targets. Three of the men who flew to Kosovo with Elton were paying their way in England and working and were not in any way causing problems in England.”

Mr Ellis also revealed he hoped the reaction from the people of Ipswich had helped to bring Elton home.

He said: “Although we never seem to get through to the Home Office, I hope all the representations people have made have made a difference.

“We want to thank the Evening Star and everyone who has supported Elton. “We're so chuffed to have him home.

“We've been fighting for him because he had no one.

“People said that when he left, there was no chance of him coming back, but he is. We know how quickly four years went so we know how fast six months will go.

“But it would be lovely to have a permanent solution.”

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