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Save disabled student Kelechi from persecution #SaveKelechi

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Home office rejects asylum seeker’s plea to remain in the UK for fear for her life in Nigeria as a disabled woman suffering from mental health issues, stating the reasons ‘insufficient’.

Kelechi Chioba is a young woman, and keen volunteer for the National Union of Students (NUS) Disabled Students Campaign and Black Students Campaign, currently placed in home office accommodation in Derby who has asked for asylum on the grounds that she fears ill treatment from her parents and family members in Nigeria because of her disability. Kelechi suffers from polio, is wheelchair bound and suffers from mental health problems. In Nigeria, she is regarded as a curse and a source of  shame upon her family, due to her disability. She has suffered severe abuse at the hands of her family, including verbal abuse, beatings and attempts to end her life.

She came to study in the UK as a postgraduate student, having paid for her visa and fees herself through work which she had to plead her father to arrange for her in Nigeria so that she was able to pay for essentials. She was sexually abused in the workplace, which led to her attempting suicide in desperation. A friend advised her to apply to study in the UK. She came to the UK to escape the abuse, her mental health and disability worsened however, and whilst arriving needing only crutches she later became wheelchair-bound, which then led to cause damage in her arm meaning she is reliant on a electric wheelchair. Her brother and sister, who arrived in the UK before her have been caring for her, however she fears that returning to Nigeria would mean they would succumb again to the societal pressures and strong influence of culture and kinship in Nigeria that discriminates against disabled individuals.

Having to cover the costs of the wheelchair herself, financial hardship meant she could not complete her course. This made it impossible to apply for extra leave when her student visa ran out. Seeking help from the advice bureau on how to remain permanently, they told her she would need to give up her student status and make a fresh application that would now need to be made from Nigeria. 

She made a human rights’ appeal for her case for fear of prosecution and discrimination, which was rejected by the Home Office. It is a human right that no one shall be subject to torture or inhuman treatment, and that everybody's life should be protected by law. It is reprehensible that the government can say 'there was nothing sufficiently serious in the family or private life circumstances that could possibly outweigh the need for immigration controls to be enforced' when,  if she returns Kelechi fears that she will face further abuse, and be put in a psychiatric home. Having witnessed patients in psychiatric care being chained up and forced to take medication, she fears for her life.

We should not have an immigration system which devalues the lives of those facing oppression such as Kelechi. We have an urgent responsibility, as one of the world’s richest nations, to ensure that those fleeing oppression and discrimination wherever they come from, get the same right to a quality of life in the UK as any UK citizen. Whilst in the UK, despite disability and difficulty, Kelechi has worked and volunteered to better the lives of others and it is shameful that the UK government refuses to protect her from the oppression she unfairly receives because of how and where she was born. It is not for us to condemn others to persecution, hate and death as part of our immigration process.


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