Three weeks ago, asylum seeker Pamela Izevbekhai prayed for a miracle that would enable her and her daughters to return to Sligo, the place they now call home.
Yesterday, tears mingled with smiles as an overjoyed Pamela and daughters Naomi (7) and Gemima (5) enjoyed an emotional reunion with friends when they arrived at Sligo’s Globe House, where they have lived for the past three years.
“I am so happy to be home. Myself and my children have been blessed with the people we have come in contact with since we have been here. We just feel at home here,” said Pamela.
But the campaign for asylum for the Nigerian family — who are fleeing the imminent danger of enforced female genital mutilation (FGM), which claimed the life of Pamela’s first daughter, is far from over.
Ten days ago, their deportation orders were frozen when a High Court judge granted permission for a judicial review into the justice minister’s decision not to use his discretionary powers and consider ‘a subsidiary protection order’ in the case.
Their struggle for asylum has also been taken up by Amnesty International. Campaign spokesman Shane Donnelly said the Let Them Stay group would continue to lobby Justice Minister Brian Lenihan to grant them subsidiary protection and so avoid a future High Court hearing.
“If the people of Sligo had any say, they would be granted refugee status immediately,” he said.
“Today is a temporary reprieve for Pamela and the girls but there is no guarantee of any happy outcome.” The day after the girls took part in the St Patrick’s Day parade in Sligo, the family was ordered to report to the Balzeskin Reception and Deportation Centre in Ballymun to await almost certain deportation after it appeared that all legal avenues had been exhausted.
There they have remained until yesterday when the department conceded to their return to Sligo. Their next court appearance is in May.
Source: Independent Ireland – 10 April 2008