Ex­iled twins re­prieved

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

A CAM­PAIGN by Jewish com­mu­nal lead­ers, Is­raeli diplo­mats and Jewish Agency of­fi­cials has halted Home Of­fice plans to re­turn teenage twins to their na­tive Kyr­gyzs­tan — from where they fled to Bri­tain three years ago af­ter their par­ents were killed.

Stu­dents Ka­rina and Kamila Kaya, aged 18, were ar­rested by im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials last month and in­terned in Yarl’s Wood de­ten­tion cen­tre near Bedford. They were due to be de­ported on Wed­nes­day, but in­ter­ven­tion — led by the Jewish com­mu­nity in Birm­ing­ham, where they at­tend the city’s Pro­gres­sive Syn­a­gogue — re­sulted in a Home Of­fice de­ci­sion to give them a fur­ther seven weeks in the UK, dur­ing which time the Agency hopes to fa­cil­i­tate their em­i­gra­tion to Is­rael.

Speak­ing to the JC from the de­ten­tion cen­tre, from where they were due to be tem­po­rar­ily re­leased this week, Kamila said that she and her sis­ter, stu­dents at Bournville Col­lege of Fur­ther Ed­u­ca­tion, had en­dured “hor­ri­ble” con­di­tions at Yarl’s Wood. “I don’t know why we were ar­rested. This place is like a prison.”

Her sis­ter de­scribed it as “a scary place. It is re­ally hard. They keep check­ing up on us, check­ing what we are eat­ing and what we are do­ing. They even watch us when we are in the bath­room.” She and her sis­ter ap­pre­ci­ated the sup­port they had re­ceived from Jewish and Is­raeli of­fi­cials. “If we can’t stay in the UK, then we will be pleased to go to Is­rael,” she told the JC.

The re­prieve came af­ter ap­peals to the Home Of­fice from the Is­raeli Em­bassy and the Jewish Agency, as well as Board of Deputies pres­i­dent Henry Grun­wald, Birm­ing­ham’s Jewish Com­mu­nity Care char­ity and the Pro­gres­sive Syn­a­gogue, where the twins re­cently un­der­went a be­lated bat­mitz­vah. There was sup­port too from Labour MP Lynne Jones, the mem­ber for Birm­ing­ham Selly Oak.

Rabbi Mar­garet Ja­cobi of the Pro­gres­sive Syn­a­gogue told the JC: “We are de­lighted that the Home Of­fice has de­cided to give us more time.” The girls had been en­cour­aged by phone calls and vis­its from the Jewish com­mu­nity, but were still con­cerned about what might hap­pen to them. “There is noth­ing for them in Kyr­gyzs­tan. They could be in dan­ger if they re­turn.”

They had fled Kyr­gyzs­tan af­ter their fa­ther, a mil­i­tary po­lice of­fi­cer, was shot dead. Their mother was also killed af­ter she smug­gled them out of their house and passed them to an un­cle who man­aged to put them on a plane to Bri­tain. The mo­tive for the killings of their par­ents is un­clear.

Sharon Grey, a so­cial worker for Jewish Com­mu­nity Care, said the Kayas were set­tled in Birm­ing­ham and their hous­ing had been ar­ranged by the char­ity. They had learned English and were do­ing well at col­lege.

How­ever, when they turned 18 last month, they were told their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion had been re­jected. “Of­fi­cers took them to the de­ten­tion cen­tre and said they would be de­ported on Jan­uary 3. One of them col­lapsed from shock.”

A Jewish Agency spokesman said it was still wait­ing for the Home Of­fice to re­lease orig­i­nal copies of the twins’ birth cer­tifi­cates, but of­fi­cials would visit them to start the process for aliyah. Once in Is­rael the twins would be re­ceived in an ab­sorp­tion cen­tre.

A Home Of­fice of­fi­cial said: “We do not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases.”

Saved from de­por­ta­tion — for now: Kamila and Ka­rina Kaya

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