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Support grows to stop African journalist's deportation

HEARING:Bernard Mboueyeu with his step-grandchildren

TOP POLITICIANS are now backing a campaign to stop the deportation of an asylum-seeking journalist who allegedly tried to kill himself hours before he was to be sent back to Cameroon.

Bernard Mboueyeu, from Sheffield, was taken to hospital after he drank cleaning fluid in what seems to be a suicide attempt.

Now politicians such as Labour MP David Blunkett and regional Lib Dem Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Edward McMillan-Scott are supporting a campaign to allow Mboueyeu to remain in the UK.

Mboueyeu applied to stay in the UK because of fears of prosecution and jail if sent back to his home country. He fled Cameroon in 2007 after he was allegedly tortured for supporting opposition groups.

Immigration officials planned to deport him on July 16, although a judicial review had been planned for tomorrow (August 9).

However following the incident, the flight was cancelled and he was taken to Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire, where he was on 24-hour suicide watch in its medical unit.

SUPPORT:Mboueyeu with his wife Sharon

He is now believed to be at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire where he awaits a decision from the UK border Agency about whether he can remain in the UK.

Mboueyeu, who was a journalist for a southern Cameroon newspaper has received support from his local community including Sheffield Council’s Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed.

Mohammed, who considers Mboueyeu a personal friend, told The Voice there is concern for his welfare and the local community are fully behind him.

“We hope he is still in the country and is fit and healthy and well enough to come and attend the hearing,” he said. “It just seems very odd that we’ve got this hearing date but the Home Office were very keen to get him out the country.”

Mohammed said more than 400 people have signed a petition started on Mboueyeu’s behalf – and there are more than 1000 supporters on Facebook.

He said that the immigration officials were not sympathetic to Mboueyeu’s circumstances back in Cameroon.

He said that Mboueyeu life would be in danger if he is to return to Cameroon because of the past issues.

“No one is thinking logically about the consequences,” he told The Voice .
Mohammed said he has been in contact with Mboueyeu’s wife of two years Sharon and said she is “terribly frustrated”.

Sharon told the Sheffield Star that when she spoke to him following the incident he told her he would, “rather die than go back and face torture and death anyway”.

She continued: “I can't believe it has come to this. He's just not that kind of person. It must have been a last resort for him.”

The couple lived together in Wincobank, Sheffield.

They have won support from the local church where they got married, Christ Church Pitsmoor , trade unionists, and the Sheffield City of Sanctuary asylum seekers’ support campaign.

Campaign spokeswoman, Kath Grant said: “One has to ask the UK Border Agency why Bernard was able to access cleaning fluid, when UKBA know full well numerous detainees have chosen this method to self-harm.”

When contacted the UK Border Agency told The Voice that it did not comment on individual cases.

It is not clear whether he will attend the August 9 hearing.

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