Banire Sy Savane, a 21-year-old asylum seeker from Sierra Leone, whose case IRR News highlighted last week, has been released from Dover Immigration Removal Centre.
Banire won a last-minute reprieve from his planned deportation, after a campaign by the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group. The group collected dozens of letters of support and drew publicity to his case, after he was detained on 21 June 2004 and taken to Dover Immigration Removal Centre. The campaign helped Banire obtain legal representation and, on 8 July, he was released without bail: a tacit admission, his supporters say, that he should never have been detained in the first place.
Banire is well-known in Swansea as the founder of the World Stars multi-ethnic football team, of which he is the captain. He is also widely active in the local community as a volunteer for the British Red Cross, the Welsh Refugee Council, Swansea Bay Race Equality Council, Displaced People in Action and the African Community Centre.
When Banire Sy Savane was fourteen, his father was killed by rebels who took over his home town in Sierra Leone. When they withdrew, they took Banire and other boys with them and held them captive for a year. Eventually a priest helped them escape. Banire fled to the UK, arriving at Heathrow in January 2002, where he claimed asylum.
While in Swansea, Banire has attempted to contact possible surviving members of his family through the International Red Cross tracing service, but without success. His only family is now in Cardiff, where he has a four-month-old son.