Three years after contacting IRR News and launching their anti-deportation campaign, the Sukula family have won indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Daniel Sukula, then aged 15 and living in Bolton, wrote to IRR News in 2005 telling of his fears of being deported. ‘I am writing this because me and my family face deportation to Congo,’ he wrote. ‘I don’t want to go back to Congo because there is a war there and, if I go back, my life will be finished.’ IRR News visited Daniel and his family in their home in Bolton and spoke to them about their intention to launch an anti-deportation campaign.
That campaign went on to win the support of the local newspaper, trade unions and over 3,000 people who signed a petition calling for the Sukulas to be allowed to remain in Bolton.
Over the last three years, the family were also threatened by the notorious Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004, under which parents were made destitute while their children risked being placed in the care of social services. But the strength of the local campaign meant that supporters were ready to physically blockade any attempt to evict the Sukulas from their home. And Bolton Unison backed social workers who refused to initiate care proceedings against the family. This defiance of government policy by local authority workers later spread to other councils in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire, where the ‘Section 9’ policy was undergoing trials. Similarly, an attempt to expel Daniel’s sister Flores from Bolton Sixth Form College – purely on the grounds of her being a ‘failed asylum seeker’ – was successfully opposed by Bolton NUT and the NUS.
On hearing the news of the campaign victory, mother Ngiedi Lusukumu, aged 42, said: ‘I slept properly for the first time since arriving in this country after I found out we were allowed to stay. For the first time I feel my family, my beautiful children, are safe and have a future. We are no longer living in fear of being sent to a place where our lives would be in danger. The threat to my family was very real.’
The family and campaign thank everyone who supported them and have pledged to continue fighting against all deportations.