A MOTHER-of-two due to be deported to Uganda was last night handed a two-week reprieve as support for her grew in the North East.
Backing among the region’s church leaders and politicians was growing for the plight of 33-year-old Elizabeth Kiwunga and her children, Marie, three, and John, 14 weeks.
The Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Rev Mark Bryant, attacked police for taking her away in one car and her two young children in another from their home in Darlington early on Wednesday.
He said: “Are these the type of foundations we want for our society, where we are prepared to send somebody off to face possible imprisonment and torture?
“From what I have been told her children were terrified when they were taken away separately from their mother.”
Politicians including North East MEP Stephen Hughes and Durham City mayor Grenville Holland have also pledged their support for Mrs Kiwunga.
Coun Holland described her treatment by the authorities as “heavy-handed in the extreme”.
After being removed from her Darlington home, she was sent to a transit camp for asylum seekers in Bedfordshire. She was due to be deported with her children yesterday but this was put back because her children had not had their malaria checks.
The Rev Sheilagh Williamson of St Columba’s Church, in Parkside, Darlington, has lead the campaign to prevent Ms Kiwunga’s removal.
She said: “We made a new application to the Home Office sent by an independent wound expert who verified that the marks on her body were made by torture.”
Mrs Williamson befriended Mrs Kiwunga when she arrived at her church on Christmas Eve two years ago.
She said: “She has never asked for any charity. She is a genuine person who has become a valued member of our church.
“We just don’t want her sent back to somewhere she is terrified to return. If she is prepared to accept the indignity she has had to endure here then she must be desperate not to go back to Uganda.”
A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said: “Removals are always carried out in the most sensitive way possible, treating those being removed with courtesy and dignity.
“We only seek to remove families who are in the UK unlawfully when all appeal rights are exhausted and they have no further claim to remain in the UK.
“We only return those who the independent courts have found do not need international protection and can return safely.
“If failed asylum seekers do not depart voluntarily then we will enforce their return.”