A refugee-support group has appealed to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to stop the deportation of first year UCC student, Hamza Khan.
Hamza (20) is a first year sanctuary scholar studying computer science at UCC. Hamza, his sister Shazadi, three younger brothers (Zubair, Umair and Mutjuba) and parents have been advised that they will not be allowed to apply for international protection in Ireland, and are facing possible removal from the country this week.
Hamza joined UCC from Coláiste Éamman Rís, following his arrival in Ireland in 2017. The family have been living in direct provision since then. Zubair, a fifth year student, Umair, a Transition year student and Mutjuba, a second year student are studying at Coláiste Éamann Rís in Cork City.
In a statement today, the UCC Sanctuary Working Group said: "In the space of just two and a half years, Hamza’s academic trajectory has been very impressive.
"He made a huge impact on his school, Deerpark CBS (now Coláiste Éamman Rís). Not only did he achieve a strong Leaving Certificate, he won the Most Improved Student award 2018 and Student of the Year award in 2019. Hamza's two younger brothers are current students at Coláiste Éamman Rís.
"In September 2019 Hamza applied for the UCC Sanctuary Scholarship scheme and in September 2019, was ranked among the top applicants and became one of UCC’s second cohort of undergraduate Sanctuary Scholars."
As educators and advocates, the Working Group know that the removal of Hamza and his family from the state would put an end to their meaningful access to higher education.
"The Working Group call on the Minister for Justice and Equality to intervene to stop this removal from happening, and to support Hamza and his family in applying for international protection in Ireland."
The campaign to prevent the deportation of the Khans is supported by UCC, and the trust body of Coláiste Éamann Rís Cork City, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, that represents 96 schools nationwide.
Fleeing persecution in Pakistan
In a statement giving further background to the case today, Coláiste Éamann Rís said the family’s father Mubeen, fled to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan to escape persecution in 1982. His wife Hina Mubeen is also from Pakistan but their daughter Shazadi and sons Hamza, Zubair, Umair and Mutjuba were born in Saudi Arabia.
"The family continued to live happily in Saudi Arabia until their lives were changed by the death of King Abdullah in 2015. The new king, King Salman and his son Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, introduced new laws that favoured Saudi citizens.
"Under these new laws, each family member had to pay 100 riyals each, with the tax set to increase by 100% each year after. To pay this the children had to drop out of school to get jobs. Another law introduced in 2017, resulted in Mubeen losing his job in a drapers – unable to pay their taxes the family faced deportation to Pakistan which they had already fled from originally.
As a result the family were forced to leave Saudi Arabia, arriving in Ireland through England. As they first arrived to Europe through England, they are to be deported back to the United Kingdom, even though they have never lived there.