Salma arrived in the UK from Eritrea in 2008. Her claim for asylum was rejected and she then became a victim of bullying and abuse. The SVP is now supporting her to put in a new case for asylum.
Salma arrived in the UK from Eritrea in 2008 aged 25. Her parents paid for her to be taken out of the war-torn region when her army draft papers arrived. Two years earlier their son had resisted compulsory conscription. He was arrested and the family were unable to trace him again. He is presumed dead.
At the age of 17, Salma had a child with a young Ethiopian and they were living with his family in Ethiopia. When the child was 18 months old, a political crackdown saw Eritrean people rounded up and forcibly deported. During the round-up the young father took the child from the mother to keep him safe. She never saw the father or her child again.
Having been deported she was barred from Ethiopia. For the next five years she worked as a housekeeper. Once the draft papers arrived money was borrowed from an uncle and Salma was transported to France. The trafficker left her close to The Jungle camp in Calais with no phone, few possessions and very little money. After a frightening week, a total stranger smuggled her to Dover and took her to Lunar House in Croyden to claim asylum.
Once in the asylum system she was dispersed to Liverpool and housed with another young Eritrean woman. After six months they both received their asylum decisions - one was accepted, but Salma’s was rejected. The person who was accepted came to Wakefield with her new partner. Having been rejected and not understanding what to do, Salma was evicted from the accommodation with no recourse to public funds and she became homeless.
A man who recognised her as Eritrean took her to his home to be his housekeeper. She stayed there for several months until he had to leave the country. He paid for her to get to Wakefield to visit her ex-flatmate who was now a single mother. The relationship was fraught as the mother had very little income to support a second person.
Having no right to seek employment, the young woman was beholden to the Eritrean community to work for her keep. She became a victim of abuse and bullying. However, she was eventually brought to the attention of the SVP and supported to put in a new case for asylum. Her claim for Home Office support was not accepted. After a year her asylum claim was rejected because the Home Office believed that she was Ethiopian as she did not speak the common Eritrean language.
A claim for statelessness was submitted in 2013, and a year later she received Home Office support and accommodation and placed in Leeds. To everyone’s dismay in December 2017, after a four-year wait, her case was rejected again. She is currently preparing a new case.
The tragedy is that her son is now over 18 years old, and without refugee status she has no rights to a family reunion. Behind her kind nature and pleasant smile is a mother’s broken heart.