By Roseann Hughes
A CAMPAIGN’S underway to help a Leeds asylum seeker who fears he will be killed if he is sent back to Africa.
Ntambwe Nkombe, 38, of Harehills, narrowly avoided deportation to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday (November 10).
His scheduled flight with Kenya Airways did not take place, to allow time for new evidence to be considered.
Mr Nkombe has lived in the UK for the past 16 years but is currently being held at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire.
He was a political activist when he was a student and continues to oppose the regime in the DRC.
A petition asking the Home Office to allow him to stay has over 5,000 signatures.
A fresh claim for asylum has been submitted.
Andrea Hill, 38, a midwife at St James’ Hospital, started the petition. She said: “I’ve known him for at least five years through All Hallows Church by Hyde Park. He’s a lovely and genuine guy.
“Ntambwe has made a really big impact on the people in Leeds. People would miss him.
“He feels like he’s on death row. If he’s sent back there’s a real risk that he’ll be ‘disappeared’.
“He’s grateful to everybody supporting him. He hopes this will raise awareness of the plight of asylum seekers.”
Andrea also volunteers at Asylum Justice and Release, a Leeds-based organisation. She has visited Yarl’s Wood, a female detention centre, and describes it “like a prison”.
Ntambwe has been volunteering at the Refugee Education and Training Advice Service, an organisation that gives educational opportunities for asylum seekers, and is active at his local church. As an asylum seeker, it is illegal for him to work.
Reverend Dr David Randolph-Horn, priest at All Hallows Church, said in a press release: “Sending Ntambwe back to the DRC would have been to issue him a death sentence. We will continue to campaign for Ntambwe to be released and until he is granted leave to remain. We are ready for the long haul. Who will help us?”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.
“The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and all applications are considered on their individual merits.”
People can support Ntambwe’s cause by signing the Change.org petition and donating to fund his legal representation.