Fight to prevent Sheffield asylum seeker's deportation

Odette Sefuko

An anti-rape campaigner from Sheffield is fighting against her deportation - set for Monday.

Odette Sefuko fears she'll be killed if she's sent to Uganda, and thousands of people have signed a petition to help her.

Earlier this month, campaigners staged an emergency protest to raise awareness of the asylum seeker's plight.

Supporters voiced their concerns for Sefuko, who is currently being detained at Yarl's Wood detention centre, after her arrest on Wednesday 13 February.

They protested against the UK Border Agency's decision to deport Sefuko to Uganda despite UN expert evidence that she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was recently branded by a UN representative as the 'rape capital of the world'.

Sefuko, who is currently being detained at Yarls Wood Detention Centre, was arrested by the UK Border Agency on Wednesday 13 February. Campaigners say that the Home Office are seeking to deport Sefuko to Uganda despite evidence from UN experts that she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Supporters in Sheffield claim that Sefuko fled DRC in 2005 after her father, mother and brother-in-law were murdered and her husband was 'disappeared' by government officials. They say her family were targeted by government soldiers and accused of aiding the opposition. Sefuko, 35, says she is Banyamulenge, an ethnic group that has been persecuted in DRC for many decades.

While in the DRC, Sefuko says she was president of a group called 'Umoja Ninguvu' (Together we are Strong), established to help woman who had been raped. She was allegedly interrogated, beaten, tortured and raped by police officers because of her involvement with the group. In 2004 Sefuko and other leaders of 'Umoja Ninguvu' fled DRC after they became concerned for their safety.

The government's current guidance on the DRC states that if an applicant is of Banyamulenge origin, a grant of asylum is likely to be appropriate because they are in a vulnerable and insecure position and face persecution throughout DRC.

Paul Blomfield, the Labour MP for Sheffield Central, has been supporting Sefuko's campaign.

Campaigners in Sheffield say that Sefuko is a much-loved and valued member of the local community. She volunteers in the city for the Northern Refugee Centre, St Mary's Lunch Club, Low Edges Conversation Club and has been a member of St Mary's Church in Sheffield since her arrival in 2005.