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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 2 June, 2020
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Last-minute reprieve for Cork students as family saved from deportation

It came after an intervention from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

Hamza is the oldest of four brothers who all attended Coláiste Éamann Rís in Cork
Hamza is the oldest of four brothers who all attended Coláiste Éamann Rís in Cork
Image: UCC Student Union/Change.org

SIBLINGS IN DIRECT Provision who hope to become doctors and computer scientists have had their deportation cancelled following a last-minute intervention by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

Cork-based students Hamza, Zubair, Umair and Mutjuba Khan faced deportation from Ireland as early as tomorrow afternoon alongside their brother UCC Sanctuary scholarship student Hamza, their sister Shazadi and parents Mubeen and Hina.

They were told of plans to deport them last Friday having been refused international protection in this country.

The family sought asylum in this country from Saudi Arabia two years ago. They have been living in Direct Provision in Cork city.

Aaron Wolfe, Principal of Colaiste Éamann Rís where the three youngest boys attend secondary school, said that Tánaiste Simon Coveney contacted him this evening to say that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan plans to review the case.

“The Khan family are obviously overjoyed at today’s news and thank the people of Ireland for coming to their aid in their time of need. A planned demonstration to support the Khan family is cancelled. Instead we shall celebrate this news in school.”

‘Like’

Hamza Khan, the eldest of the boys is studying computer science in UCC having completed his Leaving Certificate last year.

Sixteen year old Umair, who is in transition year, says his dream is to study medicine.

“I want to complete my education and do medicine. If I lose this opportunity I won’t get any opportunity to go to college. I liked work experience. I was in Tesco in Paul Street (in Cork) and I did shelving. Transition year is very exciting.”

Fifth year student Zubair (17) who is a talented cricketer with professional prospects, says that his parents have been sick from worry since the news emerged about the planned deportation.

Mutjuba who is in second year, has become a true Corkonian in his two years in Ireland peppering his sentences with the word “like”.

Moving to Ireland when he was just 12 he has successfully integrated in to the school and has a large circle of friends.

The boys received the backing of UCC, the Edmund Rice Trust, and their school as they campaigned to stay in Ireland.

‘They are all really nice’

A group of their fifth year classmates gathered in the school today to give their support.

Maksim Maksimmrdanoe moved to Ireland from Serbia last year. He says he was warmly welcomed by Khan boys and in particular his classmate Zubair.

“They are all really nice. Right away Zubair helped me to settle in. Then I met the rest of the guys and they were really nice. I talked to Hamza. He wanted to do medicine before he changed his mind (to do computer science) and I want to do it too. He explained to me all about medicine.

I am so happy that he got the scholarship. Because he is a really smart guy. They would have a better life in Ireland. I also came to Ireland for a better life.”

Filip Radocha is on the Meitheal team with Zubair. Participants undertake training for a week and they are part of the welcoming committee to help students settle in.

“We talk to the students and do activities with them. Ice breakers and stuff to make them feel comfortable coming in to the secondary school. With Meitheal we also did talent shows and Zubair would go on the stage and do a front flip and everyone would be so impressed. It was really funny.”

Background

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 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. It is understood 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.

Hamza Khan (20) is a first year sanctuary scholar studying at UCC. In a statement UCC say that 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. 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. “

UCC was designated University of Sanctuary status in 2018 and offers Sanctuary Scholarships to refugees and asylum seekers seeking to study in higher education.

Fourteen scholarships have been awarded since the undergraduate scholarship scheme began in 2018, and several Adult and Continuing Education scholarships were launched this year.

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About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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