Friends of a mother, who has campaigned to stay in the UK over fears her two children will be subjected to female genital mutilation, say she was deported to Nigeria last night.
Afusat Saliu, 31, and her two daughters Bassy, four, and Rashidat, two, were seized by officials last week to return to Nigeria.
They were due to fly to Lagos with Virgin Airlines last week but were given a reprieve.
Ms Saliu, who herself is a victim of FGM, fears her daughters will be subjected to the procedure.
Anj Handa, a close friend of the family, said that Ms Saliu and her daughters are now back in Nigeria after they were deported last night.
She said: “I have spoken to her and she is trying to be strong.
“They are staying in a hostel for two days and then she has got to look after herself somehow after that.
“We are just trying to find anyway that we can to help her.”
Lawyers acting for Ms Saliu, who has been living in Leeds, launched a judicial review in a last-ditch attempt to keep her in Britain.
They have said that the review is still ongoing in a bid to help Ms Saliu.
The news comes after West Yorkshire Playhouse joined the fight to stop Ms Saliu’s deportation by signing an open letter alongside figures from the arts including Benjamin Zephaniah and Sir David Hare.
Their letter said:
We the undersigned are calling on Theresa May to urgently review the asylum case of Afusat Saliu and her daughters.
Afusat and her daughters, Bassy, four, and Rashidat, two, are currently in a family removal centre, from where they could be deported at any time.
This is despite a Judicial Review which is ongoing into their case.
We urge the Home Secretary to halt the deportation process and to consider the fresh and compelling evidence in her case.
This includes the very real threat her daughters would be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (as Afusat was as a child) and the threat to Afusat and her family as Christian converts if they are forcibly returned to Nigeria.
Afusat and her girls are a valued and integrated part of the community in Leeds; not least for being part of a refugee women’s choir at West Yorkshire Playhouse.
They are not just a case or a problem, but a young woman and her children who are in fear for their lives.
We believe Afusat and her daughters deserve at the very least a fair hearing.
The UK Government has rightly abhorred the abuse of human rights and violence against women and girls, just this week launching a campaign to end FGM saying ‘The government is absolutely committed to tackling and preventing this harmful practice in order to safeguard and protect all girls and women who may be at risk.’
We believe it is time to put those principles into practice: Stop their deportation and give Afusat and her girls a fair trial.
Sir David Hare, playwright
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and writer
Lemn Sissay, poet and writer
Tariq Ali, writer and filmmaker
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, journalist and writer
James Brining, Artistic Director, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Sheena Wrigley, Chief Executive, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Alex Chisholm, Associate Director, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Lolita Chakrabhati, playwright
Natalia Kaliada, Co-Artistic Director, Belarus Free Theatre
Nikolai Khalezin, Co-Artistic Director, Belarus Free Theatre
Boff Whalley, Chumbawumba member and playwright
Rod Dixon, Artistic Director, Red Ladder Theatre Company
Dr. Daniel Bye, lecturer and theatremaker
Lucy Ellinson, theatremaker
Alan Lane, Artistic Director, Slung Low
Jon Spooner, Artistic Director, Unlimited Theatre