Jeto Flaviah is a fighter. From detained asylum seeker to determined activist driving a campaign to reunite families that have fled war-torn lands – she has travelled a long road.
Dated: 11 January 2011
Speaking at Cross Roads Women’s Centre, Kentish Town, London, she said: “I was refused asylum, put into detention, denied medication and almost lost my life. I came out of detention and spent three months in hospital with brain inflammation.”
Of Ugandan descent, Ms Flaviah is a protagonist of the All African Women’s Group (AAWG) and leads the initiative, Mothers’ Campaign.
It was the case of Madeleine McCann that inspired the project. She said: “I saw the publicity on the telly. I saw how celebrities and public gave their support and I felt for these people; but I said to myself – ‘this is what I go through everyday of my life.’ That’s when I decided to launch a campaign for mothers to be reunited with their children.”
The Mothers’ Campaign has been reaping positive results with cases including Peace Musabi, who was reunited with her children just last October.
Cases of refused asylum are handed to the UK’s infamous Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, where individuals pumped with fear, await deportation.
Yet for those that win the right to stay in the UK, the fight is far from over.
Claims for asylum can take years. In this time, children back ‘home’ that turn 18 are no longer considered children, making it tougher for families to reunite.
Given ‘indefinite leave to remain outside immigration rules,’ Ms Flavia is required under Legacy to meet the criteria of a job, funds and a four-bedroomed house if she is to see again her three children: Rose (20), Mark (18) and David (16). Yet her status does not allow her to work.
“It’s a troublesome age,” she says. “I wish I could be there to see how troublesome they are. I don’t know them; they don’t know me. I speak to them on the phone now, but it took me five years to find out where they were.”
“The bottom line is that you’ve got to fight. The only time anyone ever loses is when they give up the fight.”