Asylum seeker faces deportation to war zone

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A LIBYAN asylum seeker who has been living in Sheffield for nine years has been told he will be deported back to his homeland in the midst of a civil war.

Anti-Gaddafi activist Ali Bashir, aged 47, fled his country in 2002 after the Libyan regime targeted him for his views.

He says he had to bribe Libyan airport officials to allow him to board a flight after he learned his name was on a list of activists wanted by the government.

If he returns to the country he claims he will be jailed for 10 years for his work against Gaddafi’s despotic regime, having been sentenced for ‘political crimes’ at a trial in his absence.

Human rights activists say if Mr Bashir returns he could share the fate of captured rebel fighters who, according to Amnesty International, have been found shot in the head with their hands bound behind their backs.

The UK Border Agency has twice refused Mr Bashir asylum in Britain and now the Government has written to him asking him to return to Libya and threatening detention and deportation if he does not go voluntarily.

Supporters say he has become an active and valuable member of the Sheffield community.

Although he cannot work because of immigration rules, he volunteers for the Red Cross and the non-profit New Roots café in Burngreave.

He also runs the FareShare group in Burngreave, distributing food parcels to the homeless people and other asylum seekers in the area.

Ange Drozdowski, New Roots café manager, said: “Ali is the most important volunteer we have.

“He is completely reliable and trustworthy, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. Sheffield and the country as a whole would lose a very special person if Ali were to be deported.”

Myra Davis, trustee of the ASSIST refugee charity, said: “I have known Ali for three years and he is always quiet, dignified, very thoughtful and well informed.

“He makes people feel stronger through his kindness and courtesy.”