Sanctuary for the Adda Family
Selina Adda was born on 25 May 1974 in Tamale in Northern Ghana into a Catholic family in part of the war-like Dagomba tribe. This tribe is ruled by strong chieftains and follows Muslim customs, including female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is common in northern Ghana and, though it was made illegal in 1994, there are few prosecutions of those guilty of the crime.
Selina was betrothed to a Muslim chieftain of the tribe, who was 30 years her senior and already married to two wives. She fled to the capital Accra where a pharmacist took pity on her and gave her a job working in his shop. Several years later members of her tribe, close to the chieftain, spotted her and her whereabouts were made known.
Her mother visited her in Accra and told her that if she didn't return home and marry him, the chieftain would kill her mother. With the help of the pharmacist she left Accra to claim asylum in the UK. By this time she had met another man and had a child, Brian, in September 2000, and was pregnant with her second child Chelsea who was born in the UK in December 2004. She has no other relatives in the UK.
In 2005, an advert appeared in a Ghanaian newspaper offering a reward for information on Selina's whereabouts. When the family found out Selina had arrived in the UK, they informed the chieftain and he agreed to marry their other daughter. She could not face marrying him and took her own life by taking poison. Her death certificate says she died of food poisoning. The Home Office refused to accept the suicide letter as evidence.
The firm Paragon Law represented her, but her asylum claim was rejected on 7 December 2007. Her solicitor said there was not enough evidence to show that the chieftain would still pursue her and she could live safely in other parts of Ghana. But people who make threats don't tend to put it in writing in official documents. She and the children are afraid to go back.
Selina is seeking asylum in the UK because she is betrothed to a man she does not want to marry. She does not believe that the authorities have the power to protect her if members of the chieftain's tribe discover her again. Nor will they be able to protect Chelsea from FGM, despite the fact that it is technically illegal. Tribal customs mean that if she is discovered again in Ghana, she will be forced to marry a polygamous man, based on promises she made when she was just a child, and there will be an expectation that Selina will be required to adopt the faith of her husband.
To complicate matters, due to the public campaign in October 2008 when she was saved from deportation, her previous partner has since threatened that he would remove the children from her, if they returned to Ghana, as she has brought disgrace upon him and his family. This formed part of her fresh claim submitted by her solicitor. Selina rightly believes that going back to Ghana would place her and her children at significant risk. And an expert has also testified to this effect.
Since Selina has been in the UK, both her mother and her sister have died. She has few relatives in Ghana. She suffers from depression and although was prescribed medication by her GP, she stopped taking it fearing if she was sent back to Ghana, this would be used against her by her ex-partner in claiming she was not mentally stable enough to look after her children. The family receive support from a Family Support Worker. Under her advice and support, she attended an Access to Nursing course at Basford Hall College and gained a distinction. She is now ready to start a Nursing degree as soon as she gains her refugee status.
She has also passed Maths GCSE in order to get onto a nursing course, along with a Teaching Assistant course and has done voluntary work at a local school. Following her experiences of claiming asylum in this country Selina has also created, and is the driving force behind, a new community group called Kidz United, run in conjunction with Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Refugee Forum, which aims to bring together children from refugee and asylum-seeking families with those from the UK, and saw over 80 children from all walks of life attending its launch.
During 2009 Selina met an English man and in December that year, they became engaged. They celebrated this with a big party with all their family and friends. They plan to get married in the summer of 2010. Her children have got very strong bonds with him, and his family have welcomed Selina and her children into their family. The children look forward to seeing their 'grandma' at the weekend, and talk excitedly about their new life in Lincs where they will move to after the wedding. Their removal would have a devastating impact upon what has become a family unit, also breaching Article 8 of the European Court for Human Rights - Right to respect for private and family life.
Selina's children are achieving well at school and are very well settled. They are both considered high-achievers and are polite and respectful. The daughter attends weekly ballet lessons at a local dance school, and is a very good dancer. Her son attends tennis, karate, and football training each week and, being a natural at sports, often gains certificates and trophies, which he proudly displays in his room. Both children have many friends in and out of school, who would really miss them if they were to be sent away.
What you can do to help:
1) Email/Phone Willie Walsh, Chief Executive Officer British Airways and urge him not to carry out the forced removal of Selina Adda and her children. Please use the attached SelinaBrianChelseaBA.doc. You can copy, amend or write your own version and add your address at the top - if you do please include all the following details: Please do not remove, Selina Adda and her children, due to be forcibly removed from the UK on Wednesday 27th January 2010 @ 14:50 on British Airways flight BA0081 to Accra.
Online Contact customer relations:
Customer Relations phone: 0844 493 0 787 Monday-Friday 08:00-18:30 (hold line till operator answers)
2) Email/Fax, Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson MP Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that Selina Adda and her children, be granted protection in the UK. Attached "model letter" SelinaBrianChelseaAJ.doc which you can copy/amend/write your own version (if you do so, please remember to include their HO ref A1290971 )
Fax: 020 8760 3132(00 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)
"CIT - Treat Official" CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk>
3) Sign the Online petition
Please let the campaign know of faxes/emails sent:
Friends of Brian, Chelsea and Selina
C/o St Saviour's Cottage
St Saviour's Gardens
0115 956 7686