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SAFE AT LAST; Refugees get their passports - 4 years after dawn raid hell.


A FAMILY of Kosovan refugees taken from their Liverpool home in a dawn raid by deportation officers four years ago have finally won their battle for British citizenship.

Sabri and Magbule Havolli, plus their three sons Murat, Enis and Din, have received their British passports and today thanked people in their adopted home.

Murat, 22, a computer studies graduate from Liverpool Community College who is now an IT manager at St Francis Xavier's School, Woolton, said: "For the last few years we've been living life in a dream, feeling as though all our efforts were disappearing down a black hole, now personally I feel that this is the finishing touch in a long process and we can start to build our lives properly."

The Havollis were victims of the Serbian ethnic cleansing purge of Kosovo in the late 1990s. Murat was dying with septicaemia at a refugee camp in Macedonia when the family's plight was uncovered by Jonathan Williams, a Liverpool-born doctor working on behalf of the Save The Children Fund.

He realised that Murat's only chance of survival was to have treatment at Alder Hey hospital so he arranged to have the whole family flown over.

Murat's life was saved and the family, fearful of persecution if they returned to their homeland, applied for refugee status.

They were offered a flat in Sefton Park and while electronics engineer Sabri applied for a work permit from the government to resume work as a cable layer, his sons began their studies at Liverpool schools.

Their lives were abruptly shattered, however, in November 2002, when eight police officers staged a dawn raid at their flat.

They gave them half an hour to pack their belongings into 15 bin bags before being put into a van bound for the detention centre at Heathrow airport.

The raid caused a public outcry.

Family friend, telecommunications expert Tom Kelly from Grassendale, sent faxes to every MP in the country.

Remembering the day of the raid, he added: "Murat rang just to say 'goodbye' they're taking us away and we won't be coming back."

Four years on, the family's ordeal is finally over.

SFX offered the family rent-free accommodation at a cottage in its grounds when they returned to Liverpool to continue their struggle.

The school also offered a place in its sixth form to Enis. He is now a 24-year-old specialist in genetics after graduating from Liverpool university.

Din, 12, is at Gateacre comprehensive and hopes to become a lawyer.

"But nine out of 10 times he says he wants to play for Liverpool because he's a big Reds fan, but there's always one rotten apple in every family," joked Murat, who like his elder brother is a fanatical Everton supporter. "I've done most of my growing up here so Liverpool is my home now," he added.

Mrs Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: "I think it's wonderful news. The Havollis are supreme role models for British citizenship."


CITIZEN JOY: Sabri and Magbule Havolli with their children Enis, left, Din and Murat. Picture: TONY KENWRIGHT
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2006
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