Ex-Peterborough takeaway boss ‘fears for life’ over Gaza deportation threat
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Mo’men Zomlot received a letter on April 6 telling him to return his birthplace within 14 days despite the ongoing conflict which has seen his family home destroyed.
The 32-year-old, who was in charge at Papa Luigi in Lincoln Road for around six years, came to Peterborough in 2013 to do a Master’s in business administration at Anglia Ruskin University.
Since moving to the city he has found a long-term partner, although their imminent plans to get married have now had to be put on hold.
Mr Zomlot, who has appealed the decision to deport him, said he has never claimed any handouts from the state.
His cause has now been taken up by MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow who has requested a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss his case.
Mr Zomlot told the Peterborough Telegraph: “I’m expecting them to come to my home any minute. I don’t know what they’re going to do with me.
“I’ve never taken benefits from the Government. I had surgery here and I paid for it. I just want to make my life.
“People know the situation in Gaza - civilian life is at risk. My home has been destroyed, it’s been wiped out. My family are there and living at my uncle’s house.
“They’re relying on me but I’m struggling.
“(The Home Office) are killing my life. I can’t sleep.”
Mr Zomlot has been supporting his family financially but he is no longer able to work due to the Home Office’s decision to send him back to Gaza.
His savings are about to run out, while his immigration status means he cannot take up a place at the University of Lincoln to study for a PhD.
Mr Zomlot claimed he was arrested and tortured in Gaza before he came to the UK after being accused by Hamas of being a member of the rival Fatah political party.
After arriving in Peterborough, his passport expired in 2016 but he has not been allowed to renew it.
Mr Zomlot added: “The situation in Gaza is really bad. You can’t meet the basic criteria for humans there.
“If you’re not with Hamas you have no rights. You don’t have a future.
“And Palestine is not recognised as a state by the UK government so I am stateless. No one else will accept me.
“It’s really stressing me out.”
Mr Bristow recently ran a competition to find Peterborough’s best takeaway, with Papa Luigi winning the pizza category, which is how he met Mr Zomlot.
The MP has now written to the Home Secretary where he describes the former manager as a “well-regarded and respected resident of Peterborough”.
He added: “In my view, we should not be instructing people who have asked for our protection to return to Gaza. This cannot be right given the current dangers involved.”
Mr Bristow told the Peterborough Telegraph: Mo’men is bright, ambitious and a credit to Peterborough. The idea he might have to return to Gaza with the current turmoil is unthinkable. I hope that civil servants see sense and allow him to get back to work and make a life for himself in our great city.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and decisions to remove are made on a case by case basis.”