The interior ministry sought to defend itself on Wednesday after it emerged it ordered the deportation of Mohamed Kamara – a footballer from Sierra Leone who has lived in Cyprus for 20 years – and his family.
Kamara arrived in Cyprus in 1992 with his wife, when he was chosen to play for the Nea Salamina football team. They have since had three children, between the ages of three and 13, learned fluent Greek, and converted to Christianity.
The case was brought to the fore by former Akel MP and former Nea Salamina chairman Diofantos Chrysostomou.
“They don’t have any ties with Sierra Leone anymore. Their relatives died as a result of the civil war. Cyprus is their home.”
Since his arrival, Kamara had a residence permit, Chrysostomou said. However, the stories differ on what happened after that. A statement by the interior ministry said the family has been living in Cyprus illegally for nine years and had issues with the police.
“The ministry has informed him in writing six times that he must take the steps to legalise his stay or repatriate. He defiantly ignored the authorities.”
On a newsbite hosted by Politis, Chrysostomou remained flabbergasted at how the ministry maintained it had urged Kamara to legalise his status. He insisted Kamara had submitted all his paperwork, but nothing had been properly processed.
On February 25, 2021, the ministry informed Kamara’s lawyer it had approved a submission for a visitor visa, but the family had not proceeded to actually apply for it.
The final deportation letter sent on August 5, stipulated the family must leave by August 31.
“During this period, schools are closed, giving them time to move country, without interfering with the children’s education.”
“The ministry is not throwing a family of a former football player to the street but has given many opportunities to them to legalise their status. Nonetheless, they have ignored and taken advantage of the tolerance of the authorities.”
Chrysanthou said that two potential employers were willing to offer Kamara a job, which would also legalise his status on the island, but the letters have gone unheeded by the interior ministry.