Manchester

Iraqi age-row student goes missing

Rabar Hamad
Image caption Rabar Hamad believes he is 16, but has no original documents

An Iraqi student who has been embroiled in a row with a Greater Manchester council over his age has gone missing, the Home Office has confirmed.

Rabar Hamad arrived in Wigan in the wheel arch of a truck two years ago. Wigan Council paid for a place for him at a home in Oldham.

He says he is 16 but social workers assessed him as being 20 and he was asked to leave the home.

He faces being arrested immediately if he is found, the Home Office said.

Wigan Council undertook two age assessments with Rabar, both of which said he was over 18.

But an independent tribunal doctor found he was aged between 13 and 16.

However, Rabar says his original documents have been lost and that the Home Office will not accept photocopies.

'Safe place'

Supporters fear he will be deported and have started the Rabar Hamad Must Stay Campaign, to try to stop him being sent back to Iraq which he has previously claimed would be dangerous.

In a statement, a spokesman for the campaign said: "Rabar is staying in a place where he feels safe with people who are ensuring his basic day-to-day needs are being met.

"We continue to work towards maintaining the legal requirements set by the UK Border Agency."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We can confirm Rabar Hamad has absconded.

"Immigration absconders are liable to be arrested on sight and anyone facilitating their continued presence runs the risk of prosecution, up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine."

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