South East Wales

Syrian refugee faces deportation from Cardiff to Bulgaria

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Media captionMohammed Mirzo said he "just wanted to get to my family"

A Syrian refugee, faced with deportation to Bulgaria, has pleaded to be able to stay in Cardiff with his family.

After their Aleppo home was destroyed by an air strike, most of his family made it to Wales and were given permission to stay.

But Mohammed Mirzo, 20, paid thousands of Euros to be smuggled in in a lorry.

A Home Office spokesman said he must claim asylum in the first EU country he arrived in - which was Bulgaria.

Mr Mirzo, whose family have set up the Royal Coast Cafe in Cardiff, said he fears being sent back to the eastern European country.

He described being arrested in the country because his visa was about to run out, being beaten and having all his money and mobile phone taken off him.

"I was treated like an animal and given no food or drink," he said.

After spending four days in prison, he made it to his brother's home in Germany about a year ago, where he started learning the language.

But Mr Mirzo said he was beaten in a street attack and threatened with his life if he went to the police.

Following this, he decided to try and rejoin the rest of his family in Wales and in Brussels paid 2,500 Euros (£2,233) to be smuggled to the UK.

After 14 hours in the back of a lorry, he arrived in Bristol.

"I went straight to the police and told them everything," he said.

"I then saw my mother, father and family. I have suffered from everything and didn't ask for asylum in Bulgaria or Germany.

"I'm not going back, it's what I'm fighting for."

He wants to stay with his family, "be a useful member of society" and dreams of becoming a footballer.

But the Home Office spokesman said: "The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it.

"But it is only fair that we do not shoulder the burden of asylum claims that should rightly be considered by other countries."

He added that where there is evidence an asylum seeker is the responsibility of another country, "we will seek to return them there".

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