Nurse learns of asylum review day after leaving Ireland for Pakistan

Department of Justice letter arrived at Vekash Khokhar’s former home day after he left

Vekash Khokar  at the Backstage Theatre, Longford. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

Vekash Khokar at the Backstage Theatre, Longford. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

 

A Pakistani nurse who left Ireland on Monday after receiving a deportation order was informed the morning after his departure that his asylum status is being reconsidered by the Department of Justice.

Vekash Khokhar, who has spent more than three years living in direct provision, boarded a flight to Pakistan via Dubai on Monday night. Less than 12 hours later a letter from the Department of Justice addressed to Mr Khokhar arrived at his former residence in the Richmond Court direct provision centre in Longford.

An online petition calling on the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to lift the deportation order has attracted more than 6,300 signatures to date

The letter from the Repatriation Division states the office had received and would consider the extra correspondence Mr Khokhar submitted earlier this month in an attempt to have his deportation order lifted. This correspondence included 78 letters from friends and colleagues vouching for Mr Khokhar’s important contribution to and presence in the local community.

“We hope to be in a position to respond to you after the 21st of September 2018,” the letter said.

Left voluntarily

Mr Khokhar chose to leave Ireland voluntarily ahead of his deportation to avoid facing potential detention as a deportee upon his arrival in Pakistan. He also wanted to avoid the deportation preventing him from returning to Ireland in the future.

Mr Khokhar heard about the letter only after landing in Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon and expressed frustration that it did not arrive before he left Ireland.

Vekash Khokar with Mona Considine, general manager of the Backstage Theatre, Longford. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan
Vekash Khokar with Mona Considine, general manager of the Backstage Theatre, Longford. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

An intensive care unit nurse, Mr Khokhar was actively involved in the local music and theatre scene in Longford town and volunteered at last week’s World Meeting of Families conference. He also volunteered five days a week at the local nursing home.

An online petition calling on the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to lift the deportation order has attracted more than 6,300 signatures to date.

The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment on Mr Khokhar’s case.