Kamila and Karina Kaya, 18, who fled the former Soviet Republic in fear of their lives after both their parents were killed, fear that they would be forced into prostitution or murdered themselves if they had to return.
But after a campaign by members of the Jewish community of Birmingham and a last-ditch intervention by the Israeli Embassy just hours before they were due to be removed from the UK on Tuesday, the Home Office delayed their deportation for seven weeks.
Authorities in Israel have agreed in principle to let the girls make aliyah and are now just waiting to see their birth certificates before giving them the green light to move there. If they do end up in the Jewish state, they plan to join the army before completing their medical studies.
Speaking from Yarls Wood detention centre where the sisters are currently being held, Karina said: “It’s wonderful that we have got more time. We are overwhelmed by the support we have received.”
The girls, whose parents were fearful of practising their religion openly in Kyrgyzstan, have become part of the community, babysitting for synagogue members and looking after the elderly. They also attended an LJY Netzer Camp in the summer.
NB Conditions began to deteriorate for the small Jewish community of Kyrgyzstan (the ex-Soviet republic is 75% Muslim)when a popular revolution toppled its leader Askar Akayev in March 2005. Jews were worried over possible economic consequences of the revolution and a rise in radical Islam that threatened to slip into the vacuum created by political and economic turmoil. Following the nationwide protests and civil unrest, Israeli consular officers arrived to help evacuate the Jewish population if necessary.