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Two weeks reprieve for 90-year-old deportee

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Two weeks reprieve for 90-year-old deportee
13:12 CEST+02:00
90-year-old Ganna Chyzhevska, suffering from dementia and heart disease, but scheduled to be deported to Ukraine on Monday, has been given a short reprieve, allowing her family and supporters to rally behind her.

”I am just waiting now to have concrete confirmation that they have rescheduled her flight in two weeks' time,” granddaughter Anna Otto told The Local on Monday.

When Ganna Chyzhevska's husband died of cancer eight years ago, her daughter and granddaughter, resident in Sweden since 1995 and Swedish citizens, applied for residency on her behalf based on family connections.

Her application has been denied seven times by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), despite Chyzhevska being of poor health and her family in Sweden wanting to care for her.

The case, which has kicked up a storm in Swedish media and on the internet, recently caught the attention of Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) MP Barbro Westerholm, a staunch supporter of the rights of elderly.

”It is my firm belief that no one should have to fear growing old in Sweden and that there should be a way for the authorities to make exceptions for distressing circumstances such as these," Westerholm told The Local.

"The Migration Board can only act by current legislation. It is up to those of us who work with this legislation to identify when its necessary to amend laws.”

According to current Swedish law, a family member needs to be living with their adult children and be financially dependent on them before the residency permit is granted based on family connections.

“Before 1997 we were allowed to grant residency to elderly parents whose adult children were living in Sweden, but then the law was changed,” Mikael Ribbenvik, legal expert at the Migration Board, told The Local in September.

As this was not the case with Chyzhevska, her application was denied.

Her doctor, Claes von Segebaden, wrote to the Migration Board that the chances of the elderly woman being able to manage on her own in Kiev are slim.

“The patient shows significant signs of dementia,” he wrote.

Von Segebaden has previously concluded that Chyzhevska shows clear signs of an Alzheimer's type of illness, as well as ischemic heart syndrome and strongly diminished eyesight as the result of a cataract operation.

But to be allowed to stay the applicant has to prove that the country does not have capability to offer the care needed, according to Ribbenvik.

“And we are not allowed to take into consideration whether the patient will be able to afford the treatment in their country or not,” he said.

The decision to deport Chyzhevska was not changed and her deportation date was set for Monday, October 3rd.

But according to granddaughter Anna Otto, the family has since received massive support from people who have heard of their case through the media.

After a daily newspaper did a web-tv report on the family, where Otto's 90-year-old grandmother was seen crying, a storm kicked up on the internet.

”We have had a lot of response since people found out about the case. My grandmother has received a great deal of support in social media,” said Otto.

Otto said that since they were given the decision three weeks ago, she has been calling the officers at the Migration Board regularly, trying to get them to reschedule the flight by two weeks.

This, she was hoping, would give her time to find a new way of keeping her grandmother in the country.

”I called them so many times to ask for two more weeks, but they always said no. And then on Friday they called me and said they could give us an extra week and then they called again and said they'd give us two,” Otto said.

Otto is certain that it is the media attention that has made the Migration Board change their minds about the nonagenarian Chyzhevska's deportation date.

She is hoping that Westerholm's involvement may make them able to change their mind altogether.

Since getting wind of Chyzhevska's plight, Westerholm has heard of other, similar cases.

”My only concern is that these changes take time. My hope is that Chyzhevska's case is postponed while the matter is being settled in Europe. But I have spoken to my ministers and I believe they are positive to me continuing to work on this matter,” she said.

In the mean time, Anna Otto's efforts to keep her grandmother in Sweden continue.

She is hoping that a new medical certificate from Chyzhevskas's physician might also help her keep her ailing grandmother with her.

”This time it completely follows all the guidelines for medical notes set up by the Migration Board, so maybe that will finally make them see sense,” Otto told The Local.

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