A MOTHER-OF-TWO who is seeking asylum after claiming rape and torture in her homeland has been detained by immigration officials.

Elizabeth Kiwunga and her two young children were taken early yesterday morning from the Darlington house where they were staying with friends.

It is thought Ms Kiwunga, 33, along with Hilary-Marie, four, and eight-month-old John, have been detained at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, in Bedfordshire.

Last night, an MP and an MEP were petitioning on behalf of Ms Kiwunga, who is originally from Uganda, but her supporters fear the family could be returned to the African country at any moment.

The children were both born in the UK and have never been to Uganda.

Ms Kiwunga came to the UK in 2002 and has attracted support from high-profile figures including two Church of England Bishops and dozens of people from Darlington.

Last night, the family’s supporters criticised the way she had been treated by immigration officials and said the detention was unfair because Ms Kiwunga had been in the process of supplying requested medical information.

The Reverend Sheilagh Williamson, who the family have been staying with, said the experience had been a nightmare.

She said: “It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. It was a nightmare.

“The children were taken in a separate vehicle and Marie was crying and screaming that she wanted to stay with me. It was heartbreaking.”

She said violence that had erupted in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, was an extra worry, and added: “It is certainly no place to be sending a vulnerable woman with two young children.”

North-East MEP Stephen Hughes, who has been campaigning on Ms Kiwunga’s behalf, said he had once again contacted Home Office Minister Phil Woolas to highlight the injustices in Ms Kiwunga’s case.

He said he received a letter from Mr Woolas on August 6 inviting Ms Kiwunga to supply additional information or medical reports, and action was immediately taken to have psychological reports compiled.

He said: “This plan of action was conveyed to the Border Agency, and despite this, she was abruptly detained.

“I think it is wrong that additional evidence has been requested while not allowing sufficient time for this evidence to be compiled by the medical professionals.

“It may just be one department not communicating with another, but this mix-up will have caused additional pain and suffering to Elizabeth and her two young, vulnerable children.”

MP Alan Milburn also contacted Mr Woolas yesterday on Elizabeth’s behalf.

He said: “If there is anything Elizabeth’s supporters want us to do on her behalf, we will be happy to help.”

A spokeswoman for the Border and Immigration Agency said: “We examine with great care each individual case before removal and we will not remove anyone who we believe is at risk on their return.”