By Duncan Mackay

Dedeline Mibamba Kimbata  London 2012July 8 - Five athletes and officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who went missing after taking part in the London 2012 Paralympics have been granted refugee status in Britain.

The decision means that Dedeline Mibamba Kimbata and Levy Kitambala Kizito, the first athletes from their country to compete in the Paralympics, can stay and work in Britain. 

"By giving us refugee status, the British Government has given us life," said Kimbata.

The 31-year-competed in the T54 100 metres and T57-58 discus at London 2012, being knocked out in qualifying in both events.

"I am still under a lot of stress, but when I have sorted myself out I would like to start training again," she said.

"I need a coach and a racing chair.

"My legs were blown off when I stepped on a landmine at the age of 18, but even before the accident happened I dreamed of being a top basketball player

"Facilities for disabled athletes in Congo are extremely poor, but here at last I have opportunities."

Levy Kitambala Kizito London 2012Levy Kitambala Kizito, who competed in the discus and javelin at London 2012, has now taken up wheelchair basketball with Sheffield Steelers

Kinzito, 35, competed in the F57-58 discus and javelin at London 2012.

Since being granted refugee status, he has joined Sheffield Steelers Wheelchair Basketball Club. 

Both athletes claim that equipment promised that would be provided by the Government when they arrived in London was not made available.  

"We were told by Congolese officials that when we reached the Olympic Village our equipment would be waiting for us but when we arrived there was nothing," said Kimbata. 

"Once we started to speak out about this and the problems in our country things got worse and worse for us.

"I was told that I had damaged my country's reputation and that when I returned to N'djili airport in Kinshasa, I would be arrested and killed.

"Pressure was put on me to speak on a Congolese radio station and retract what I had said, but I refused and ran away when they tried to get me to say these things.

"I was very scared, but was determined to tell the truth, it was not only in my interest, but in everyone's interest.

"They wanted me to say that the wheelchair donated to me was from the Congolese Government, but I refused to lie about this.

"I have three young children in Congo and I told them I would be home in two months.

"Now I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to go home."

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