Asylum seekers facing Rwanda deportation feel ‘not safe’

Asylum seekers facing Rwanda deportation feel ‘not safe’
Asylum seekers facing Rwanda deportation feel ‘not safe’
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  • By Pritti Mistry & Peter Levy & Crispin Rolfe
  • BBC News

May 9, 2024

Image source, Welcome House

Image caption, Among the 16 men who had been detained, three were players of Acorn FC, a football team made up of Asylum seekers and refugees living in Hull, a charity says

Asylum seekers have said their lives are “not safe” having been told they are being sent to Rwanda as part of the government’s plans.

A Hull charity said 16 of them had been detained and sent to a detention center without notice or formal warning.

The Home Office said it had begun detaining “illegal migrants” in preparation for the first flight to Rwanda in nine to 11 weeks.

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh said the move would keep migrants safe.

One of the 16 asylum seekers, who had been living in Hull, told the BBC he was being held at a detention center near Heathrow, along with a friend, and both were facing deportation to the Central African country.

The asylum seeker, who wished to remain anonymous, said he “cried really hard” when he was told he would be flown out after “suffering to come to this country”.

“We don’t feel it is safe,” he said.

“They don’t tell me when they do [will] send me to Rwanda. We still need to know about our situation and what’s going on [going to happen].”

Image caption, Shirley Hart, from Welcome House, a charity that supports refugees in Hull, said it did not know what had happened to the migrants

He said he wanted “freedom” and was worried about his future.

“I was happy in Hull because I [thought] this is my country and I was playing football and I was learning in college.

“I’m angry. Today I’ve not eaten anything, nobody eat today because it is a bad situation. How will we eat when everyone’s thinking what’s happening in the future? What’s happening tomorrow?”

His friend, who also did not give his name and had briefly lived in Cottingham, East Yorkshire, also said he was worried about the “bad situation” he was facing and did not feel safe.

“They went to sign on at the police station – a weekly requirement while waiting for refugee status – and they literally were detained, put into a detention van and sent down to a detention center.

“Now they didn’t know what was happening and initially we didn’t know what was happening because they weren’t allowed to come out and tell anybody.”

She said the charity was formally alerted to their duty via a late night phone call to another refugee.

Image caption, Sir Edward Leigh has been against plans to house asylum seekers at former RAF Scampton

“We’ve got a close working relationship with Rwanda. We’ve had to meet numerous tests set by the Supreme Court.

“Let’s be honest about this, it’s a lot safer than what [they’ve] probably gone through already.”

The Home Office said it did not routinely comment on individual cases and ongoing detentions.

However, a spokesperson said: “The first illegal migrants set to be removed to Rwanda have now been detained by highly trained teams, following a series of nationwide operations.

“We will get flights off the ground to Rwanda in the next nine to 11 weeks, creating the deterrent effect to help break up the people smuggling business model and stop the boats.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Asylum seekers facing Rwanda deportation feel safe

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