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Iranian Asylum Seeker in UK Faces Deportation to Rwanda, Shares Harrowing Journey and Fears

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Mbeki edmond

May 8, 2024

His plea highlights a desperate hope for a chance to live freely

An Iranian asylum seeker, Roozbeh, now faces deportation from the UK to Rwanda after escaping persecution in Iran due to his religious conversion. Here's his story of survival and the looming threat that haunts him.

In December 2022, Roozbeh, a 34-year-old civil engineer from Iran, sought refuge in the United Kingdom after converting from Islam to Christianity—a decision that put his life at risk under his home country's regime.

However, instead of finding permanent sanctuary, he received a notice of intent to deport him to Rwanda, sparking new fears of detention and possible extradition back to Iran.

Roozbeh's escape from Iran was fraught with peril. After crossing into Turkey, he was clandestinely transported across multiple borders, crammed into lorries where the distinction between day and night blurred during his three-week journey to France. The smugglers, communicating in English, Turkish, and Kurdish, coerced the group to wade deep into the sea and board water-logged dinghies under the guise of reaching a "safe country."

Upon arrival in the UK, Roozbeh was rescued by a Border Force boat, a moment of profound relief marked by the simple provision of hats and gloves that mitigated the biting cold. Initially processed and sent to Liverpool, he found a semblance of peace and community support, volunteering with local charities where even the English staff expressed anxiety over the UK's deportation policies to Rwanda.

Unfamiliar with Rwanda and disconnected from global news for years, Roozbeh was shocked to learn that it could be his next destination. His research revealed troubling diplomatic ties between Rwanda and Iran, intensifying his fears of being sent back to the very dangers he had fled.

This looming threat disrupts the safety he has experienced in the UK, where local friends have even offered him places to hide.

Roozbeh is now caught in a haunting limbo, required to report bi-weekly as he awaits an asylum interview that has yet to be scheduled. His story underscores the paradox faced by many asylum seekers in the UK: rescued from perilous journeys only to face the prospect of deportation to countries where their safety cannot be assured.

Despite the UK's attempt to use Rwanda as a deterrent for dangerous crossings, for Roozbeh and many like him, the risk of staying put in their home countries is often far worse than the treacherous paths they embark on in search of safety.

This policy, he argues, only delays the death they tried so desperately to escape.

In Roozbeh's words,

"Why did you not just leave us to die in the Channel if your plan was to send us to Rwanda? By sending us there you are just delaying that death." His plea highlights a desperate hope for a chance to live freely, away from the nightmares that now follow him into his waking hours.

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