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Asylum Seekers in UK Fear Attending Home Office Meetings Amid Rwanda Deportation Threats

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Mbeki edmond

May 15, 2024

Fears of Detention and Deportation Leave Asylum Seekers Conflicted About Mandatory Appointments Seen as Nightmares Due to Rwanda Program

 Refugee Faces Uncertainty Over Mandatory Appointments Due to Rwanda Deportation Threats
Nura says that each time she goes to sign in she's terrified of being detained for Rwanda deportation

Asylum seekers in the UK are increasingly fearful of attending Home Office meetings due to the threat of deportation to Rwanda. After speaking to several individuals who now dread these routine appointments, with some even contemplating skipping them altogether.

Kidus, a 30-year-old from Eritrea, arrived in the UK in June 2022 on a small boat with about two dozen other people. Despite government plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda being announced at that time, he never believed it would happen to him. Recently, however, he received a letter indicating he was being considered for removal, making the threat feel real. Kidus recounts that before leaving France, people smugglers assured him the policy wouldn't affect him. But his fears were heightened when a friend, also from Eritrea and who traveled on the same boat, was detained during a routine Home Office appointment in Liverpool.

"If I didn't go there, I know they'll drop my case," he tells us,

concerned his asylum application will be cancelled.

"But if I go I know they will detain me. So, I'm just confused what I'm going to do."

A document from Home Office officials reveals that only 2,143 of the 5,700 asylum seekers Rwanda has agreed to accept regularly attend check-ins and can be located for detention. If individuals like Kidus stop attending, they will join the 3,557 migrants currently missing.

Kidus lives in a shared house paid for by the Home Office, making it difficult for him to disappear and increasing his fear of being detained at any time. This constant fear has disrupted his life, causing him to stop attending college and always carry the phone numbers of legal firms.

"I'm always just frightened here. So, they might come at night or day and I'm always thinking that they'll come and they'll take me to detention. I'm not feeling safe here," he says.

Kidus's friend, Nahom, 26, is currently held in a detention center near London, along with about 40 other asylum seekers who have been told they will be sent to Rwanda. Nahom describes the center as a nightmare and feels increasingly desperate about his situation.

"It's like a nightmare, it's like a prison and I don't like it here. I'm really stressed and panicked about the situation," Nahom tells us from the site almost 100 miles away. "They can send my body, but not me alive," he says. "I'm just giving up."

In west London, Nura, a woman in her 20s, has decided to continue attending her Home Office meetings despite the risks. She fears being kicked out of her taxpayer-funded hotel if she misses these appointments.

The stories of Kidus, Nahom, and Nura highlight the growing fear and uncertainty among asylum seekers in the UK as they face the possibility of deportation to Rwanda.

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