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Fear and Uncertainty: Asylum Seekers Grapple with UK’s Rwanda Deportation Plans



'I fear arrest if I attend': Asylum seekers mull over missing Home Office appointments due to Rwanda deportation concerns

As the Home Office starts notifying individuals about potential deportation to Rwanda, Sky News has learned from asylum seekers who are now apprehensive about attending regular meetings. Some regret their decision to travel to the UK initially.

Communities reporter @BeckyJohnsonSky

Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 11:

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In June 2022, 30-year-old Kidus from Eritrea arrived in the UK aboard a small vessel, accompanied by approximately 24 others.

He keeps a video on his mobile that displays everyone, among them women and children, desperately holding onto the dinghy, all donned in matching red life vests.

At that time, the authorities had revealed a strategy to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Although he received a letter indicating that he might be dismissed, he never truly believed it would happen until this moment.

Kidus – a pseudonym – mentioned that prior to his departure from France, a human trafficker convinced him that he wouldn't be impacted by the policy, asserting that the authorities would not actually implement the Rwanda plan.

Earlier in the month, a friend of his from Eritrea, who had also traveled with him by boat across the Channel, was taken into custody during a regular meeting with the Home Office at a facility in Liverpool.

Consequently,">Kidus is contemplating skipping his upcoming biweekly appointment, despite the fact that his attendance is required as part of the terms of his immigration bail.

"He expresses his worries to us, saying, 'If I don't show up, I'm afraid they will dismiss my case,'" concerned about the potential cancellation of his asylum request.

He also states, "If I leave, I'm certain they'll hold me back. So, I'm really unsure about my next steps."

A report crafted by officials from the Home Office shows that out of the 5,700 asylum seekers that Rwanda has agreed to take in, only 2,143 are attending check-ins and are available for detention.

Should individuals such as Kidus cease to participate, they will be added to the existing tally of 3,557 migrants who are presently unaccounted for.

The residence where Kidus resides is funded by the Home Office, making his location highly traceable and leaving him vulnerable to potential detention at any moment.

"I constantly feel scared here. They could arrive at any time, night or day, and I'm perpetually worried they'll come to take me away to detention. I don't feel secure here," he explains.

Kidus has ceased his college education, where he was studying English, and consistently keeps the contact information of law offices on hand.

He communicates with his friend over the phone, who is currently detained in a facility close to London.

Nahom, a pseudonym, 26, believes he is one of approximately 40 asylum seekers at the location who have been informed they will be deported to Rwanda.

Stay updated on the most recent developments from the UK and across the globe by tuning into Sky News.

"It feels like a bad dream, like being trapped in jail, and I really don't enjoy being here. The whole scenario has me very stressed and anxious," Nahom reports from a location nearly 100 miles distant.

He acknowledges that he has had meetings with his lawyer, yet he expresses growing despair over the possibility of being deported to Rwanda.

"They might take my body, but they won't take me alive," he declares. "I'm simply surrendering."

In the western part of London, we encounter a young woman in her twenties, known here as Nura, a pseudonym. She continues to participate in scheduled appointments with the Home Office, motivated by her desire to avoid losing her accommodation in a hotel financed by taxpayers.

Learn more: Sunak's Rwanda strategy faces potential setbacks. UK explored Iraq as an option for asylum seekers in a similar arrangement to Rwanda.

Every time she attempts to log in, she is overwhelmed by the fear of getting arrested.

"Occasionally I wonder 'why me'?" she queries, eyes brimming with tears, as she examines her "notice of intent" letter which alerts her that she is at risk of being deported to Rwanda.

"She emphasizes the lack of safety," noting, "How does it differ from Eritrea? It's identical."

Nura believed that upon her arrival in the UK via a small boat, women would not face deportation to Rwanda. She claims she would not have embarked on the journey had she been aware of the potential risk.

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Kidus expressed similar sentiments, stating, "Had I been aware of this, I would have never chosen to come here." He mentioned that he would have preferred to go to "Belgium, France, or possibly Germany."

Now that they've arrived, their sole desire is to avoid being selected for detention.

The administration is committed to initiating the inaugural flights to Rwanda in the coming weeks.

In the lead-up to the national vote, the strategy has emerged as a key point of contention between the Conservatives and Labour, with the latter promising to abandon the program should they win office.

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