Syrian asylum seeker in UK threatens to 'commit suicide' if deported to Rwanda

Syrian asylum seeker in UK threatens to 'commit suicide' if deported to Rwanda
A Syrian asylum seeker who is awaiting deportation to Rwanda says he will kill himself on arrival because he does not believe it is a safe country.
4 min read
06 May, 2024
The UK government says it expects the first deportation flights to Rwanda to take off between July 1 and July 15 [Getty]

A Syrian asylum seeker who is held in a UK detention centre awaiting deportation to Rwanda has said he will kill himself as soon as he gets there because he does not believe it will be a safe country for him, The Guardian reported on Sunday.

The man, identified as Khaled, arrived in Britain in June 2022 and is currently being held at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre with several others due to be sent to Rwanda.

Khaled claimed that being locked up was "very triggering" as he was previously imprisoned in Syria and detained and tortured in Libya. 

"Everyone is so stressed in here because of Rwanda. We can’t eat and we can’t sleep. I was displaced in Syria for nine years and was imprisoned there and I was also detained and tortured in Libya," he told The Guardian.

"They arrested me and put me in handcuffs in a police cell. The same thing happened to two other people who were reporting - Iraqi Kurds. After we were taken out of the cell we were handcuffed again and taken in a van to the detention centre," he said. 

"I have been trying to see a doctor in the detention centre because of an infection in my leg I need antibiotics for but so far I haven’t managed to get an appointment," he added.

Live Story

Another asylum-seeker who did not give his name, and who arrived in the UK from Sudan in 2022, told The Guardian that he had travelled via the Mediterranean and the boat he had been on almost sank.

"I would have been happy to claim asylum in Italy but Italian officials did not fingerprint me and told me to move on to France," he told the newspaper.

"There I was told it would be four years before they could consider my asylum claim so I waited in the jungle in Calais to cross to the UK. Crossing the Channel in an overcrowded boat was even more terrifying than crossing the Mediterranean.

"When I heard about the government’s plans to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda at the beginning of 2023 I was very frightened.

"I escaped from an African country because it was not safe and I am very scared to be deported to another African country because I know it will not be safe for me.

"I was arrested last week when I went to report in Newcastle. They didn’t mention Rwanda until I reached the detention centre and at first just said: 'We are deporting you to a safe third country'."

The two men told The Guardian that they faced difficulties reaching lawyers during their detention, especially with the Home Office setting a seven-day deadline for appeals against their deportation to Rwanda.

Live Story

UK pencils in early July for first Rwanda deportations

Earlier this month, the UK government told the High Court in London that it expects the first deportation flights to Rwanda to take off between July 1 and July 15. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on April 22 that he expected the first flights to leave in "10 to 12 weeks".

The proposed dates for the first flights coincide with the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections in Rwanda on July 15.

The charity Care4Calais published data suggesting that of the more than 100 people detained in preparation  for deportation to Rwanda, most come from war zones.

The FDA trade union, which represents civil servants and public officials, wants a judicial review of a newly passed law that declares the East African country safe, despite a UK Supreme Court ruling that said removals were illegal.

The union wants clarity about whether the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act complies with the Civil Service Code.

Under the code, the UK's politically neutral civil servants are legally obliged to "uphold the rule of law and administration of justice".

The new law allows ministers to ignore parts of domestic and international human rights law when deciding on deportations, as well as any "Rule 39" injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights.

That would create a potential conflict, the FDA argues.

Live Story


The UK Conservative government says its Rwanda policy is designed to deter huge numbers of migrants trying to get across the Channel to the UK from northern France on small boats.

It said this week it had begun detaining failed asylum seekers with a view to deporting them to Rwanda, sparking protests.