Rwanda-UK: Home Office apologises to pregnant rape survivor for deportation threat

Rwanda-UK: Home Office apologises to pregnant rape survivor for deportation threat
3 min read
15 October, 2022
The UK government said on Friday that a Rwanda deportation order sent to a pregnant rape survivor was a 'mistake' - and has withdrawn the threat of forced removal.
The pregnant refugee said she had not been able to sleep since she got the Rwanda deportation order [source: Getty]

The UK Home Office has apologised to a pregnant rape survivor threatened with deportation to Rwanda, according to reports on Friday. 

The 28-year-old Eritrean, who travelled to the UK via a small boat in July, was originally told by the British government that she was eligible for forced removal to the central African country, the Care4Calais refugee charity previously said.

However, in an apparent U-turn, the Home Office said the asylum seeker- who is 37 weeks pregnant - was given a deportation order by "mistake", reported The Guardian. 

"The Home Office knew our client was pregnant but still issued a Rwanda notice," said the founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, Clare Moseley. 

"It has been withdrawn now after the Home Office was publicly shamed which is a relief for the woman, but still shocking that it happened at all," she said. 

Delina (a psuedonym) has spent decades searching for safety. She fled Eritrea after her father was killed, lived in Sudan for a while, then went to Lebanon and later France. 

The pregnant woman said she couldn’t sleep because of the stress caused by the deportation order, said The Guardian. Her baby reportedly stopped growing inside her during the ordeal. 

 "I was shocked when I received the letter. I never thought I would get this when I was pregnant," she said to the British newspaper. 

Live Story

The UK government’s controversial Rwanda deportation policy was announced this year as a measure to stem the tide of "illegal" migration and break the chain of "people-smuggling gangs" in the English Channel. 

However, refugee charities have urged for the scheme to be scrapped, arguing that it penalises vulnerable people and breaks international refugee law.

Data from the UK Refugee Council has shown that the "majority" of people crossing in small boats to Britain are fleeing war, poverty and prosecution, with legitimate claims to asylum. 

This week, the second part of the High Court hearing over the legality of the Rwanda policy took place. Asylum Aid is challenging the scheme based on "the procedure the Home Office has adopted to make decisions" for removal, said the NGO in a statement sent to The New Arab. 

They argued that given the timescale allotted for appealing deportation threats and the "unlawful presumption about the general safety of Rwanda" - this does not provide individuals with fair recourse to challenge their removal.