UK Home Office threatens hunger-striking detainees with 'faster removal' to Rwanda
The UK Home Office has threatened 17 asylum seekers facing deportation to Rwanda with faster removal in the interests of “health and safety”, according to a letter seen by BBC Arabic.
They are among the first migrants threatened with deportation under the UK government’s controversial new scheme.
“Your refusal of food and/or fluids will not necessarily lead to your removal directions being deferred. In the interests of your health and safety, we may prioritise your removal from detention and the UK,” said the letter.
The charity Care4Calais believes that around 100 people who arrived in the UK in recent weeks have been served notice of removal to Rwanda under the scheme.
Migrant rights groups supporting the people under threat say that the ordeal is having a shocking impact on their mental health.
In a video made by a 40-year old Yemeni asylum seeker addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel, the man says that after he found out about the plans to remove him he had “no other choice but to kill myself”.
In a statement issued in response to the video, the Home Office said: "We take every step to prevent self-harm or suicide, including a dedicated welfare team on site at each immigration removal centre, responsible for identifying vulnerable individuals and providing assistance to support individuals' needs... while we know attempts will now be made to frustrate the process and delay removals, I will not be deterred and remain fully committed to delivering what the British public expect.”
Since being announced in April, the agreement enabling Britain to send migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda has attracted furious criticism from rights groups, opposition figures in both countries and even the United Nations.
According to the arrangement, the British government will send anyone entering the UK illegally, as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1, to Rwanda.