MOTHERS and grandmothers who have lived in the UK for decades are among dozens of people facing deportation to Nigeria and Ghana aboard a controversial Home Office charter flight that will leave the country on Wednesday.
As part of its massive crackdown on immigration, the UK Home Office is targeting Africans under several programmes, including one that deports asylum seekers to Rwanda. Under this deportation programme, about a dozen women will be deported this week, with some suffering from severe mental health problems and others on anti-psychotic medication.
Human rights campaigners say there are a range of safety concerns regarding the removal of those due to be onboard the flight, including religious persecution, modern slavery, rights to family life and persecution because of sexual orientation. Charities have expressed concerns about delays with what are known as Rule 35 Reports, where these issues can be explored at detention centres.
One 40-year-old mother of three British children has previously been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. She fled Nigeria after being persecuted for being a Christian in a majority Muslim area and travelled to the UK in 2009 on a false passport.
She was pregnant at the time and was imprisoned for travelling on the false passport and gave birth while in prison. When she became seriously mentally ill, her children were removed. The Home Office then evicted her because her children were no longer living with her and she ended up sleeping on the streets behind a church.
Speaking from Colnbrook Detention Centre, near Heathrow, she said: “How can the Home Office separate me from my children. I’m not going to let it happen. If they force me to go, I will die. I will kill myself. I escaped Nigeria to save my life.”
Adeniyi Raji, 48, is a gay man facing removal to Nigeria for a second time. He said: “I’m in the UK because I need protection. If I’m returned to Nigeria, they will kill me.”
He shared screenshots of death threats he had received from people in Nigeria. One said: “So after all that we did to you before, you are still a practising homosexual. Wait until we see you down here, that will be the end of you.”