These are stories of the 15 people we know of in Yarl’s Wood who are at risk of being on Wednesday’s charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana. They include people who have lived in the UK for 17, 15, 14, 13 and 12 years, a gay woman who has been here since she was 12 years old, two couples, several victims of FGM, domestic violence, rape and torture, women who are married or partners with British Citizens and EEA nationals, people who are carers, people who have no one left in Nigeria and people ranging in age from 20’s to 50’s.
1. FA: I have lived in UK since Feb 2006, 17 years. I am a victim of domestic violence, FGM and suffering from high blood pressure which is classified by the Home Office as adult risk level 2. I have been detained in Yarl’s Wood for 7 months. When I first came to the UK with was with my previous husband (a British Citizen) on a spousal visa, I suffered from domestic violence for years, which was deeply traumatic, and when that relationship broke down it meant my right to stay broke as well. I now have a loving partner with EEA citizenship, we have been together for 6 years and living together for 3 but no matter what evidence we submit we are treated as liars. My only sister lives in the UK, we are very close and I love my young nephew very much, I would be devastated to leave them and my partner. We are all treated as liars, no matter what we say, the Home Office is just looking to meet its targets, it is wrong.
2. AS: have lived in London for 7 years. Was detained last year 2017 in Yarl’s Wood detention for just over 7 months, then was released without explanation or reporting conditions. They brought me back again to Yarl’s Wood this year 2018, I have currently spent just over 2 months. I have close family and friends here, no criminal record, I am a victim of torture and rape, currently battling with mental illness, stress and depression. I have been traumatised and detention makes it worse, no one cares about my mental state and wellbeing. This treatment is inhuman and not fair. Despite telling home office that I don’t have anyone to go back to in Nigeria they are still trying to remove me by giving me a removal notice to the country I have left since 7 years ago. This is unjust.
3. AW. I am currently detained at Yarl’s Wood IRC. I have been detained for over three months now and this would be my second time here. I came into United Kingdom as a minor, at the age of 12. I lost my parent at the age of 10; just 2 years before travelling down here. I have spent all my adult years in the country plus teenage period. I suffer from Post Traumatic Disorder. I am a young gay woman who has been through quite a lot of rough patches over the years. I have no other ties in Nigeria. Honestly, I know little about the country, as I have not been back since I left with my two older sisters, I only speak English. My sisters are legally in the country and reside in the UK. I have no one in Nigeria. Ever since we arrived in UK, my sisters and I were put under Social Service care, the aunt who brought us here was removed 3 months after we arrived. I had a bad moment in my life that I strayed, which I am not proud of; I committed an offence. The Home Office are trying to deport me back despite my claim on sexuality because we all know such practice is not allowed/ tolerate in Nigeria. I don’t want to be separated from my sisters and partner who I have known since we were in school together.
4. N, I have been living in UK for 12 years and I have a British partner. I have been detained since Nov 16th 2017 when I went to the reporting Centre, that’s 6 months now. The Home Office has detained me unreasonably in order to arrange deportation/removal regardless of the length of stay in UK and been in a loving and caring relationship with my partner.
5. Pastor PO & wife CO; we have lived in the UK for 13 years and eight months. We entered the United Kingdom legally in 2004 and 2005 respectively and have worked and contributed to the British economy; we were detained off reporting at the home office, Croydon on Monday 27th November, 2017 and remained here in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, Bedford, in spite of our case still pending. My wife is a victim of torture and this inhumane, indefinite detention is affecting her physically and psychologically; we are both increasingly depressed here in detention every passing second and day. We need help and want our freedom back.
6. K&K My husband and I entered the United Kingdom in March 2009 (9 years) with a student visa. We were detained during a reporting appointment at the Home Office in Croydon. Our case is still pending, we are increasingly depressed and stressed due to threats of deportation by the Home Office every now and then. I have been molested and harassed which has affected me physically and psychologically.
7. AI: I entered the UK on 7th May 2010. I met my partner the same time and we both live in one place and we have for 8 years now and he married me traditional in Nigeria cultural wedding. On 23/1/2018 I was detained, every application we make is refused, we are treated as liars. My partner is an Italian national and have lived in the UK for 20 years, he has medical health issue and he needs me around to take care of him. The Home Office refuse me bail because say there is reason to believe that I will fail to comply with any condition attached to the grant of immigration bail but since 2017 I have being reporting I never missed any and I am my partners carer. I don’t know what more we can do, this Home Office is just refusing everyone.
8. VO: I have lived in UK for 15 years. I have been in Yarl’s Wood IRC for 3 months 2 weeks and it’s my second time in Yarl’s Wood IRC. They have also given me a ticket to send me to Ghana. I have lived and settle in UK all these years and have no criminal record.
9. TB: I came into UK in 2010, I have a partner who is British we met in 2013 and live together since then. I applied for the right to stay as a partner but that was refused. I was detained in Nov 2017 and released in December 2017. But they have brought me back to this place, it is hell. I cannot go back to Nigeria, I was subject to terrible domestic violence by a partner who has threatened to kill me.
10. O: I came into United Kingdom on Nov 1st 2017, I was detained at the airport and brought to Yarl’s Wood detention. I ran away from Nigeria to seek refuge in the UK to protect my life from my deceased husband’s family as they were trying to kill me. I am a victim of rape. I seek asylum and ever since have been locked up in Yarl’s Wood for 7 months now, home office has refused to take into account that am a woman that has been physically and mentally tortured, my asylum claim has been refused and home office are threatening to remove me back to the country I ran away from. I cannot go back, I would rather die here.
11. JA: I have lived in the UK since 2004, 14 years. I came on a student visa but in 2009 the Home Office refused my application to continue my studies, nevertheless I studied and got my HND certificate but I was unable to sit for my degree. I applied for a spousal visa as my husband is an EEA national, but 3 times they have refused. IAll my family are in the UK and they are also EEA Nationals, my nieces and nephews, and my other brother is a British Citizen. I have worked in the care industry for 12 years, I love my work and want to stay with my husband and family here in the UK. Instead of living my life and being with my family I am locked up here with many other women with similar or sad circumstances, Yarl’s Wood should be shut down.
12. MA: Police picked me up on my way home from work, claiming they were looking for someone in my area. This happened 8 years ago despite me living in the country since 2004 (I have been in the UK for 14 years). I was placed on reporting conditions and I have been reporting for 8 years now, unable to work, trying to regularise my stay until two months ago when I was detained in Birmingham. I do not have any criminal record but I have been imprisoned here for going on 3 months.
13. YA: I am a Ghanaian national who has been living in the UK for 3 years. My partner owns a shop and I was helping him out while he was not there by working in the shop. I was at work one day when the immigration officers walked in. I have now been detained for about two months. I am currently feeling not too well, very anaemic and my blood level is 3 which is very bad. I am not happy, no one is happy here so I am pleading with the Ghanaian High Commission to speak on our behalf. This is not a detention centre it is a prison and the treatment here is appalling. I also call on the government of Ghana to act on our behalf.
14. A: I came to this country in 2010, have been here 8 years. I couldn’t return back to Nigeria because I lost my parents when I was a child, my aunty took care of me after my parents died. She wanted to give me away for marriage to an elderly person and the also wanted to circumcise me (female genital mutilation) and that is why I fear to return to Nigeria. I met my partner here and he has been supportive, I take care of his 7-year-old daughter who calls me mummy. I told the home office all of this but they don’t care.
15. GP: On 10th April 2018 I went to report as I had been doing every fortnight since 10th January 2018. On this occasion I was informed I had to be detained because my application had been refused. Neither my solicitor nor me was aware a decision had been made on my case. I was brought to Yarl’s Wood IRC from Leeds reporting centre, arriving late in the night at about 11.45pm. The next day I was given a removal window, followed by a ticket for the 24th April. My solicitor managed to put in a Judicial Review as my case had never been heard in court. As a result, the removal action was deferred. However I was refused bail because the home office said they wanted to keep me in detention to enable removal. I have now been in detention fro more than 6 weeks. I have no criminal record, I complied with all the conditions of my reporting, I have lived in the UK for nearly 10 years now and I have always sought to regularise my stay. It’s been a really sad and depressing experience for me. My sleeping patterns and eating patterns have been affected. I am writing my story in order to highlight the unjust and cruel way the home office is going about handling cases in detention.