My dream is to put my head on the pillow to sleep without thinking that tomorrow I might be forced on the streets

A Syrian asylum seeker at Brook House speaks about his experience coming to the UK 

I am of Syrian nationality, our country has been in an ongoing war for 10 years, I am 24 years old now, so when the war started I was 14 years old. I have not lived my childhood, during the period when children should be playing, my friends and I would be running because of the sounds of war.  

The war was ongoing for 5 years in the area I am from. I was also detained and tortured because of a Facebook post. The sounds I heard while in prison where even harder than the physical torture I received. After that, I had to leave Syria in 2017. And then when we left, the abuse, torture and mistreatment continued on the way.  

In Libya, some were captured and were blackmailed for money and possessions. Some were beaten up and enslaved. I gave them what they wanted because I did not want to be tortured again, I escaped from torture so I did not want this to happen again and anyway I only had little money on me. We faced one bandit after the other wherever we went, from Libya to Algeria to Morrocco. We walked in the desert, and sometimes there was no food and no water. We stayed in Libya for 15 days, then 1 week in Algeria, then 3 weeks in Morrocco. After that we tried to reach Melilla Spain. We tried to cross multiple times, but some would get beaten up, we were not treated like human beings. My friend tried to jump over the fence to get there, but he fell and broke his back so he had to stay in Morrocco. He couldn’t get treatment there because he didn’t have the right, and he couldn’t continue on his way.  

When we got to Melilla, we saw huge numbers of people from everywhere, all being kept in tents in the  detention camp. Each tent had around 300-400 people. When it was time to get food, the queue for food was for around 1-2 hours because of the huge numbers. Because of bandits, it was difficult to cross back to Algeria or to mainland Europe. A friend of mine got stabbed by them, another got beaten up and his arm got broken by them. It was hard to believe that what we saw in Mallela is happening in Europe. We were told that the only way we could leave is if we give our fingerprints, so that’s the only choice we had. From there we went to Dunkirk, where I stayed for 5 months. In the last 3 months, there were no NGOs and no help there, either because of COVID-19 or because the officials didn’t want anyone to help us. We used to go looking for firewood to cook our food.  

We used to walk for very long hours to attempt crossing to the UK. But multiple times we failed to cross, either because the police would catch us or because we would get stuck or lost in the water. Once the police took us to Lille to keep us away from the Jungle, and left us in the street; they even took our tents and food in Dunkirk. They were treating us as if we were an epidemic that they needed to get rid of. Because of this, we had to walk back to Dunkirk which took from 11 am until 5 am the next day 

We have no past, for 10 years of our lives we faced war, two sides were fighting, and we were in the middle. Always in the middle. Then we had to leave our homes. We are all running from destitution. We all have the same stories, 25 of us, so how come they are not believing us?  

People are struggling so much to get here. You do not suddenly wake up and decide to come here. It is not an easy task and we are paying a big price to get here. We lost everything, we are away from our families and we lost our homes. And on the way, we slept on the streets and in stations. We faced the waters, woods, deserts, and rain 

As soon as we got here, we felt so relieved. We thanked god. We didn’t have dreams before, our only dream was to arrive here. But when we got here, we finally felt like we had hope to start dreaming of other things. 

We had good days here but then one day I was awakened by 4 policemen who forced their way in and were standing over my head. I felt like I was back in Syria. They were acting as if I am a criminal. It’s as if they’re saying, good morning, we will now destroy your dreams. After 1 year of struggle and everything that we faced, they took me to Brook House and said that I was getting deported back to Spain. We were on the streets there, and now they want to send us back to the streets. Brook House is next to Gatwick Airport so we could hear the planes flying over us. In Syria, we were afraid of war planes, but now we are also afraid of passenger planes. We never know when it’s going to be our turn on one of those planes.  

Can you believe that our only hope is to live in safety with our families? This is my only dream. My dream is to put my head on the pillow to sleep without thinking that tomorrow I might be forced on the streets. For now, the flight to Spain got cancelled, but we don’t know what the future holds. I am living for the hope.  

 

 

I am still scared because I don’t know what is going to happen next

From someone due to be deported to Spain on 17th September

When we first came via the channel they took us to a hotel. We were in the hotel for about a month and they said we had to sign papers. While we were in the hotel and still signing the papers, that’s when they came and got us.

On the 22nd of August, that’s when they brought me to Brook House. On the 14th of September I tried to commit suicide before my ticket. They didn’t take me to the hospital, they just kept me at Brook House and gave me medicine. I spoke to my lawyer but I didn’t tell her that I tried to commit suicide. Because at that point she told me that the ticket had been cancelled. She said yesterday that she was going to call me to talk about my case but she still hasn’t called me.

How do you feel about the cancellation of the flight?

I am still scared because I don’t know what is going to happen next. Others have been released and I have not been given an address so I am still scared. I have an address to go to but I just need to be released.

What are conditions like in Brook House now?

It’s a mix, some people are getting released and some people are waiting to hear.

I just want to get out. I have a lot of anxiety and mental health issues.

My journey as a refugee from the war in Yemen till now – there’s always imprisonment and detention waiting for me.

A Yemini asylum seekers tells us his experiences of coming to the UK and his fears about his removal on the 17th September

My brothers and I arrived in the UK on June 24. This was our third attempt. On the first attempt, the engine stopped, and the second time, the boat started sinking. My younger brother can’t swim so he started drowning, but thank God I was able to help him and we came back. 

As we were close to arriving, we saw that the fuel on the boat was running out. We signalled to a ship to help us. It came close and we saw it was a French war ship. We panicked. We had been there for 6-7 hours already in the boat. We weren’t at all comfortable, and we were terrified – we felt we would drown. The French ship came close and asked if we needed help. We said no we don’t need anything. We preferred to stay in the sea for hours than to go back to France. 

They started laughing at us. We were terrified. After 30 mins we saw a British boat – when we saw the British flag we felt – I can’t explain it – we felt like the efforts had all paid off, we were overjoyed. We were in British waters. We finally arrived at a place called Dover. 

We were exhausted, we’d been travelling at sea from 4pm to 7-8am the next morning. But when we arrived, they didn’t let us rest; they photographed us, searched us, asked us lots of questions, where we’re from, how old we are, etc. But there were no translators, so I tried to translate because I know a little English. Then they put us in a bus and took us to a police station. The police were very serious, they didn’t smile or anything; the joy that was in our hearts from arriving there meant we didn’t care about their treatment. They weren’t happy at all. Even the doctors in Dover weren’t happy. Maybe because lots of boats arrived that day. When I arrived, I had seen my friends from Calais that had also arrived. We saw the police’s faces – they weren’t happy at all that we had arrived.

We had to stay in the police station for many hours – I can’t remember how many. Maybe 5 hours or more. There were more proceedings to be carried out – apparently the questions they asked in Dover weren’t enough. We waited some more before they put us back on the bus. They told us we were near London. We went to a detention centre. It was made up of rooms, each with a toilet. It was like a prison. 

I was there for 4-5 days. They gave us clothes, because our own clothes were full of sea water. We were happy even though we were in prison, because we were with our friends and we had arrived in the UK. Each day we were happier. After 4 days they did another interview with us. Why did you come to the UK? We said we want to claim asylum. They asked more and more questions.

The guards were very angry. I would ask for something, like I wanted a remote. They would say ‘Do you think you’re in a five star hotel? You’re in prison’. They were harsh with us. We asked for a cup to drink from, anything, even a plastic one. They gave us a disposable plastic one which we threw away after using. The next day they said ‘Where is your cup? You already had one’. No-one spoke Arabic. Many of us don’t speak English. Rather than trying to understand, they would shout at us. They were harsh with us, but we had to put up with it. We had to be quiet and take it – we’re refugees. 

Then they moved us to the hotels. It’s called Holiday Inn, and it was 5 stars. Of course, imagine, guys coming from the forest in Calais, where it’s freezing cold and you’re sleeping on the ground and facing racism from the French police and even from other refugees. Imagine going from that to a 5 star place, it was like heaven to us – there was a bath. To wash in Calais there was always an enormous queue. We would wait for hours just to wash for 5 minutes. They would say: ‘Here’s the water, go go go,’ and we would have to rush to wash. So when we were in this hotel and saw a proper bath we couldn’t believe it. We also had no opportunity to wash our clothes in Calais but here we could. We had what we needed, except for money. Food and drink was provided at the hotel. We were there for a month. They said it was because they had to check about coronavirus and that we would stay for 15 days, but it ended up being longer. 

After one month, we began communicating with an organisation which could help with residence and food. We were talking to them daily to ensure we could live together, me and my brothers. My father was already in the UK, and we wanted to see him and go and live with him. 

We were moved into a house after one month in the hotel, and our father was moved into the same house. When we saw our father, we were so happy. My mother, who is not in the UK, was also delighted that we were together again. But we were only together for one or two weeks. Every day was joy. We cooked, laughed together, like any family. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together, we went out together and did everything together. We went looking to see if we could study. We had ambitions. 

All this time we were hearing about people being detained. We were terrified that it would be our turn next. After all this exhaustion and everything that had happened, and then the joy of seeing our father, it would be so hard to be taken away. 

It was a Friday, we were at home, and I was studying English. We had planned to go out that day to sort out some insurance papers. The house was nice; it had bedrooms, a bathroom and even a garden where we could plant things. We were thinking of planting onions and tomatoes. 

Around 5 or 6pm, I heard sounds on the stairs. I heard more than ten people. They were really loud on the stairs. I didn’t expect there would be 10 police or people from immigration coming to get us. I thought we might get a letter from the Home Office or something. There were 10 or maybe more people. Straight away, when we opened the door one of them started shouting at us. I was really scared. They pushed themselves in. Said empty your pockets. I felt hopeless. They said you are going to be deported to Spain. 

They didn’t let us say goodbye to our father. They took us away, all three of us. We said to him, inshallah we will see you soon, and then we left. I had hoped the neighbours would come out and help us, and stop them taking us away. They tried to put each one of us in a vehicle, but in the end put me and my older brother in one bus, and my younger brother in a second bus. They took us to a police station. It was terrifying. There was an iron bed with a really thin mattress, we felt the iron more than the sponge of the mattress. After 5 or 6 hours they took me away by myself, and I asked where my brothers were. They said something about the coronavirus. They took us to Brook House – my brothers were together but I wasn’t with them. 

As soon as I arrived, I met people from Syria and Yemen, and I knew many of them from Calais. We greeted each other, saying we hope we all get out soon. But I still couldn’t see my brothers. I didn’t see them for five days. I kept looking for them and asking them where they were. I told them I would hurt myself if I didn’t see them. Finally, five days later I saw them. 

We tried to refuse eating, to show them that we were protesting what was happening. They treated us like criminals. We went on a hunger strike for 4 days. At first the Serco employees encouraged us nicely to eat, but then they changed their attitude and started saying ‘You will be deported in any case, the Home Office won’t change their minds, so what are you doing?’ After 4 days, they wore us down, a few of the guys started eating so we decided to eat too. Luckily there was an organisation which put us in touch with good lawyers. My lawyer would call me almost every day and follow up with my case, and she told me that I had a strong case and that I should be patient. She also referred us to a good psychiatrist who followed up with us. She helped us on lots of different levels. We owe her a lot.

The problem we are in now is one of life and death. Our first deportation ticket was Sep 3, for me and other guys from Syria and Yemen. Thank God, my ticket was cancelled. But sadly about 10 or 11 people from Syria were deported to Spain. The way they were deported was as if they were criminals. 3 people from Serco would go to the room to take just one person. Overall there were about 25-30 people from Serco there on Sep 3 to remove the group to the flight. They were giving us awful looks and didn’t say anything nice to us. We tried to say hello to them and they said nothing, they didn’t smile, nothing. 

The treatment was terrible, some of the Syrians would say things like ‘even in Syria it wasn’t like this’. 

I was terrified after I saw this on Sep 3. I went back to my room, but heard their shouts from my room. The shouts of the detainees, and the shouts of the police. I was terrified. I felt like I was hearing executions and waiting for my own. I saw them being dragged away, handcuffed. 

I went on another hunger strike for 5 days, because we heard that those in Spain were abandoned on the street, and I felt like my turn was next. The Serco guys would come every day and say ‘You’re about to be deported, why are you striking?’ 

After 5 days I started eating again. The lawyer was encouraging me and telling me that my case was strong. She said that if it goes to court, there should even be compensation because of the way they took me. But despite that, I felt despair, and for the first time ever I thought of suicide. I was homeless in the Netherlands and in Spain, but the first time I thought of suicide was in the detention centre. Thinking of the three huge guards in black who would come to my room and take me by force. I had nightmares about it. I was angry. I’m not an angry guy but I was so angry. I felt hopeless. 

They put me on the red list, which means people who are a suicide risk. They came every day to check my room. I tried to move away from those thoughts. Slowly my mental health got a bit better. But today is the 15th and I have a deportation order for 17th. So the thoughts of suicide are getting stronger. I am trying to stay with the guys here to stop thinking about it. Every day the fear is getting worse. 

After everything that has happened, I have no more faith in the security services, in the Home Office, anything. After the raids and everything. The house with my father is the only place I feel safe. This is the life of the refugee and the migrant. My journey as a refugee from the war in Yemen till now – there’s always imprisonment and detention waiting for me.

Detainee speaks on friends’ deportations: To the people who talk about human rights… come and see how they are treating us

A man fleeing violence in Syria calls us from Brook House IRC, a detention centre near Gatwick, London, He calls in the aftermath of the deportations of some of his Syrian friends today, his own deportation scheduled for the 17th September.

Normally they close the doors on us at 9pm, and they usually have about three guards on each floor. This time they had ten, so we knew something was happening. They took people downstairs, one by one, so we knew they were transporting them to the airport. 

There was someone who tried to hang himself with the TV cord. They came and cut the cord. They took him to the hospital, but then deported him anyway.

After my friends were deported, we could hear the very same guards  laughing and drinking all night till 4 am. As if they were celebrating the deportation. What is this racism? 

 I spoke to my friend today, who was deported. He is on the streets now. His brother passed away and his mother risked everything to get him here. There is nothing for him in Spain, you could say he might as well be in Syria. He doesn’t have his Syrian passport or his identity card. Nothing. No food. He is on the streets. There’s nothing.  

They deported them all without their passports, without their identity cards. They took them from us in Dover, and never gave it back to them. We’ve lost so much trying to get here. Our families have sold all their properties, and all that they have. They have nothing left. We are tired of this. It is too much. 

They are targeting people who crossed by water. They are trying to scare us.Where are the human rights that we hear about? There’s no human rights here. What have we done to deserve this treatment? 

Their lawyers were not responding to their calls. And before they were deported the lawyers’ lines said that their offices were closed. They did not help them. Even my lawyer charged me £1000 to take on my case, and another £600 to take my case to court. I asked the lawyer if there was hope with my case before he took it on, but all he wanted to do is speak about money from the start.

We have been  living with so much fear. Last night, everytime we heard a door open, we hid, thinking they were going to come for us. They had about 50 guards for 12 people. We are right next to the airport, and every time we hear a plane, it is a terrifying reminder for us. It would be almost  better if we had been deported together, so I wouldn’t be living in anticipation of my deportation, now for the 17th.

No one is telling us anything, no one is answering our questions. Are we just sheep to be told where to go and what to do? No one is informing us of what is happening. 

To the people who talk about human rights, come and see us, come and see how they are treating us. We Syrians do not want anything from you. We do not want housing or money. We just want to be released, we just want to live our lives. Why are others being released but not us Syrians?

The police hit me with a baton, on my legs, back and shoulder.

A Syrian refugee reports on his experience after being removed by charter flight to Spain on the 3rd September.

On the night of 2/9, officials came to the detention centre and told me I have a flight in a few hours. Police took me in a van to the immigration office, telling me they would let me talk when I got there. I told them I have applied for asylum in the UK. I don’t want to go to Spain. They put me in a van, and made me wait in the van until the morning. I didn’t leave the van for even one minute. 

They put us on the plane. There were four police around me. They held my wrists down so I couldn’t move. If i blinked they would consider it a sudden movement. They didn’t let me move at all. 

I asked for my passport and ID from the UK police. They told me that we would be given them when we arrived in Spain. We landed but we were not given our documents. I tried to go back to the UK police to get my passport, and a spanish police officer hit me hard on my shoulder and didn’t let me go back. 

They put us on a bus, took us to the airport, made us wait a little. Then they stamped our deportation paper and ejected us outside the airport. We were waiting about three hours. We had no money, no food or water. We were hungry. I went to the train station. I passed the barrier, with two others. The police caught us, beat me and broke my phone. The police hit me with a baton, on my legs, back and shoulder. I was detained for about an hour in the train station. They didn’t ask me anything about my situation. He just said you have no rights here. You have nothing here, you can’t come into the station, you have no passport or ID. They let us go about an hour later, and as I was taken outside the police officer hit me again, this time kicking me in the back. He said you have to leave Spain. I have no passport. We couldn’t find the rest of the group, and it took us about 2.5 hours to find them. 

We found them outside the airport, and there were more police there. They treated us badly. They didn’t let us sit anywhere. They kept telling us we had to leave Spain. 

We slept in the street that night, on the concrete. We felt scared. No cover, cars coming and going. There were drunk people in the street, and we were scared they’d attack us. There were cars which stopped and took pictures of us, laughing and mocking us. We didn’t sleep one bit. It felt like two nights, not one. 

In the UK we felt like humans for 3 months. Here we were treated inhumanely. People all night looking at us. It felt awful. We started crying. It was cold. My body hurt. I was hit by the police and then had to sleep on the street. I still haven’t slept. We have suffered a lot. Since I’ve left the UK I’ve been hit twice, once in the airport and once in the station. I have relatives in the UK, I have no-one here. My father died on 6/8, can you imagine, and then this happened. 

There’s a huge difference between Spain and the UK. The police, the people, we are not treated like humans here. We have no passport, we can’t walk about freely. We have nothing to prove our identity. I want to go back to the UK. I can’t even talk to my family, the police broke my phone and I don’t have their numbers. They don’t know where I am. How am I supposed to contact them?

We stayed outside the airport till the evening. No food, no water, nothing.

A Syrian national speaks after his Dublin deportation to Madrid by Charter Flight on 3rd September.

I was in a detention centre in the UK from 18/8. They gave me an appointment with a lawyer after 8 days, on the 26/8.

The lawyer asked me two questions. Why did I leave Syria? And why I didn’t want to go to spain. They did not ask many details. Of course I wanted to leave Syria, I could not stay. My friends were killed there. I am wanted for conscription to the army. I did not give my fingerprint in Spain, I refused to give fingerprints for asylum. I told this to the lawyer. 

I had travelled through Spain on my way to the UK. When I was there, I was in the street for 15 days in spain. The police made me give my fingerprint. I explained all this to the lawyer in the UK. And the lawyer said i shouldn’t worry.

He said I won’t be deported, he reassured me. Because I had a ticket to Spain for 3/9, but the lawyer told me I wouldn’t travel.

I was a victim of the lawyer.

He didn’t do anything for me. He didn’t change anything regarding my ticket

Our deportation date was on 3/9. The night before, they came and told me that I was travelling. I told them that I had a case to stay. 

They told me i had to leave. I didn’t want to leave. I have family here. I have an Aunt in the UK, my brother in law, cousins and friends. I know no one in spain. I will return to the streets there. 

At 2am on the 3/9, the officials came and told me I had to go to the immigration office. I told them I had a lawyer, they told me that I could talk about it at the immigration office. They told me I had time to tell them everything. I was surprised. I left without my stuff. There were a lot of security guards. They told me I had to get in the van. I told them I don’t want to go to Spain. I want to talk to a lawyer so i don’t get deported. They asked me if I was refusing to go and I said yes, I refuse. But they put handcuffs and a seat belt. When i left the prison there were 5 police officers making sure i stayed where i was and I didn’t talk to anyone. They handcuffed me and stayed with me in the van. 

We stayed in the van, and came to the immigration office. I told them I want to speak to a lawyer. I said, this is unjust, I want to talk to someone. They told me it’s done, you are leaving. I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone. I tried to call the lawyer and he wasn’t answering.I sent him a voice message. He didn’t reply.

I stayed in the van, even at the immigration office. They told me I would have time to talk at the office but no one gave me time. They didn’t let me get out of the van. The same van took me to the plane. I was in the van between 2 and 7am. I didn’t get out even once until I went on the plane. I was scared. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move even a tiny bit. I was scared. It was not just. I don’t speak English, no-one spoke Arabic. I didn’t know what would happen to me. No-one could help me. 

There were planes at the immigration office – there were not a lot of planes there, it wasn’t a normal airport.It looked like a cargo airport. With police to your right, to your left, above you and below you. There was nothing there but police. 

They took me to the plane. I told them that I didn’t want to get on the plane. I told them that I refused. There were five officers guarding me and I couldn’t do anything. They put me on the plane. We cried, we tried to tell them. I have family, I am the victim of my lawyer. I talked and poured my heart out. But that was it, we were on the plane. Someone on my left and someone on my right and someone in front. I was handcuffed, I couldn’t move. 

We were 11 people. All taken from the detention centre, Brook House. But we didn’t come in the same van. Each person was in a different van. The same police who were in the van were in the plane were in the place with us. There were a lot of security. I was surrounded by police. Everyone who was deported had about 3 people with them and we were handcuffed. We told them we are not criminals for you to treat us like this. We are not terrorists. We told them if we didn’t like this country and have relatives here we wouldn’t have come. No-one listened or helped us with anything. 

The UK authorities told us the spanish authorities will sort our stuff out for us in spain. They said they would treat us well. We arrived around 10am. There were 3 spanish police there, they put us in a bus, took us to the airport. We were in a hall in the airport, waited about 15 minutes. They took the deportation papers that we had with us and stamped them and returned them. One of us spoke some english and helped us translate. They stamped the papers and sent us outside. Noone asked us or told us anything. 

We stayed outside the airport till the evening. No food, no water, nothing. The videos speak for themselves, you don’t have to explain anything. Didn’t you see the videos? We were in the street. We’re still in the street into the evening. Nothing changed. How can a human person stay 12, 24 hours in the street with nothing, no food no water. There’s no humanity in that. 

One of us is 17. He is a child. 

When we left the airport we were about 3 hours without knowing anything. We walked about, hoping to get on a train to the centre, to find a place to stay. Three of the group passed the barriers, the police came and took them. They beat them, and broke one of their phones. We left the train station and went back to where we had been at first.

We didn’t all sleep in the same place. I was with four people. We didn’t have beds/mattresses. Some of the others slept in the street. It was an abandoned house. No furniture, nothing. 5 slept in this abandoned house, 6 in the street. Some people passed by those in the street and laughed and took pictures. They were making fun of us, mocking us. If we had died in our country it would have been more dignified. 

They will sleep rough, there is no support, they are homeless.

From a person in Brook House IRC:

They deal with us well here, but detention is bad.

When you put an asylum seeker in prison its difficult.

We are on hunger strike, because we need to know why they deported our friends today. 12 people, now they are homeless.

We feel sorry about our friends who were detained and taken to Spain, we received a call from them, they say that the government doesn’t give them accommodation or support, they will sleep in the street. They will sleep rough, there is no support, they are homeless.

That happened today, and because of that we are on food strike. Thirty people.

Maybe half us have been on food strike already for 15 days – they have lost more than 10 kilos of weight.

We will be on strike until we are released, because we are not criminals, we are not dangerous.

We are just asylum seekers.

They put us in a room, they close the door from 9pm till 9am, inside the room. 7 people tried to commit suicide during the past month. So when we hear that about our friends, committing suicide and being deported to live on the streets, its bad news, we are frustrated, we can’t sleep.

So maybe 80% of us have psychological problems – lack of sleep, no appetite.

Some of them said that ‘had we known that we’d be put in prison we’d prefer to die in our country than to claim asylum’.

There is no dignity here for a human.

We will be patient until we see what will happen. Everyone waits for his destiny. We don’t know if they will deport us or release us, we don’t know. And deporting is not an easy decision to take, it changes a life. It changes life. It takes way dignity. Someone lives in peace, and they make them homeless. I’s too much to handle. Can you imagine that, 12 people who were sent today to Spain, they beg just for a blanket to sleep, and no-one gives it them.

I ask my friends every day in the morning: ‘is it to reach this life that I jeopardised my soul and my money, coming by the sea?’ – it was so dangerous for everyone to reach here. We already faced such a bad and harsh life in our country, so to face it more here is something difficult.

That’s our story.

There was a bombing in my city when I was in Brook House, and my family is there. They did not take that into consideration.

We spoke to a refugee from Syria after his deportation to Germany from Brook House, near Gatwick airport, UK. This is what he said. 

I came from Syria to Turkey and then to Greece, and then from Greece to Germany, and then from Germany to the UK. Throughout the journey, I have been walking through wilderness with my crew. We witnessed all types of ripping off in terms of taking our money or whatever we own. We’ve been treated badly. We’ve been abused by the authorities and smugglers.

From Calais to the UK, I’ve also experienced bad treatment from smugglers. I tried three times to reach the UK. And then as soon as I arrived, I got detained and kept for 20 days.

When I was detained, they asked me to put an address. I put down my relative’s address and went there when I was released. When I got there, I spoke to a lawyer, who told me that all of my papers were fine and that I would not get deported. And then I even tried to start contacting the council for housing and financial help. I stayed in the UK for 5 months and a half.

Then suddenly, they arrested me from my home and took me to the police station. After the police station, we stayed for 2 hours on the road, not knowing where I was going. I ended up in Brook House.

When I arrived in Brook House, I hired another lawyer. People there told me that lawyers that take money are better. When I hired the other lawyer he assured me that it was a very simple procedure and that in two days, I would get out. Thirteen days passed and nothing happened—he didn’t file any papers or do anything. So then, I contacted an organization, which found me someone, another lawyer, to help me. The lawyer that I contacted helped me set a date with the Immigration Tribunal but I got that a day before the deportation. Unfortunately it was too late, so then I got deported.

I asked for a doctor because I heard of Rule 35 relating to torture. I was tortured in Syria and have marks on my body. I thought that having a Rule 35 report would help me. But it didn’t help me at all, especially since they gave me an appointment with the doctor after the day I was supposed to be deported.

Even the way that they entered the cell, when they wanted to deport us, was scary. Six guards entered the room. They did not take into consideration that I was tortured. I told them that I was tortured and that I am scared of prison. But they didn’t take that into consideration. I didn’t see the humanity they say exists in the UK, which is the reason I came here. I left Syria and different places in Europe because I heard it would be different in the UK. But I didn’t see the humanity in Brook House. They also did not take into consideration that the city that I am from in Syria is now in conflict. The Kurdish and Turkish forces are fighting there now and they didn’t take into consideration that the place where I am from is dangerous.

They are also shellings in the city where I’m from. There was a bombing there when I was in Brook House and my family is there. They also did not take that into consideration. The day before I got deported, I also burned my leg and told them about this, but I did not receive help. They just put cold water on it. And now my leg has gotten worse.

The way that they enter the cell is scary. They came and started saying that they wanted to restrain me in order to take me but I told them “No, please don’t do that, I can walk by myself”. They are doing exactly what they do in al-Assad’s prisons.

There were 12 of us on the deportation flight. They took us in a car and I was with five guards. I was in the middle and two were in the front and the back. They took us directly to the gate of the plane. I was not restrained because I said that I would not resist, but others were restrained. There was social distancing and we were wearing masks because of COVID-19.

As soon as we arrived in Germany, the German police took us in a bus to the station. They gave us tickets and told us to go back to the city where we gave our fingerprints. I know, and I have heard from others, that we will not be given asylum but will be given protection. I have a cousin who has been living in Germany for a few months and they only gave him protection, but no asylum. What will I do with protection? I don’t need this. Because if you don’t have asylum, you can’t bring your family here and you can’t travel. I have three kids who are in Syria. If I can’t bring them here, I will not stay away from them. So I might as well go back to Syria and live under the war than be away from them.

There are experiences of many Syrians who have lived there for 3 or 4 years and they only received protection. Until now they couldn’t get their families to rejoin them.

If they can give us asylum elsewhere, then they can do that. But they don’t want to do that. My uncle is in the UK, I have many relatives in the UK. I have no family members in Germany. I wasn’t headed to Germany, I was headed to the UK. My destination was the UK, not Germany. But they caught us in the smugglers’ car in Germany. They told us to give fingerprints, but told us that the fingerprints were for forensics, not for asylum. After I was released from the police station in Germany, I continued on my way to the UK. So I actually stayed in Calais more than in Germany. And now they want to send me back to Germany.

Letter from Brook House: “What have we done to deserve this?”

The following is a statement taken from a Syrian man currently detained in Brook House.

In 2017, I was imprisoned in Syria for 2 weeks. When I came out, I went to the area where there wasn’t the presence of the regime. In 2018, the regime arrived in those areas. In April 2019, they were recruiting people old and young. You either had to join them and help them kill people or they kill you. This is when I left Syria. I travelled through Lebanon, Sudan, Libya and then Algeria and Morocco. 

From Morocco, I tried to get into Melilla. There were people who were charging 3,500 euros to help cross the wall. I was trying to find a way to cross without paying this money. I got to Melilla and was there for 17 days. I talked to the Spanish officials there and said that I wanted to go to the UK because I have a lot of friends there. The best thing they said they could do for me was to send me to Madrid, so that’s what they did. Then I went from Melilla to Madrid, and then on the same day I went to Paris and then Belgium. I then went back to France to Dunkirk. 

It cost 700 euros to cross the channel and there is no choice, they have weapons – these people that are supposedly helping you but they are just taking our money. And the French police don’t do anything to challenge them. They had guns and no one said anything. After we crossed we came to Dover. It was 6 hours long and we thought we were going to die. 

I was taken to Luton, where I was for 3 months. While I was there, they said I could be placed in Croydon if I signed a piece of paper. But when I got there, Border guards took me to Brook House detention. They are saying they will put me on a Dublin flight to Spain, even though I have no refugee status in Spain. 

We went through so much to get here, it was torture and punishment. The whole way the traffickers treated us like slaves. And here when people have tried to commit suicide, all they do is take them to hospital and then deport them any ways. A friend self harmed very badly and they just put him on a flight straight back to France.

I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. It’s like we are in Bashar Al Assad’s Prison here.

There are 17 Syrians in Brook House and 20 Yemenis. Many of  the Syrians are from my village. Why are they punishing us here? What have we done to deserve this? All we want is to be treated with humanity and to be given our human rights that we deserve and that we could not get in our home countries. 

 

Letter from Syrian Detainee

Translation of letter above.

When I was in Syria, I was under many types of torture, humiliation and oppression and was imprisoned in 2017. I was unable to leave Syria until 2019. I left from Syria to Lebanon, and from Lebanon I went to Sudan then to Libya, then to  Algeria and then to Morocco. After that, I went to Spain. When I entered Spain, I was exposed to a gang of criminals who wanted a fee as entry into Spain and they said I would need to pay 3500 euro, but I didn’t have this money and so I was subjected to their attempts to kill me. Then I went to the Spanish police and told them what had happened with me but no one helped me. And I told them about my journey to get to Britain, and they told me that they need to take my fingerprints, and they told me that they were taking it to record a crime. They then took me from Melilla to [mainland] Spain, where I met the same criminals [who were trying to kill me] and so I went to France then to Belgium then after that I returned to France and I entered the UK.

When I entered Britain I came via water, it was a death trip, I didn’t expect to reach the UK. I crossed an entire channel where ships sailed and saw death every second of the journey on the dinghy. Praise God I reached Britain well and safe and I found peace and stability and the kind of life I dreamt of for the last ten years in Syria. Then 3 months after arriving in Britain, they brought me to this detention centre, and they told me that they will basically send me back to Spain because they took my fingerprints in Spain as a refugee. I told them that when I came to Spain that the fingerprints they took were not to do with being a refugee but taken for a criminal report and I told them that my path to Britain was so that I connect with my family and friends and the people who I love but the British authorities are insisting on my re-entry to Spain  even with the knowledge that I previously faced attempted murder in Spain at the hands of the criminals. I endured various types of abuses in Syria and during my trip that took a year and a half. It is hard explaining all that I have gone through on some lines on a paper because the pain within oneself is much harder to explain.

This is a story of a Syrian man, and I ask the reader of this who is wanting to spread my story to do so without my name because I am wanted in Syria and I don’t want them to kill my family in Syria, knowing that for me there is nothing for me except my mother and my siblings, and my father who was arrested 5 days ago [in Syria].

Thank you everyone.

Syrian Refugees in Brook House speak out: “We did not see any humanity, only humiliation.”

A statement from 6 Syrian men currently detained in Brook House. 

We are people who have lost everything. We lost our families, friends, homes. There is nothing left. Nothing left for us but the hope to feel safe and happy in a country that respects us, a country of humanity . We passed many countries where we were treated like animals, where we received no compassion or humane treatment. We got beaten up, tortured and enslaved. We were faced with two options, either slowly die where we are, or risk dying at sea for the hope of safety in the U.K. After a tough journey at sea, that lasted many hours, where so many of us nearly died, thank God we arrived safely. We stayed in an accommodation for around 3 months, we finally felt like we are human beings. We felt safe. Then one day we receive a letter by post asking us to go to sign a document, and then we can return to the accommodation. We want to follow all the rules here, so we obeyed them and went to sign. As soon as we arrived, we got detained. 

Ever since we got detained, it has been a constant war on our nerves. We are all suffering from psychological trauma. We were told we are getting deported back to Spain in less than a week, we couldn’t sleep and we can’t eat. If someone is telling you they are going to be deported, how are you supposed to feel? We have no drive/ urge to eat knowing that they can take you and an hour later, you are gone. 

We knew we were being sent back to our deaths. If everything was fine in Spain, why would we have risked our lives to get here? If you knew you were being sent to death, you would also feel like you can’t sleep, eat or talk to anyone. Some of us haven’t had any food in 10 days. And then the night before the planned deportation, they say our flight has been delayed for a week. So we live the emotional torture once again. and over and over again. We are all educated and aware people, but if you see us now, we are going mad here. Our time here is making us remember every detail from our journey. We have seen death. We are talking to ourselves. When we hear the word Home Office, we shiver. When they open the door to the room, we all run to the corner from fear of deportation. 

I know we came here without papers, but we had no other choice. We always follow the rules. We just want to live, we are only asking for safety, we don’t want anything else. Whichever country we crossed, we were treated like we are worthless whenever they heard we are Syrian refugees. Wherever we went, people were racist towards us, there were no human rights and no humanity. In Spain, we got beaten up and abused. In the camp, they put 100 of us in the same tent and there was drugs and alcohol. They enjoyed hurting us. We were questioned over our every move. We did not see any humanity, only humiliation. We came to the UK because we know there is humanity here. In the UK, we feel safe. All the families, friends and relatives we have are here. Now they are forcing us to leave. If we go back we will die for sure. It’s emotional torture in detention. We just want to be treated like others. We are only asking for safety. We don’t want anything.

We left our families and homes in Syria. The only community we have is in the UK and they want to separate us from it.