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.

Yemeni refugee in temporary housing reports on conditions: “There is no communication.”

This person is currently housed in a hotel near Heathrow. It appears to be short term asylum housing but there are concerns about provision and access to guidance and support.

I left Yemen in 2015. I crossed 7 countries and then, after 7 hours by sea, I arrived in the UK. I crossed with 11 others 20 days ago.  When I got to the UK the police took him. *** who works for an organisation in South London contacted me. The police took my fingerprints and made me fill out papers. Then I was taken to this hotel near Heathrow.

They have said that it is to quarantine us and that it would be 14 days but it has been longer. I do not know how long we will stay here.

There are about 150 to 200 people here, I am not too sure.

I am currently staying at a hotel. The treatment has been really bad. I have tried to speak with them about it and they are very dismissive. 

One of the main things is the food. They have been giving us the same food every day for every meal. The portions are very small. There is a small packet cereal that is made for a child. I have tried to tell them that I am hungry and they say they have already given him the food.

I have a friend here that is British. The security did not allow him in, they do not allow visitors here. I am able to leave so I went outside to meet them.

I haven’t left the hotel but other residents say that the hotel closes at 10 pm and that we can’t leave later than 10pm.

I don’t have any complaints about the room but the way they treat me is very dismissive – they don’t look at you and feel superior. Whenever I ask for something, there is only 1 person at the hotel and they are not kind.

I spoke to *** who filled out the documents – I don’t know their organisation. If I need a lawyer I think I can speak to one. No one has spoken to him in the hotel or anywhere. It is only because I met someone in Greece that I was able to find some help. But I don’t know whether I need one or not – I don’t know my situation at the moment.

No one else in the accommodation has any contact with anyone. Especially the people I came with – who are Sudanese and Yemeni. They have just been told that they are in quarantine for 14 days. When *** tried to bring me clothes, they are not letting them go inside. So we have had no support.

I have not been getting any support with my psychological condition. I get flashbacks from back home when my father passed away from a car bombing.

I don’t know what is going on, there is no communication.

“We came to look for a safe place to live”: nineteen Syrian refugees speak from Brook House IRC

This statement was given by a group of 19 people from Syria, currently detained in Brook House IRC. Their ages range between 18 and 45. 

We just want to tell the world that we are not criminals. We came to look for a safe place to live. We left Syria to escape war. We came here, and they asked us to sign on – but while we were doing that, they arrested us, they detained us. 

Lawyers are speaking to us but no-one is being released. Other people are being released, but the Syrians are not. They released a couple Yemeni people yesterday, and the day before a couple others. 

The lawyers are charging us money, but how can we pay?  We are refugees. We are not allowed to work.

We came across the channel over the water. We came with Iraqis and Yemenis.  The Syrians are the smallest group of people. We all came by crossing the water.

We knew we could die on that trip. We risked our lives to reach the UK, a land of  humanity, of freedom, democracy and human rights. 

We haven’t eaten for six days. There are a lot of people who are not eating from the mental state they are in. We are not sleeping. We are not in a good place.

The things we have gone through, and the way our mental state has been tested, you’d be surprised that we are functioning human beings. 

We have traveled a long way. We are all going through the same thing right now. The same pain.

We are requesting to not be sent back to Spain.

 

– 19 people from Syria, speaking from Brook House detention center. Ages range between 18 and 45. Anonymity maintained for fear of repercussions. 

 

Brook House protestor on his deportation: “I was still bleeding, there was blood everywhere.”

This statement was given after the persons charter flight deportation to France from the UK under the Dublin Regulation. They had been part of hunger strike protests since August 13th 2020. The night before their removal, 8 people attempted suicide and 3 were taken to hospital at Brook House IRC.

I was in the UK for 2 months and then I spent 1 month in Brook House. While I was in Brook House I had a lot of anxiety issues. I tried to see a doctor, but could only see him once a week.

On the night of the deportation I self-harmed before the flight and they took to me to the hospital. I was there for 4 and half hours, they said to come back to change the bandages the next day and check my injuries. But they didn’t follow the advice of the doctor, they deported me the next day.

When they took me back to Brook House from the hospital I was put in an isolation cell and was watched 24/7. I was in the cell for 6 hours, they transported me from the hospital to the cell in a wheelchair. I was still in a wheelchair when 4 guards took me to the car which drove me to the airport. They put a mask on me but I was still bleeding from my face. When we reached the airplane, they couldn’t put the wheelchair on the plane, they didn’t try to. I couldn’t get up and move, two of the guards had to pick me up and carry me on their shoulders onto the airplane.

I was tied with a cloth around my hands and my waist. There were four guards with me and during the whole flight, they sat next to me, one on either side and in front.

I was in a lot of pain, I was still bleeding, there was blood everywhere. When we reached Clermont Ferrand in France, the guards had to carry me off the plane on their shoulders again. They took me to a doctor who tested me for coronavirus and finally gave me a wheelchair to sit in. Another doctor came to see if they could deport me immediately from France and put me on another flight, but said my injuries were too bad for me to be deported again. They didn’t check to help me, just for procedure. They took me in the wheelchair, and drove me 15 minutes away to sign some papers to give my fingerprints. They gave me two different pieces of information, they said I need to leave the country immediately but the translator told me I need to sign on every 15 days. I’m very confused. I tried to go to the UK and they sent me back to France and now France want to send me back to Kuwait, I don’t know what to do.

I’m now being helped by some friends, but now I need to leave because I can’t stay. I don’t know what to do, I’m so confused. Where am I supposed to go? There’s no humanity.

Brook House protestor on his deportation: “It was the hardest night of my life.”

This statement was given after the persons charter flight deportation to France from the UK under the Dublin Regulation. They had been part of hunger strike protests since August 13th 2020. The night before their removal, 8 people attempted suicide and 3 were taken to hospital at Brook House IRC.

Telephone interview with a deportee from Britain to France August 27, 2020, 2:00 pm

Q: How do you feel on the night of your deportation from Britain?

A: It was the hardest night of my life. Break heart so great that I seriously thought of suicide, I put the razor in my mouth to swallow it; I saw my whole life pass quickly until the first hours of dawn.

The treatment in detention was very bad, humiliating and degrading. I despised myself and felt that my life was destroyed, but it was too precious to lose it easily. I took the razor out from my mouth before I was taken out of the room, where four large-bodied people, wearing armour similar to riot police and carrying protective shields, violently took me to the large hall at the ground floor of the detention, I was exhausted, as I had been on hunger strike for several days. In a room next to me, one of the deportees tried to resist and was beaten so severely that blood drip from his nose. In the big hall, they searched me carefully and took me to a car like a dangerous criminal, two people on my right and left, they drove for about two hours to the airport, there was a big passenger plane on the runway, we were 12 people deported and each person had four guards inside the plane, and I saw a large number of people in uniform on the plane. That moment, I saw my dreams, my hopes, shattered in front of me when I entered the plane.

I fled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after I was beaten in public in front of people and tortured in prison, and upon my arrival in Britain, I felt temporary safety and that life gave me a new opportunity for a decent life and dignity.

A month after my arrival in Britain, I applied to study a bachelor’s degree in business administration online and got admission. I was staying in Birmingham temporarily while awaiting the completion of the interview procedures for my asylum application.

My ambition was great to complete my higher education and to bring my wife to Britain, and my dreams to serve people and society and support the country that opened a new human life for me.

It was the shock of life until the blood in my veins dried up throughout the period of detention and I spent the time sitting on my bed in an unbelievable state of amazement, sweating day and night and my temperature rose despite the cold weather in the room.

I was the only Yemeni in the plane, among the rest of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti nationalities, and one of them was full of blood on his clothes, face and body because of his attempt to kill himself. We arrived in Germany after 3 hours of transit and then to France for another 3 hours.

We took off from Stansted Airport via a company called Titan Airways based of Stansted Airport. I learned that previously there was a military base used for deportation.

Upon our arrival in France, the French police was there waiting for us, and we were handed a paper with the address of the place where we were previously fingerprinted and an address for follow-up.

The French authorities did not provide any form of humanitarian support, even water, as the simplest example.

Currently, I am trying my best to help the rest who are at risk of deportation, by contacting several charitable and human rights organizations.

Entry to Britain will not stop due to the very bad conditions in France and the inhumane treatment there, where refugees are left on the streets exposed to dangers and diseases, especially with the spread of the Corona epidemic among refugees in Calais camps, in which the French authorities do not take the necessary measures to protect them, as refugees expel those who were infected and isolating.

Attempts to smuggle into Britain continue, as many have told me here. I don’t have any expenses or money to struggle to survive. If I obtained safety in France, the right to residency, and the right to work, I would not think of asylum elsewhere, and I would be useful for society and the country, but France does not fulfil the minimum of its humanitarian responsibility towards refugees.

End.

Father of three sons detained in Brook House: They didn’t let me say goodbye.

I came to the UK by myself, by plane in November. My children arrived in the UK by small boats. They struggled hard to get here. They were in Spain and then went to Holland, and they me a man took them to Calais. They tried twice to take a dingy and it capsized, and they had to go back. Finally, it got to Dover. I requested that they would be placed with me. In July, they gave us a family residence in Manchester – they gave them ID cards, they had applied to university. And then on Friday the officers came to collect them and took them to Brook House.

It has been really hard. My sons have a lot of anxiety and depression. They are not eating and sleeping. I try to tell them not to let this situation consume them. But one of my sons is just crying. It just felt that their dreams were about to happen and then they were taken away. As a Dad, any time I see their clothes in the house, I also cry.

We came to this country expecting the UK to care about humanity, that there would be less racism here. The reality is so different. They have destroyed our family and they have destroyed my sons’ future.

When the officers came to our house, they treated us as if we were criminals. They barged into the house. They put my sons in separate cars so they couldn’t be together. They didn’t let me say goodbye.  There was no need for them to come in and be so aggressive like this.

Thank you for making me believe that there is some humanity left in this country.

Brook House Protester: I want to ask people to sign the petition to stop the flight

Everyone is very tired and exhausted in Brook House. We have not been eating and drinking. Many people feel very hopeless and suicidal. They feel they don’t have a point to their lives. There were about 5 people who self harmed last night because they are afraid of being deported. The officers are treating us well but the reason we are on hunger strike is the decision by the Home Office to deport us. This decision has not taken into consideration the fact we came to the country to live peacefully.

I want to ask people to sign the petition to stop the flight. We have tried to overcome the oppression in our countries and now we are facing these new challenges and we need your help. I want people to act as soon as possible, because me and my friends are just waiting to be removed tomorrow.

Thank you to Medical Justice and Emily for keeping in touch with us. Thanks to all the NGOs and organisations that are helping us. Thank you to the organisation that help me while I was in Coventry – they treated me really nicely.

Brook House Protest: I’m still on a hunger strike, and I will continue the strike.

I’m from Yemen. I’ve seen war in all of its details, all of its destruction, death, repression, mines, death, everything. My uncle, friends, and relatives, died. I remember those who died, our most beloved. I lived war. I only left after I experienced it. We, young men, are a target. We were targeted by the Houthis because my relatives worked in hospitals and helped the injured. To this day every time I call my family or friends, I receive news that this or that friend died by stepping into a mine, or being hit by shells or missiles.

My whole neighborhood is destroyed. I lived the war in all of its details. When things went really bad, I tried to leave. I did not tell my family that I would leave the country, I only told them that I will go to a relatively safer city in Yemen. I borrowed money from this and that friend, then went to Mauritania. We walked by the border with Mali. We were caught by this gang, and they threatened to take our organs. We were stuck between smugglers and human traffickers. They threatened to take our organs or blackmail our families. My family did not know I left; that would’ve devastated them. We were able to get out of that, and we reached Algeria. We were sleeping in the desert cold; taken from one smuggler to another. From Ain Saleh, for a few months, to Ghardaia, where the Algerian army detained us for 15 days. They took everything from us, and deported us to the Niger desert. I still remember to this day, the soldier told me, “this is the road to Niger, this is the road to death.”

We were accompanied by Palestinians and others. We wandered from one region to another. And we were held in this room on the border with no toilet. We used plastic bags. We were there for a few weeks. Eventually we managed to enter Morocco, but we were caught and deported to Algeria, and they were going to deport us to Niger, but we escaped the Algerian army and returned, without any money. We slept on the streets. We tried to get to Spain, to Melilla. It took us 3 months to enter. After nearly 25 attempts, we did. We were beaten really badly. They treated us like slaves, not like refugees.

We entered Spain. They put us in a building with 600 people from all nationalities. I am short. I was subjected to beatings and sexual harassment. Whenever I tried to file a complaint to the Spanish guards, they would either laugh at me or would not understand what I said. It was 40 days in hell. I wished I could return to Yemen. Sometimes we washed the guards’ clothes so they wouldn’t beat us.

Then they transferred me somewhere else, because I complained a lot. I could barely walk 30 metres. Then they transported us to Valencia, and kicked us out into the streets. I spent three weeks on the streets, knocking the doors of one charitable society after another, but we were only met with rejection. The police treated me like a criminal, and used pepper spray on me, even though I’m a refugee. Even on the streets in Spain, I was sexually harassed. When I realised things are not going to work out in Spain, I decided to migrate, to Belgium.

I’ve seen people scattered on the streets in Belgium. We had our fingerprints taken in Spain, in Germany, and now we’re in Belgium, eating and sleeping on the streets, and being chased on the streets. I was going to request asylum in Belgium, but then I saw the situation of my peers, and some told me that they came over like I did, and were then thrown into the streets. Five years in war, and I thought I was brave among my family, but here I am being subjected to sexual harassment and the like. We moved to France. I contacted my family and told them I’m in France. I asked them for money so I can pay to the smuggler to enter Britain since there we would not face beatings and the like. From Dunkirk, which is filled with smugglers, we had difficulty, since we Arabs are hated by Kurdish smugglers, and so we faced difficulty.

We tried and tried. One day a smuggler told us if he sees us there again, he will kill us. We kept roaming France for a month. We reached Calais, and it’s filled with smugglers. I thought Europe would be a heaven. I developed a skin condition in Spain that they refused to provide treatment for.

The sea was my last hope. I thought to myself, if I don’t reach Britain, at least I will die in the sea, instead of returning to the streets of Europe. I was hoping that if I get to Britain, I will finally be able to live and start a life, and all the bitter days would be over; that it would be a watershed. I wrote my will and handed it to a friend, just in case, so he would tell my family, so they would forgive me. We were in the sea for eight hours. I felt regret. Why did I leave my family, why have them live in war on their own. I thought I’m selfish, because I left them. I should’ve continued to live with them. Not leave them and live on my own. Now when I call my family, they still struggle with what I used to struggle with. When I reached Britain, I thought I reached a safe harbour. You know, one would hope to die in his homeland, in his mother’s arms, to see his family and loved ones.

I reached Britain, and spent 4 months trying to build a new life, until that day. I had a GP. I explained to him my physical and mental health, and he provided me with care, until that day. We were in our place, I was happy, I was optimistic, and then all of a sudden, the police came over and took us. I asked them what crime did I commit, but they just took us to detention. They told me you have a fingerprint in Spain. I told the investigator, and the lawyer, if I was a refugee there why would they have me sleep on the streets? No matter what I said they would not believe. They just told me, ‘this is the law’.

I’m still on a hunger strike, and I will continue the strike. I told them that if I am to be deported to Spain, I will not be deported alive. I will not go back to a life of homelessness, to those who beat us and harassed us. You cannot know how I feel right now, since you’re not in my place. I’m only telling you a small portion of what happened. I can go on forever. I lost my family, my father, my mother, my friends, my city, and they’re all still in war. I thought that Europe would be a heaven on earth, that I will get to live and make something out of myself. Now, I think I lived like a king in my country. My last hope was Britain. I crossed the sea with my kafan on my hand, I either get to the shore or die. We faced gangs and threats, but Britain ruined everything. They want to get us back to point zero.

We’ve been here for two weeks. They lock us in our room from 9PM to 9AM. From day one I went on strike. Here, you’re subject to deportation at any moment. Every night, I can barely sleep. I’d wake up to every passing shadow, to every passing guard. Every time, I tell myself, “this is it”. I can’t even begin to describe it. If you look at my life, from beginning to end, you’d feel bad over all the time you lost, all the years gone. Five years lost to war, a year or so lost in Europe. I will not go back to live through that suffering again. My family calls me, and I tell them, “they put us in schools” and “I am now studying”. I don’t tell them that I am facing deportation. If we are deported, there is nothing but death. They think we came from a paradise. No, we came from the hell of war in Yemen, hell of displacement, hell of smuggling, and now they want to ruin everything.

You don’t even know how it’s like here with the guys and how we’re feeling. As soon as our room is closed, we’re tense and waiting. Where are we going to be deported to? Spain and the streets. To the starting point.

All that I experienced in the war in Yemen does not reach this level of suffering. And here we are waiting, for our execution. They tell us they’re just enforcing the law. I do not envy others, but if this is the law, why is it selectively enforced. I know others who had fingerprints elsewhere who were granted asylum. We are waiting for the 27 of August, the day we die. They either leave us here, or deport us. If I knew this was what I was going to face, I would’ve preferred to die in my homeland. At least there I’d see my family. I’m full of regret. I am selfish. I left my family. I would rather die close to my mother than on their streets. They sentenced us to death.

Brook House Protester: ‘We came here and we just want the chance to live and find peace.’

We are Yeminis and we are detained here, in Brook House in the UK. Our country is going through a war.

We left Yemen to escape persecution and war and to avoid death. And to come to a country that is safe, where we can live safely and healthily without fear of persecution.

All the cities have been destroyed by the war. There are so many weapons in the country. They are giving weapons to young kids to turn them into soldiers. There is a lot of corruption and there are no jobs. There is no choice other than to be involved somehow in the conflict. The youth feel like they are being brave and courageous by joining and it makes them feel that they are involved in something important, but they are dying or being imprisoned.

We are protesting because we are trapped and detained, and we are being threatened with removal to Spain on Thursday. When people leave their country they come to a place like the UK for its peace and safety. We don’t want to take advantage of welfare or anything, we want to work and study and to contribute to society. For Yemenis, a lot of us feel that there is peace and security in Britain.

I feel that the UK is our mother country because there are a lot of Yemenis here, we have family and family friends here. There are twenty Yemenis that are detained. Their mental health is suffering from the situation; they just want to get out and live in peace.

The protests are to bring attention to the suffering of the Yemini people, so that we can be released. And so that we are able to live with peace and justice. We hope that the British government will act justly and let us live here.

To get to Britain there was a lot of pain along the way. At first I was in Mauritania, then I was in the deserts of Mali. Then we made our way to Algeria after a 3 day long trip in which we ran out of water. We were scared that the government would catch us and send us back to Niger because that’s what they were doing to a lot of refugees and it happened to my friends. They were sent back to Niger after numerous attempts and payments that they made to get to Algeria. We then walked to a place in Algeria over 2 days – during which we were not allowed to stop or sit down. In the day time we were hiding and in the night time we were walking. We reached a place called Aïn Salah (Algeria). And then walked to another place called Ghardaia (in Algeria). After the sunset, we walked as far as we could until it was morning in an area called Djidiouia (Algeria), and the guy that was taking us was scared he would get caught and left us in the desert all the day. We were out of food and water and we were trying to hide. A lot of people gave up – they tried to find officials to hand themselves in.

Then the guy that was taking us came back and we started walking immediately – through mountains – I felt  faint and like I was going to pass out. When we reached Oujda (Morocco), 20 of us crammed into a car. The people in the car were from all over, some Syrians, some Yemenis. At each checkpoint/city, you had to pay a sum of cash. Up until this point I had given $3,500. I was lucky because other people had to pay a lot more.

I went to Nador in Morocco and we were there for 3 months. People would say they could take us to Europe but then they would take our money and then leave us. There are still some people I know who have lost all their money and are still waiting in Nador. And If you didn’t have money, people would try to jump over the wall to get to Melilla. This wasn’t free either – it would still cost money to climb the wall. I know some people who have fallen and broken their legs are still waiting to climb the wall. I finally crossed the wall.

In the camp in Melilla, it was tough. There was a lot of stealing; people had knives. It felt lawless. I wanted to leave and get out as soon as possible. When I was given refugee status, I was able to get to Madrid. I tried to get to the UK through Belgium and then from France. I was in Dunkirk for a month. I went to a car park there to try to get onto a truck, but there were people with weapons, and  it wasn’t possible even after several attempts. In the jungle there was a lot of conflict between people.

I got on a small boat to the UK – we thought we were going on a truck but that didn’t happen. We were told we had to go by water. They said it was going to be a short trip of 40 minutes. In fact, we left at 3am and we were still going at 8am. There were a lot of waves – we saw death. All we could see was water and sky. People had paid $3000 or $5000 to make this journey and they really thought they were going to die. Some people had paid all that they had, and owned some even borrowed from family to make this payment. 

On the journey, I was thinking about all I had to endure to get there. I was thinking about being close to death in the desert and death in the waves. I felt that like this was the end.

I remembered in the desert, I was so desperate that I asked my friends to just leave me there but they helped me push through. I thought of all this while thinking that I was going to die on the boat. I remember when we spent a night in Dunkirk, and one of the mafia  threatened us and said that this is your last night here otherwise we’ll shoot you.

And I felt a deep sorrow and sadness that after all that we had been through we might not even  make it and that this would be the end.

When we reached Britain it was like we had come alive again.  We were so happy. Everyone was taken to different cities. We told our families that we had made it. I was taken to Coventry, near Birmingham. I was there for 4 months.

Everyday, I would go running – I needed to get fit! People would be really nice at the park. I became friends with two older people – one was 100 and another was 85. We took a selfie together. I would talk to them everyday, and our friendship made me really happy. I would do push-ups and pullups. I also started learning English at home.

In my 30 years of life – it hasn’t been great. But here I felt that for the first time I could live out my dreams.

11 days ago, immigration enforcement came in the early morning to the place I was staying. My dream became a nightmare.

It has been really hard. I feel so depressed. I have started hating food, hating life. My friends and I are finding it really hard. I have felt suicidal and that it is not worth it to be sent back. After  having tried so hard for this. I have lost so much money and time. I can’t imagine that I will be able to continue if I’m sent back to Spain after all this.  My friends and  family friends are all here. 

I have a ticket for the 27th August but we are hoping to challenge it with our solicitors.

We came here and we just want the chance to live and find peace. And we want to be given the chance to flourish in society. I have hope that I will be able to get out and I will be treated with justice. I want to be active and contribute to society here.

Thank you to everyone who is helping us and continues to help us. God bless them.

Brook House Protest: They told me “you have to go back where you came from”. In that moment I was broken down inside

This is my life story. Why I came out from Yemen when the civil war started.

I was leading a normal life. I was living in Yemen in the town called Sanaa. I was studying and working when the civil war started. I tried to stay there even though the civil war started. There was fighting and bombing and the Houthi fighters and the army fighters were there, and it was a hard time but still I tried to stay. Then I couldn’t stay there; me and my family moved away from Sanaa.

I went to a small town with my family. But the university was in Sanaa, not where I went. When I went to the small town the Houthi army was there. I managed to escape but they took my brother. I tried to hide then they got me and took me, and I was one month in jail because they seized the small town.

I was one month in jail, the Houthi army put me in jail for one month. They removed me because my brother got injured when they were bombarding. They let me out so I could see my brother. My brother was in a very bad condition; his legs were broken and everything. I took my brother out of the hospital and we went to the small town where my mother was and after 3 days we left. I went to another town and I got a passport and I left Yemen.

And then I went to Mauritania and from Mauritania I made my way to Europe. We kept walking. Walking with the trafficker and it’s all desert, we took cars and he blackmailed us. Then the trafficker met with another guy and the other guy took over.

This guy made us walk through the mountains. Then he showed us that he had a knife and guns and he asked us for money and mobiles. We gave him everything. Then we walked through the desert and I asked them where we are. They said it’s between Algeria and Niger. And then another trafficker took over and he put us in a truck, a big car where you put animals in. And then they took us to another place and another trafficker took over and we went to a place. During the time we were walking, we were abused, they were like hitting us and treating us badly.

We ended up in Morocco. And then another trafficker took over. And this trafficker just reassured us and said “I’m going to make you pass to Europe”. He took all the money but he wasn’t honest; he didn’t let us pass to Europe. We stopped there in Morocco. Approximately we stayed there for 2 weeks.

And then another trafficker came and one of the people said “don’t worry, we’ll help you leave”. They took us to Spain. When we reached Spain they asked us for money, and we said we don’t have money, they said “tell your parents to send you money”, but our parents are not working, we don’t have any connections.

When we said we don’t have money to give you they said “no problem, you can work with us now”. In this moment I thought: I need to run away. Because they are really bad people, they want us to work for them. They threatened to kill us, that’s why I realised I had to run away. 

I went to another town and I stayed homeless out on the road. I was searching for any refugee camp to help me and support me, just in terms of food and to continue living. I lived in that period on the road. It was really cold and I didn’t have my charger to charge my phone to connect with my people. It was a really tough time for me.

And then I met two guys, one from Yemen and one from Syria. They said to me “let’s go to somewhere where there is no war, where there is justice”. And so we went to some area but I don’t know the name of it. And then we decided to go to Britain. A trafficker said “I will take you to England”.

And then they took us to the sea and they said “you have to go”. I said “no, I’m scared, I don’t want to go across the sea”. There was a lot of people there from Iran and Kurdistan. He pointed a gun at me and said, “you have to leave now”. The guys there reassured me, they said, “don’t worry it’s only one hour and then you will be there, you will be safe”. The sea was really bad. I was so scared. But when I saw from a distance that we were close to Britain I was relieved a little bit when I saw the coast guard.


When we got there the guy took us to Coventry, and I stayed there for 3-4 months. I tried to forget everything I went through. I was thinking about my family. I tried to contact them and to see how my brother is doing. Then, when I was sleeping they opened the door and the police came to see me. He was talking to me but I wasn’t able to understand because everything was in English. I was so scared when he found me there, when he opened the door and he saw me.

I’m not a murderer, I’m just a normal guy. I just ran away from what I have experienced in a bad moment. Why are they treating me like this? They told me “come with me”. They told me “you have to go back where you came from”. In that moment I was broken down inside, I was feeling so bad.

And then they put me in a detention centre. They took the phone, they took everything. They gave me another SIM. But I’m not allowed to go out. Where shall I go if I go out? To the street? What shall I do?

I would rather die here than go back to where I came from.

I just want this country to hear us, because I’ve been in lots of danger. When I escaped from the desert and the mountains, I put my life under risk and I don’t want to go back. That’s all I have.