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.