Anti-racists protesting outside immigration reporting centre, Lunar House, in south London earlier this month (Picture: Richard Bayfield)

 
People trying to claim asylum in Britain are being snatched by the Home Office and locked in detention centres to be put on a flight to Rwanda.
 
Refugees go into ­immigration reporting ­centres and don’t come out. Or they are taken from their homes in the early hours of the morning. The Home Office handcuffs them and throws them in the back of a van.
 
According to charity Care4Calais, which along with other charities has set up legal helplines to assist those in detention, it is ­helping Afghans, Iranians and Kurds, Syrians, Eritreans, Egyptians, Sudanese, Turks, and Kuwaiti Bidoons.
 
The people detained have not had their asylum claims processed, and many would be granted refugee status. But the Tories want to make an example of them.
 
The Home Office removes their phones to limit contact with charities and lawyers. It also means they’re isolated from the outside world.
 
It gives them “brick” phones that need constantly topping up, cannot connect to the internet or WhatsApp, or access other languages—and doesn’t contain their contacts.
 
That forces refugees to ­memorise their lawyer’s numbers or have charities’ leaflets with helpline details.
 
One Syrian refugee who has previously suffered torture and abuse in Syria and Libya said “I would kill myself on arrival” to Rwanda.
 
“Everyone is so stressed in here,” he said from Colnbrook detention centre near Heathrow airport. “We can’t eat and we can’t sleep. 
 
“Being in detention is very triggering for me.”
 
He was locked up despite having an infection in his leg and hasn’t seen a doctor.
 
In detention refugees receive glossy promotional booklets titled, “I’m being relocated to Rwanda. What does it mean to me?” as if they’re being sent on holiday.
 
Around 120 people have contacted Care4Calais for help—both men and women. Charities are also using fax machines to desperately ­provide them with support.
 
Removing communication from detained migrants is a “standard” detention procedure. But for those who could legally challenge their ­deportation the aim is to limit any chance of this happening.
 
And some of those rounded up haven’t been given notice of removal to Rwanda.
 
The Tories’ racist laws mean anyone who arrived “illegally” after January 2022 could be detained and deported. Rwanda has said it will only take “thousands” of people seeking asylum.
 
The Home Office has created an arbitrary window and said anyone who arrived between this date and June 2023 would be among the first cohort. 
 
But anyone who came after January 2022 could be at risk—and meanwhile all new claims sit unprocessed because they’re deemed “illegal”. 
 
Outside the detention ­centres, fearful refugees are leaving their asylum accommodation and going into hiding, or not turning up to appointments.
 
The Home Office has lost contact with 3,557 of 5,700 in the first group it randomly identified for removal.
 
It means they can be cut off from support and thrown into serious risk of being exploited further by gangs and traffickers.
 
Rwanda legal support 
If you are an asylum seeker who came to Britain after 1 January 2022 and you are still waiting for a decision you might be at risk of being deported to Rwanda.
 
Not everyone can be sent there, and there are no flights yet. So it is important to get legal support now. 
 
Detention Action 0800 587 2096 
 
Care4Calais Rwanda 07519773268 
 
Care4Calais Detention 0800 009 6268 
 
Wilson Solicitors LLP 0208 808 7535 or email rwandareferrals@wilsonllp.co.uk 
 
Duncan Lewis Solicitors 033 3772 0409 
 
If immigration officials ask you to go to Rwanda “voluntarily” or in exchange for money, you can say no. Do not sign anything without legal advice.

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