Desperate refugee says ‘I’d rather kill myself’ than board a plane to Rwanda

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The Syrian has already been trafficked and tortured on his way to the UK but now faces deportation to Rwanda, where Rwandan politicians have criticized the government’s human rights record

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and Kigali Mayor Rubingisa Pudence visit the refugee square in Kigali, Rwanda
Priti Patel and Mayor of Kigali Rubingisa Pudence visit the refugee site in Rwanda

A refugee who is due to be deported to Rwanda on the Interior Ministry’s first flight says he would rather commit suicide than leave.

The Syrian, who says he was smuggled, sold and tortured before reaching the UK, said: “I would rather kill myself than get on that plane.”

The man, who used the false name Amar following threats, is being held in a British detention center and is due to fly to the African country on Tuesday.

He said: “When I read the letter about Rwanda, I felt anxious and depressed. I feel under constant pressure now. I’d rather kill myself than be sent to that black hole.

“All I’ve asked for is a chance at life. That’s all. A chance to have a life.”







Home Secretary Priti Patel has been widely criticized for her inhuman plan to deport refugees
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AFP via Getty Images)

Amar has family in the UK and was living in Damascus in 2011 when the Syrian Civil War began.

He fled his homeland to avoid military service.

He said: “When you’re 18, you have to do military service for the regime in Syria, which means killing your own people. I could not do it.

“I didn’t go the day I was supposed to join. I kept getting letters asking me to join, but I ignored them.

“They came looking for me, so I paid a smuggler to help me get to Libya.”







A room at Hotel Desir Resort in Kigali, Rwanda
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AFP via Getty Images)

In the North African country, Amar says he was sold to a local militia before being tortured.

He was later released after his parents paid bribes to his kidnappers.

Amar spent five days crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a boat to Italy but was caught and arrested en route to Britain.

He said: “Everything I knew about Rwanda [when I got the Home Office letter] it was a country in the middle of Africa and famous for the genocide in the 90s. I feel that I will disappear there.”

Amar said he would like Home Office officials – including Home Secretary Priti Patel – to put themselves in his shoes and ask, “Is that human?”







The Prince of Wales is said to be “more than disappointed” by the government’s policy of sending migrants to Rwanda
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“You should think about what we’ve been through and ask yourself if Rwanda is the right place to send people like us,” he said.

Ali, who originally comes from Iran, is also to be deported to Rwanda on the first plane.

He has been in a detention center next to Heathrow Airport since arriving in the UK on May 31.

He paid smugglers €8,000 to take him to the UK after he said he was in danger of being killed by government officials for taking part in peaceful protests.







A view of the facilities of Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of the capital city of Kigali, Rwanda
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He has made a long journey through Turkey, Greece and France – including treacherous boat trips across the Mediterranean and the English Channel – to reunite with his Iranian Kurdish wife, who lives just outside Leeds.

They married in 2019, but she fled her homeland after family members threatened her life. Ali said: “Six days ago they gave me a letter saying I was being transferred to Rwanda.

“I feel so stressed and scared and mentally very bad. Sometimes I feel suicidal.

“I’m being treated like a criminal, not a fugitive. Every evening at 9:00 p.m. they lock the doors of our rooms and don’t open them again until 8:00 a.m.

“The situation here is very bad. Every day two or three people try to take their own lives.







Out of sheer desperation, migrants take highly dangerous routes
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Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)

“My wife cannot eat or sleep because she is so worried about me. Her mental state is very bad. She has lost a lot of weight because of the stress and anxiety.

“I don’t know why Priti Patel discriminates against Iranians when Ukrainians are allowed in. Are only Ukrainians human? Priti Patel’s politics are very stupid.”

Clare Moseley of Care4Calais said: “Hearing the stories of people being sent to Rwanda is enough to give you nightmares.

“They fled wars, were tortured and abused and people tried to kill them.

“It is deeply shocking that the UK could subject these victims to further trauma and the callousness of deporting victims of torture is particularly breathtaking. The Rwanda plan is brutal.

“Given the more humane options available, is that really what we want to do as a compassionate country?”

Prominent Rwandan politician Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza also hit out at the Interior Ministry’s policy, saying that refugees deported to Rwanda would face serious threats.







Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, President of the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda (FDU-Inkingi).
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AFP via Getty Images)







Rwandan Hutu refugees are fleeing camps in northern Burundi towards the Tanzanian border
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She said: “The government of Rwanda is known to be a government that does not respect human rights.

“It is outrageous that a democratic country like the UK has failed in its responsibilities and decided to pass the burden on to a developing and non-democratic country like Rwanda.”

Ms Umuhoza, leader of Rwanda’s Development and Freedom for All party, ran in the 2010 presidential elections and was later jailed for alleged politically motivated crimes, which she denied.

She said: “The claim that Rwanda offers economic opportunities to migrants is a lie.

“Youth unemployment persists, human capital development in Rwanda is very low, the country’s private sector remains small and poverty persists.”

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Jean-Claude Ntezimana of Rwanda’s Green Democratic Party said there was already “a lot of conflict and competition for natural resources” within existing populations.

And human rights activist John William Ntwari said: “The Rwandan government entered into this deal for two reasons.

“You are approaching the British government, meaning Kagame [Rwanda’s President] no longer be held accountable for its human rights abuses. The money and rewards involved are other factors.

“What the British government should be doing is helping Rwandans achieve democracy, rather than sending people running from dictators in their countries to Rwanda.”

Care4Calais raises money for its work to support people at risk of being sent to Rwanda. You can donate here

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