Saturday, 19 November 2016

Deported to persecution: The Home Office’s Eritrean programme

By Philip Kleinfeld
Monday, 11 April 2016
It was roughly twelve months after 31-year-old Gebre Berhane (not his real name) escaped Eritrea that the letter came through from the Home Office. He’d already lost 13 years of his life to forced military service and faced the threat of a regime which he says kidnapped his father turning on him. Berhane was sure his request for asylum would be accepted and his nightmare would come to an end.
“The Eritrean government were looking for me because they believed I was contacting foreigners,” he says, explaining the case he put to the British authorities. “In my extra time I was supplying vegetables to a big company which made them suspicious. When we heard that they were looking for me, I fled. It’s been 15 years since my father was taken by the government. My mum said: ‘I don’t want to lose you too, go away from this country’.”

But Berhane’s story wasn’t good enough for the Home Office, at least not at the first time of asking. Last summer, after months waiting for an interview, his asylum claim was rejected. The days he’d spent trapped in a migrant jail in Libya, the hours rocking on a packed boat to Sicily, and the month hopping from truck to truck in Calais  – all in the hope of reaching England – appeared to have come to nothing. “Something came into my mind,” he says, recalling how he felt after reading the rejection. “If they are planning to take me back home I am planning to make suicide. Imagine you have come all the way and risked everything and they take you back to the Eritrean government – our enemy.” SOURCE

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