Women with children in UK face deportation to Nigeria and Ghana | home office
Mothers and grandmothers, some of whom have lived in the UK for decades, are among those facing deportation to Nigeria and Ghana on a controversial Home Office charter flight on Wednesday.
Women the Guardian spoke to estimate that at least 10 of them are at risk of deportation. It is unusual to see so many women on a deportation flight to West African countries.
Some suffer from serious mental health problems and take antipsychotic medication.
Human rights activists say there are a range of security concerns surrounding the removal of those who are to be on the flight, including religious persecution, modern slavery, right to family life and persecution based on sexual orientation.
Charities have expressed concerns about delays with so-called Rule 35 reports, where such issues can be explored in detention centres.
A 40-year-old British mother of three has already been severed under the Mental Health Act. She fled Nigeria after being persecuted for being a Christian in a predominantly Muslim region and traveled to the UK in 2009 on a fake passport. She was pregnant at the time, was imprisoned for traveling on the fake passport, and gave birth in prison.
When she became seriously mentally ill, her children were taken away. The Interior Ministry then deported her because her children no longer lived with her. She ended up sleeping on the street behind a church.
Speaking to the Guardian from Colnbrook Detention Center near Heathrow, she said: ‘How can the Home Office separate me from my children. I’m not going to let it happen. If they force me to go, I will die. I’m going to kill me. I fled Nigeria to save my life.
Adeniyi Raji, 48, is a gay man at risk of being deported to Nigeria for the second time. He was interviewed by the Guardian in 2017 when he was first sent off.
“I am in the UK because I need protection. If I am sent back to Nigeria they will kill me,” he said.
He shared screenshots of death threats he had received from people in Nigeria. One said, “So after all that’s been done to you before, you’re still a practicing homosexual. Wait to see you here, it will be the end of you.
Government guidelines released in February 2022 state that LGBTI people are persecuted in Nigeria, gay men involved in same-sex acts face up to 14 years in prison, while in northern states where Sharia prevails, the penalty is death.
Maria Brul, of the Detention Action charity, said: ‘This mass charter flight to Ghana and Nigeria is to forcibly deport many British women with children, some of whom have lived here for over 25 years.
Emma Ginn, director of the charity Medical Justice, said: ‘We are concerned that our clients with serious mental health issues will be deported without having had a Rule 35 report exploring history of torture, trafficking, risk suicide and medical conditions. They’re waiting in line to get an appointment for one of these care unit reports. There continue to be serious flaws in the detention protection systems.
The Home Office has been approached for comment.