The mental distress of detained asylum seekers


pace-the-prison-celloriginally published: 3rd April 2009

People denied asylum in the UK but unable to return to their country of origin are being detained in immigration centres, in some cases indefinitely. Louise Hunt reports

Ahmed Abu Bakar Hassan, 24, came to the UK in 2004 after fleeing persecution in Darfur, Sudan, where he was a political activist. His application for asylum was rejected. When he later tried to claim asylum in a false name he was sent to prison for four months. But when his sentence ended, rather than being released or deported, he was sent to Colnbrook immigration removal centre and then transferred to Oakington Immigration Removal Centre, near Cambridge, in October 2006.

“My mood is bad. I feel I have no life,” he says through a translator. “Prison was better than detention. I am in a room with 12 people. Life is hell here. I am paying the price for nothing.”

Hassan wants to return to Sudan, where he risks being killed, but the Sudanese Embassy has refused to give him travel documents and he says the Home Office has not offered any assistance. “I asked to be deported but there was no answer from the Home Office,” he says. “For two years I have been writing that I need to be deported or released, but no answer. I feel I am forgotten. No officials, no lawyers, nobody can do anything.”

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