Updated: Thursday, 6th August 2020 @ 6:47am

'The UK Border Agency can rot in hell': Manchester refugees reveal life in immigration limbo

'The UK Border Agency can rot in hell': Manchester refugees reveal life in immigration limbo

By Helen Le Caplain

“My message to the UK Border Agency would be to go rot in hell.

“I’ve seen myself rotting in society – I don’t want to be an aggressive person or seek revenge but the system has done that to me, they have made me this way.

“I’ve seen myself chained down to the ground not being able to move while everyone round me is moving around at a very fast pace – I will probably never be able to catch up with them again."

This was the weary response one young Manchester asylum seeker Yousef* who is desperate to remain in the UK gave to refugee and asylum organisation RAPAR earlier this year.

He fled his home country fearing for his life and has endured an agonising five-year to see if his asylum application has been approved.

He has been existing in a state of limbo unable to settle down, hold down a job or apply to study and never knowing what the future will hold.

Yousef said: “The fact that I could have been much more successful at this stage and I’m not is because of the baggage that the UK Border Agency has set for my life.

“If these barriers are removed I can start progressing and move forward in life but I will never achieve the potential because more than five years has been wasted.

“I think that’s solely the UK Border Agency’s and British Immigration system’s fault.

Sadly Yousef is not alone. He is one of 15,438 people who are still waiting on a decision from applications received since April 2006.

Farid Vahidi, 23, is originally from Iran and has been living in Manchester and waiting on a decision for more than 63 months.

His family applied for UK asylum in 2007 after his father was linked to leaking details on Iran's nuclear programme.

He fled the country after one of his friends, who had published information on the nuclear industry, was killed.

Farid said: “Like my family, I fled Iran and claimed asylum to save my life, and I can’t go back there. But after more than five years stuck in limbo, I am desperate to start a real life again.”

The family’s application was initially refused and in June 2010 they were told they would be deported.

However his mother, father and brother were eventually granted asylum in April 2012 after a long-fought campaign against the UKBA.

But because Farid was 18 when he arrived in the UK he was not included as part of their asylum claim, and he is still waiting for the authorities to decide his fate.

RAPAR are campaigning with Farid to help keep him safe in the UK with his family and to end the months of uncertainty.

Although Farid is unable to put down permanent roots he is now working alongside funding volunteer Yasmine Nahlawi to help revive Young RAPAR.

Yasmine explained that the ultimate aim of the group is pursing equal access to university education for young asylum seekers.

She said:  “We would like to secure equal access to post-secondary education for young people seeking asylum and refugees, including an equal opportunity for them to obtain financial loans to fund their education.

“Additionally this group is meant to establish a collective sense of empowerment for its young members, and to make them the principal advocates of their cause and allow them to form their own support and advocacy system.”

The group was originally established in 2009 but was revived earlier this year, and now works in collaboration with Student Action for Refugees (STAR) to pursue the same cause, but with a new generation of young people.

Yasmine added: “Young RAPAR represented an opportunity for these young people to work collectively towards achieving this goal, but also to form a support group in which they could pursue other interests such as photography and creative writing.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it. Each case is considered on an individual basis.

"We are committed to concluding all cases as quickly as possible, but they are often complex and require full and thorough consideration.”

For more information about Young RAPAR click here.

*Name changed to protect identity

Image courtesy of Gino Mempin via Flickr with thanks.

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