What happened after Rashid’s deportation to Afghanistan?
[Assumpcio Oyonate Cladellas, Stop Deportations blog, 9th September 2012]
This post is written by a detention centre visitor. It voices their concern for people who are sent back to Afghanistan by the UK Border Agency.
In February 2010, I visited someone called Rashid at Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre, beside Gatwick Airport. Rashid was an asylum-seeker from Kabul, Afghanistan. He had now reached the end of his legal case and was going to be sent back the following week.
Rashid told me how he had reached the UK and then gone to Denmark. Once in Denmark he was put in a detention centre and sent back to the UK. However the UK would not give him legal status to stay here.
Rashid was extremely scared of being sent back to Afghanistan because his family there was dead. Two of them had been blown up. He did not know what kind of life he could have back in Kabul, or if he had any future there at all. But Rashid was still sent back.
We spoke to each other every fortnight by phone for a while. He told me openly about bombings in Kabul and how people were being killed. He was scared of losing his own life. He had no money to eat. He could not get a job. He could not even get a girlfriend because no family would accept him without money.
For someone living in the West, it was strange to be in touch with someone who was just on the other end of the phone, but spoke from a country where there was a war. Rashid kept asking me if there was another country in Europe where he could apply for asylum. In Kabul, he was terrified by the risk of starvation, being killed by the Taliban or the Western armed forces.
A friend of mine, a psychotherapist, who had been to Iraq had described how many refugees sent back to Iraq were killing themselves. Then Rashid told me he was thinking of committing suicide in Afghanistan.
Rashid, as a Muslim, knew the religious taboos around suicide. But it was clear he was reaching the end of his struggle. He stopped answering his phone three or four months after he was sent back to Afghanistan. Up until now, I am still wondering what happened to this friend of mine. Was he killed in Afghanistan? Did he kill himself? Did he manage to come back to Europe?
The fact he has not called me for more than two and a half years makes me think that Rashid is dead. But I will probably never be able to know for certain.
The UK government will also never know, because they do not monitor what happens to the people they deport to so called ‘safe’ countries. NGO’s and charities also do very little research into this issue. So how British politicians claim it is safe to send people back to Afghanistan? It was not safe for this man Rashid. Left alone to face the consequences, perhaps he took his own life.