Jacob, 34, from Somalia living in the UK

“I could see black smoke all over the place, I could see soldiers and artillery.”

After ten months of detention, Jacob agreed to be deported to Somalia, despite the position of the European Court of Human Rights at the time that the UK should not deport Somalis.  On arrival he was robbed and kidnapped, before being sent back to the UK.

Destitute on the streets
I did claim asylum in 1999.  I used to get an address, every six months they used to stop your income, say your decision has been determined   You are on the street.  Sometimes six months with no place, no income, nothing.  People from church, you’re allowed to stay couple nights.

Deported to a war zone
They give me removal directions to Mogadishu, in the middle of the war-zone.  I don’t know no-one one, it’s a country I left when I was young.  I was in Colnbrook[1] for 10 months at that time.  I didn’t want to go back to Colnbrook again, take your chance.

The escorts abandoned me in Nairobi.[2]  I asked if they will take me safely to Mogadishu.  They said yeah.  Then when they got to Nairobi they changed their mind, they said we’ll get kidnapped or shot.  But what about me?

We arrived in Nairobi early morning.  They showed me a small airplane, they said you‘re getting in that airplane.

Robbed and kidnapped
Before it landed I could see black smoke all over the place.  I could see soldiers, I could hear artillery, the sound of weapons.  As soon as I’ve got off, two men approached me and asked me to open my luggage.  When I opened it, they took it .  I got robbed in the airport.

The UN African Union soldiers saw me confused, looking around, two men walking off with my belongings.  They said you can’t survive here, go back where you’re from.  Go to Nairobi and explain to the High Commission.[3]

The airplane was not going back to Nairobi.  I took the airplane to Berbera.[4]  When I arrived in Berbera, another man approached me, they told me to get in the bus.  After fifteen minutes, some other car followed them and they started speeding.  They tied my head, they covered it with something like a bed-sheet so I couldn’t see nothing, then they pushed my head to the floor.

The other car stopped them, got them out of the bus.  The people who rescued me weren’t wearing uniform, I think they were undercover police without uniform.  I arrived in some place, don’t know if it was a police station.  They questioned me, “What are you doing in Berbera”?  They told me “We’re going to put you back in the airplane.  Unless you’re from [Somaliland] you have to go back to Mogadishu.”

I went back to the airplane, and I arrived in Nairobi.  The next day, the UK High Commissioner called me, he told me “I bought you ticket to go back to London.” He told me “They shouldn’t send you back to Mogadishu because it’s a war zone.  As soon as you go to London, contact your solicitor.”  I said thank you.

When I arrived in Heathrow, after all I’ve been through, they put me in Colnbrook.  After two months, they gave me another flight date again.  I couldn’t believe it.  I sent it to European Court of Human Rights.  They faxed me back in two hours, they gave me a Rule 39.[5]

Back in detention
I haven’t eaten in four weeks.  I’ve got sleeping disorder, I don’t sleep well no more.

Home Office just send me the 28 days progress report, it’s always the same.  The way I see it, I’ve been forgotten here in detention.  If there’s human rights, they wouldn’t keep me 18 months for no reason.  Someone understands.  I need explanation why I’ve been kept for 18 months.

20 years in the UK
Still undocumented and unreturnable because of risk of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment



[1] A detention centre near Heathrow Airport, London.

[2] Return to Somalia goes through Nairobi, Kenia. From there the migrant is supposed to travel further to Mogadishu Somalia.

[3] The equivalent of an embassy.

[4] Capital of the de facto independent state of Somaliland.

[5] A letter from the European Court of Human Rights requesting the UK to cancel the removal