Michael, 35, from Nigeria living in Hungary

“This situation is devil. I would go back, because it was better for me to go home.”

Michael, 35, fled from Nigeria for religious reasons. He is unreturnable as the government cannot identify him without documents, and the Nigerian authorities do not allow him to return. He has been detained for 11 months.

Three years of peace I think this place wasn’t my destination, but somehow I was stuck here with my girlfriend, we had two kids.

When I lived in Budapest, I had a befogadott [a kind of temporary residence permit in Hungary] for two years, so I was working. First I had it for one year, then it was prolonged, but after they stopped giving me visa, problems started, you know. I asked for asylum, but they detained me for a while.

After my release I was transported to a reception centre. The situation in this camp was terrible; there was so much bugs that you couldn’t see. They bit you, so you couldn’t sleep. Blood, blood, blood. The camp was too bad, so I had to run away from that place. You know, I wanted to stay with my girlfriend in Budapest. So I left the camp, and I didn’t return. The police started to look for me. They came to my place where I was living with my girlfriend, and they took me to the immigration office. From there they put me into a detention centre. That was the reason for putting me there.

Six months in hell Well, the previous detention centre was like a home, though we didn’t have freedom to go out. But in this one, it was the worst experience I’ve ever had. It was like hell, you know. Even in African countries you can’t see such treatment. The policemen and the security guards don’t have human sympathy. They said always that they should beat the inmates a little when they needed to behave. It was a terrible situation there.

We got this small, little soap may be for one month or two. It was absolutely nothing. Sometimes you entered the bathroom to bath and they stopped the hot water. There was a small place and maybe twenty minutes for all the people with only two or three taps, you know. Imagine how it was there. It’s like devil, believe me. I hope they could close that detention centre, I hope, because people are really suffering there.

After my release I lived in Budapest for five or six months. I wasn’t doing much anyway because I didn’t have permission to work. I helped some friends or did some casual work. I didn’t get a job, but I had to pay too much for the rent. It was just stress. Maybe a little work, you know, but it wasn’t enough to sustain my stay in Budapest. So I decided to come here, and live in here.

Unreturnability, uncertainty I am not a lazy person, you know, I always liked to do things. Unfortunately, here I don’t have the opportunity to do anything. I was studying for this ECDL European Computer Driving License in Budapest before. But these people have to impose laws that prohibit coming back to the shelter after ten o’clock. I feel I’m trying to spring up, help myself, but they enact laws against it. You try to do something, but there is always something to bring you down, you know.

This situation is devil. I would go back, because it was better for me to go home. But I cannot.

Twelve years in Hungary Still undocumented and unreturnable for administrative reasons