Michael* completed his university degree in economics before taking charge of a flourishing family business. When the conflict began, Michael and his family fled to their farm in Minova. Many civilians including Michael’s father and his son were killed in the fighting. A month later Michael was falsely arrested and jailed for four months without trial.
“I was beaten constantly and violently throughout the day and night. Rebel guards even urinated on me after beating me. I was interviewed several times about my family and my link with the Mai-Mai militia. I was accused of funding the militia.”
Michael had never had any contact with the Mai-Mai militia and he had never been a political activist even as a student. As a result of the beatings Michael became very ill. He lost a testicle due to severe infection from an injury inflicted by the rebels.
A nurse helped him escape, by saying that he needed an operation. A priest then helped him get to Uganda. From Uganda he fled to the UK, where he claimed asylum in October 2003.
Michael’s asylum claim was refused in August 2004 and since then he has been destitute. Michael says he is surviving because of the generosity of people. He was once unable to get food for three days, and decided to walk into a supermarket. In desperation he spoke to the shop manager about his problem. The shop manager gave him some unsold fruit and bread.
He was attacked by some homeless people in a coach station. Michael has received treatment for severe depression. He has had thoughts about killing himself. He is shocked at the reception he has received in the UK.
“The human right should be the first thinking for English people. I am really suffering.”
Michael came to the British Red Cross destitution clinic in Birmingham. We assist him with food vouchers, clothing vouchers, and travel expenses to attend medical appointments in London.
Part of a series of posts on the topic of destitution for Refugee Week.
* Names have been changed to protect peoples’ identities.