Adam* was a university student in Sudan. The government arrested him when problems broke out in Darfur. He was accused of inciting fellow students. Adam was detained on two separate occasions and was tortured during his detention; he was kicked and beaten with iron poles, locked in a small room where burning material was thrown in to choke him, and tied upside-down if he did not give the answers his torturers wanted. When Adam was released, he was told to regularly report and sign in with the authorities, but he decided to flee the country.
Adam paid an agent to take him somewhere safe but he did not know where he was going. Adam claimed asylum in the UK in January 2008 and was refused asylum a year later in February 2009.
He now spends his time trying to search for food by visiting different people he knows. He has no income at all and has no regular source of food or shelter: “I eat once a day if friends can spare some food.”
He says he really wants to be able to support himself and not rely on handouts from other people.
“I feel really bad not having a job. I want to be independent and not depend on others’ kindness for food. I want to be able to support my family as well.”
Adam tries to occupy himself by going to language classes and reading at the library. He says that life in the UK is now similar to life in Sudan because in both places he was not able to support himself; in the UK he is not allowed to work and in Sudan he could not live openly because the authorities were looking for him. The situation has caused him severe depression.
The British Red Cross has been able to support Adam in a limited capacity. We are able to provide £10 food vouchers per week, and clothes and toiletries from our clothing project. Adam has been given advice on where he can access a homelessness project and receive hot food on a daily basis.
Part of a series of posts on the topic of destitution for Refugee Week.
* Names have been changed to protect peoples’ identities.