Timothy Kayigamba, an Eritrean asylum seeker explains his struggles after claiming asylum in the UK.
The culture of disbelief within the Home Office asylum system has left me feeling I have been ‘robbed’ of my dignity and denied the right to asylum. For the past 15 years since I arrived in the UK for safety, my life has been in limbo. Completely stark like an old vintage car parked in a garage. The contrast is the vintage car might get proper repairs, gain value and cost a lot of money. Where as for me its travelling towards the dead end. My whole life has been completely turned up side down. To recover, perhaps it requires ‘miracles’. I am Pharmacist by profession. But I am not allowed to work. Its so painful I cannot practice the trade I love so dearly. My confidence has been knocked to rock bottom. My skills have been put to worst instead of benefitting society.
I fled from my home country in Eritrea and sought asylum in the UK in 2003. On a Friday in December 2002, I was abducted and taken into a forest where I experienced physical abuse which I cannot put in print here. It was a horrible and painful experience which I could not expect any human being to go through such an ordeal. What happened on that day in 2002 is still fresh in my mind? A traumatic experience.
In my home country its physical torture but here in the UK I am facing mental torture because of the intolerable waiting. I had high hopes that the UK would offer me welcome and safety, but my hope is fading away. I have come across countless stories of pain from my brothers and sisters who have gone through the asylum system. You are literally slowly being ‘killed’ mentally. I have many unanswered questions wrestling in my mind. It pains seeing the door to justice slowly being closed right in front of your face. Being refused the right to asylum on very flimsy reasons. You feel powerless. In my case even my barrister gets frustrated by the whole asylum process. For me that feeling of rejection trigger lots of emotions. I have done what any ordinary person can do, volunteering with other organisations and getting deeply involved in the community in Swindon. But for how long? A child born in 2003, the year I applied for asylum is 17 years old now. It is a very long waiting period. I’m sure no British person would bear this.
Every day when I wake up, I feel a heavy weight on my shoulder. You suffer in silence. However, the only glimmer of hope for me comes from some of the charities and people who continue to support people like me. They stand in solidarity with people seeking sanctuary like myself to ensure we move from exclusion into belonging. And above all, my faith sustains me.