Five asylum seekers whose claims have failed have gone on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in protest against their threatened deportation to South Africa.
The five women allege that they are Zimbabwean but that despite this the Home Office is trying to deport them to South Africa in an attempt to “side step” the current suspension of removals to Zimbabwe.
The women say that they fled to South Africa to escape political persecution and homophobia but that once there they suffered further rape, imprisonment and deportation back to Zimbabwe. They used false South African passports to get to the UK and allege that they have provided documents confirming their nationality as Zimbabwean to the government.
A Home Office spokesperson rejected the allegation and said the government was confident that it had robust procedures in place to ensure that people were returned to the correct country.
The hunger strikers are demanding that the Home Office recognises them as Zimbabweans and releases them from detention.
Last month the asylum and immigration tribunal found that the government was exposing asylum seekers to risk of ill-treatment by returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.