LONDON: An Iraqi Kurd asylum seeker who had a last-minute legal reprieve from his scheduled deportation to Rwanda from Britain on Tuesday has said that he never would have traveled to the UK if he had known about the scheme.
The man, who spoke to the BBC and was identified as “KN,” was one of seven asylum seekers taken off the flight, which was chartered by the government but canceled after legal challenges to each of the planned deportations.
KN told the BBC that he had been in hiding and did not know about the deportation scheme.
He added that he had fought alongside the British in the war in Iraq and complained that he had been mistreated by Home Office staff. The Home Office said its personnel were trained in the appropriate use of force.
KN’s planned deportation to Rwanda was part of a deal struck by the British government, first announced in April, that would see asylum seekers who cross the English Channel being sent to the East African nation while their claims are processed.
The government said that the plan will deter dangerous crossings and discourage people from attempting to reach Britain in small boats.
But KN told the BBC that he had “absolutely no idea” about the scheme, adding: “If I had known about this whole plan, I would have never decided to come to the UK.”
He continued: “The thing is that during the past six months, because I was in hiding, I was completely disconnected from the news and the outside world — so I had no idea what was going on. I was just desperately trying to get ... out for my safety.”
He said that he had informed British officials that he had been part of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces who helped to facilitate British military actions in Iraq in 2004.
Having presented documentary evidence to officials, he said, “I really needed this favor to be returned.”