Asylum seekers share their fear on TikTok livestreams as confusion over Rwanda Plan grows

Credit: ITV News

ITV News understands asylum seekers are leaving their Home Office accommodation as confusion and fear over the Rwanda scheme spreads amongst the refugee community on social media.

Less than 12 hours after the Rwanda Bill was passed, a group of young asylum seekers claim people have begun fleeing their accommodation as they would rather be homeless than sent to Rwanda - adding they are "losing their hope" of remaining in the UK.

The government’s controversial Rwanda Bill is set to become law after passing its final stage in the Lords on Monday night, giving the government the right to deport some asylum seekers to the east African country.

The government claim to have a list of people on standby to be sent to Rwanda, but much remains unclear about which asylum seekers will be first to leave if they are not successful during an appeals process.

On Tuesday morning, ITV News witnessed multiple TikTok livestreams containing hundreds of asylum seekers, purportedly spread across the UK, all detailing their confusion due to a lack of direct communication from the government, as some revealed they'd take to the streets or even take their own lives before being sent to Rwanda.

One asylum seeker, 23, in London said: "On TikTok I was seeing people talking in my language, they were all saying they are afraid of this thing...

"They will not hand themselves in easily, they won't go, even if this thing goes through."

TikTok livestreams on social media appeared to show dozens of terrified asylum seekers sharing their experiences

"They don't know what to do, they don't know what to decide, the only solution they have is leaving their accommodation... they said they'd rather go homeless or [be] sleeping outside in other places in the UK... to hide ourselves rather than going to Rwanda."

The confusion about the government's scheme was rife amongst many asylum seekers, with hundreds of comments on the livestreams sharing queries about their individual cases, and what happens next for them.

"We don't know where they are going when people are talking on social media about this thing... they're all talking about whether it's going to work or not, or looking for another solution, people are advising them to go to other places, or go out of their hotels.

"I was seeing on social media a lot of people saying they were not in their accommodation because of this thing, they are not going to their hotels, because they don't want to be on that flight.

"Everybody's feeling stressed, everybody's having a lot of medical issues."

What appears to be echoing across these livestreams is total confusion about what the Rwanda plan actually is, and the asylum seekers we spoke to us insist they have had very little direct communication with officials and have so far been unable to get in contact with their lawyers.

We were told asylum seekers on social media "don't have any details, they don't have any knowledge about these things, so they're saying we'd rather go homeless or we'd rather do something, we'd rather kill ourselves in this country rather than going to Rwanda.

"At least you're safe in [the UK], even if you're homeless or you don't have accommodation, you're free...I'm losing my hope, I came across to have a normal life, to have freedom, to have democracy."

Like many asylum seekers, the trauma of what they have already experienced in the country they have fled from can be great, not least before what they witness during their journey to somewhere they deem as being able to provide a safer life.

That trauma appears to have been amplified, as we heard multiple claims that asylum seekers would rather take their own lives than risk being sent to Africa.

Another asylum seeker, 18, said; "Whatever happens I'm not going to go to Rwanda, [if that happens] I'm going to end my life here."

He arrived last year from Eritrea, and travelled through Libya into Europe before he eventually travelled to the UK, and thinks now that asylum seekers are faced with the prospect of deportation, they will have to look for other options.

"They will go... if there is a place or a way to go, they will end up in the street or somewhere, rather than going there, to France or Belgium if there is a way, because we don't want to end up in Rwanda.

"It's better for us to sleep in the street in Belgium or in France... because nobody wants to go to Rwanda, Rwanda is not a safe country.

"Even if it is a safe country, it is close to Eritrea, so it is a big risk for us, in my opinion it's not a safe country for us."

He added; "Please be a voice for us, we don't want to end up in Rwanda. Please, help us, I don't know what to say."

The government claims: “The Act will prevent people from abusing the law by using false human rights claims to block removals. And it makes clear that the UK Parliament is sovereign, giving Government the power to reject interim blocking measures imposed by European courts."

But multiple human rights groups have condemned the scheme as a “breach of international law”, saying it poses “a significant threat to the rule of law”.

One asylum seeker we spoke to ITV News said: "We haven't slept since we heard [the news], we are afraid that something will happen to us."

The 29-year-old, who also fled Eritrea, added that ITV News were the first people to discuss the Rwanda scheme with him, and claims he has had very little communication with anyone in his own language about what the Rwanda scheme entails.

"We are feeling lonely, no one has been able to talk to us... when we came from our country to this place... we come to seek peace and have freedom."

If you've been effected by any references in this story, there are helplines available: