Asylum seeker in Belfast says UK Government's Rwanda plan makes him feel 'like an animal'

Asylum seekers in Northern Ireland tell UTV News reporter Judith Hill the Rwanda plan has left them fearful.

A group of asylum seekers living in Belfast are calling on the UK Government to abandon its plans to send people who have suffered their plight to Rwanda.

Some described the plan as dehumanising - saying Boris Johnson's government policy left them feel like "animals" or "pieces of trash".

The group, who are being supported by PPR and Anaka Women's Collective, is made up of people who currently live in hotels as they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.

Muhammad, a 32-year-old man who fled Syria and paid smugglers to get to Belfast arrived in Northern Ireland two months ago.

He says the Government's policy makes him feel as if he is "an animal or a piece of trash".

Speaking to UTV News, he said: "The Government wants a solution for this problem - but we can't be victims."

Rajaa, from Syria, says news of the government's plan triggered the trauma of having to flee her home. Credit: UTV News

Syrian mother-of-four Rajaa says when she heard the news it triggered the trauma of having to flee her home and make the arduous journey to Northern Ireland.

Rajaa's name means "hope," but now - she has none, she told UTV News.

She said she and her daughters had been living in a small hotel room for six months, and the children have been unable to attend school.

“We are actually prisoners,” she told us.

But Rajaa felt grateful to have reached Northern Ireland- at least until she learned of the UK Government's plan.

She said: "We believe we are in a safe place now, we will be treated as human, and me and my daughters will settle down for the last after a long journey.

"Now we're facing this - the Government takes a decision to take us somewhere else, and I don't know what will happen."

The Prime Minister has insisted the aim is to end hazardous Channel crossings and eradicate people smuggling.

Boris Johnson has said people will be treated humanely, as the Tories face a barrage of criticism over the plan.

But Elfie Seymour, from the PPR lobby group, is calling for a change of heart.

"As hostile as the Home Office can be, and as much as they can close their doors, and close their minds to what's happening, we're going to fight back with more and more people resisting hostility, embracing new people in Belfast, acting in a hospitable way," she said.