Over the past eight years the UK removed an average of 373 Ugandans per year, of which 47% (174) were rejected asylum seekers. With the UK government’s increasing emphasis on rapid removals, increased expenditure in the immigration sector, increased use of detention, reduced time for appeals and harsher border controls, it does not look like this number will decrease any time soon. Eight years ago there were two asylum seekers to every deportee, yet today it is just the opposite.
But what does this mean for the people who actually get removed? What happens to them when they arrive back in their country of origin? There is generally a lack of information about what happens once people who have been removed land in their country of origin; some disappear or go underground, others seek to leave the country again. As a result it is difficult to evidence the cost to deportees from a legal and psychosocial perspective.
Over the past three years Refugee Law Project, a non-profit, national-level community outreach project of the School of Law, Makerere University, in partnership with City University in London has been conducting research into the removal of people to and from Uganda. Given Uganda’s historical links with the United Kingdom, and the resultant tendency of Ugandans to seek asylum there, we are particularly interested in those being removed from the UK to Uganda. Practically this involves collecting people who have been removed from Entebbe International Airport, and where necessary providing them with follow up legal and psychosocial support.
We are building an overall picture of the sorts of experiences deportees go through in the UK during the removal process and what happens to them once they arrive back in Uganda. We hope that this will allow us, in collaboration with anti-deportation groups in the UK, to strengthen the debate about the costs of deportation.