Sophia says her 13-year-old son, who suffers from Sickle-cell disease, a serious inherited blood disorder, will suffer
A mother of three whose youngest son suffers from a serious blood disorder, is to be forcibly deported to Jamaica, despite having lived in the UK for more than 25 years.
Sophia, who asked to be identified by her first name only, is being held at the notorious Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre ahead of a secretive charter flight, which is expected to take around 100 people to the Caribbean country.
The 47-year-old’s youngest son, who is 13, has Sickle-cell disease. His sister, Ruth, told The Independent that he had been taken to hospital with severe pain three times, after he witnessed his mother taken away by police in October.
Sophia, whose indefinite leave to remain in the UK was revoked after she committed a non-violent crime, has been told by the Home Office that she can either take her children to live with her in Jamaica, or communicate with them via Skype.
But she believes her youngest son would be unable to access the medication and treatment he needs in Jamaica, where she has no remaining family and fears she would be homeless and destitute.
Sophia said that while she could not bear the thought of being separated from her children, she is “really, really scared” of being beaten by male guards if she refuses to board the plane.
Jamaicans deported from the UK on March 8
Like Sophia, many of those due to board the highly controversial charter flight have lived in the UK for decades. Some arrived as small children and say they do not remember the country they are being sent back to.
Activist groups allege people who are resisting deportation have been brutally beaten by immigration officers dressed in riot gear.
The Unity Centre, which helps asylum seekers, say detainees at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre told them staff broke a man’s left arm as he tried to escape, pepper spraying him and leaving him hanging from the side of a building, clinging to mesh, after he climbed out of a window to get away from them.
The Home Office dispute this version of events.
A spokesman said: “A minor incident at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre involving one individual occurred overnight. There were no reported injuries and all other detainees were secure throughout.”
Ruth, 24, was heavily pregnant when her mother was detained. She took in her youngest brother, but she said the stress of dealing with his illness, in addition to worrying about her mother, caused her to go into labour at seven-and-a-half-months pregnant and give birth to her third child prematurely.
She is now struggling to cope with her brother’s health needs as his condition has deteriorated, in addition to caring for her young children.
“For 13 years he never had a crisis,” Ruth told The Independent. “In October when immigration sent the police to get my mum, that next morning I had to rush him to hospital. He had his first crisis”
Doctors agreed stress had exacerbated his health problems, she added.
“He’s been asking when his mum is coming home,” she said, adding that he was forced to move to a different city to live with her and had not settled into his new school yet.
He was getting sick and coming home early nearly every day, she said.
Even when his condition is not flaring up, she added that caring for him can be difficult.
“He has to go to hospital appointments every month. He has to take medication everyday,” she said. “Every single day I have to remind him, in addition to having my own three kids as well. It’s hard. And he has a mum. A mum who is fit and strong and could do all that for him. And they’re trying to send her away. It just doesn’t make any sense.”