Rose and Mercy, two asylum seekers living in Glasgow with their children are facing deportation. They fled from Zimbabwe and Rwanda, where both had been raped while in custody. After arriving in the UK both women found they had been infected with HIV.
The Home Office has refused to recognise them as refugees and wants to remove them. If Rose and Mercy are deported back to Zimbabwe and Rwanda. They could be killed by the forces that caused them to flee or die from HIV, because there is no affordable treatment.
The women's statement says:
"We are women and children asylum-seekers from African countries who are HIV positive. We have suffered untold persecution, torture and forced to flee our countries in search of safety. We have been forced to leave our way of life and our loved ones killed, displaced or left behind. We have an enormous responsibility to look after ourselves and our children in a foreign country in addition to coping with our HIV status.
"Undergoing the asylum process is in many ways extremely stressful. Discovering we are HIV positive has been very traumatising in addition to what we have suffered back home. When the Home Office decides to refuse our applications for asylum makes matters worse. There is effectively, no HIV treatment in Africa, and thousands of HIV positive people are dying every day as a result. All asylum-seekers are entitled to free NHS service in this country, which has enabled us to access HIV treatment. This has given us hope of a longer and productive life which would not have been possible in Africa.
"The Home Office maintains that there is HIV treatment in Africa but seem to ignore the fact that it's not financially available to the vast majority of people. The Home Office is sending us back home to die.
"How would you feel knowing that you are being taken to a certain death when something could be done to save your life but the people with the authority to do so are not willing and do not care?"
Or rather care in the abstract. For didn't Chancellor Gordon Brown recently criticise the multinational drug companies manipulation of prices for drugs which can treat HIV?
Campaign leaflet and petition from: www.ncadc.org.uk
Messages of support to:
"My Name is Mercy" Campaign, c/o Body Positive Strathclyde, 3 Park Quadrant, Glasgow, G3 6BS
The Government has been appealing against the High Court ruling that the law forcing asylum-seekers who failed to claim in a "reasonable time" into destitution was contrary to human rights law. The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC, told the Appeal Court that, unlike torture or persecution, mere destitution was not a breach of human rights. The judgement will not be known for some weeks.