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Last Updated: Thursday April 09 2009 07:07 GMT

I had to flee my home country

Sonali and Meltem

More and more people are leaving their home countries to seek asylum in the UK.

Many end up in detention centres until officials decide whether or not they can stay and that's exactly what happened to Press Packer Meltem...


"I left Turkey when I was six because I am Kurdish and my family were in danger.

Firstly, we went to Germany to try to escape but we were not allowed to stay there so we came to Britain to see if we could seek asylum.

I wasn't really scared when we were moving around, I was too young to really know what was going on.

It's only as I've got older that I've realised how scary it must have been for my family.

After arriving in Britain we had to wait until we knew whether we could stay or not. All the time we always felt scared because we didn't know if we would be put in a detention centre or allowed to stay.

Told to leave

Then one day seven years later, we heard really loud knocking on our door early in the morning. Five big men came in and told us they were taking us to a detention centre.

More info
Asylum seekers leave their homes and move to other countries, where they feel they will be protected.

My best friend was staying over at the time and they took her away and I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye.

The men told us we had to quickly pack some stuff to take with us, but we had to leave so quickly I had to leave most of my clothes and stuff behind.

To tell you what this is like imagine being pulled from your bed first thing in the morning by men you don't know! It was really scary.

No privacy

Then they put us in a van and took us to a police station where we had to wait for the van to take us to the detention centre. The van that arrived was a caged one and I felt like we were being treated like animals not human beings!

Once we were at the detention centre they searched us to check we didn't have anything metal or glass. It felt like we were being treated as criminals, it was horrible.

The detention centre was bad because we felt like we were in prison. We were put in a room with other people and didn't have much privacy.

In danger

It was really depressing because we were not able to see friends, and were only allowed out into a tiny yard with big walls around it.

Also, we had no idea whether we would be allowed to stay or would be sent back to Turkey where we were in danger.

If I could speak to the people in the government who look after detention centres I would say: 'How would you like your children or grandchildren to be treated in the way I was?'"

Meltem, 15, London


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