Watching the Supreme Court deliver its verdict on the government’s Rwanda policy, a group of asylum seekers clapped and shook each other’s hands.
The possibility of being sent to Rwanda has been hanging over people who are waiting for decisions on their asylum applications.
Now, the UK’s highest court has ruled the government’s plan – which would have seen some asylum seekers sent to the African country – is unlawful.
Haval, 34, who came to the UK from Iraq, says at the migrant hotel where he’s staying in Staffordshire people have been worried which way the court would rule.
“I’m very happy because we don’t go to Rwanda – we like England,” he says.
Mohammed, 20, is in the same hotel as Haval. He came to the UK from Syria and has footage on his phone from the crowded small boat he travelled across the Channel in.
That was in August this year so he took the risk knowing there was a chance he could be sent to Rwanda.
Speaking via a translator, he said: “The people were very scared and we were also very scared of this news and what we were hearing but in the end we couldn’t give up and we couldn’t just go back.
“We came to the UK to seek safety in a better country and live… and actually we’re thinking Rwanda isn’t going to be so different from our country. We’re not going to have any safety there or we don’t know how the life is going to be there.”
Despite that, he doesn’t think the government’s Rwanda policy – had it been allowed – would have stopped the boats.
“Even if the court had decided yes to Rwanda, I don’t think this will have stopped people because people are fleeing not because of Rwanda or because they’re scared of Rwanda. They’re scared for their lives and their safety and what’s going on in the Middle East,” he says.
Another asylum seeker from Iraq, who’s also in the same hotel but didn’t want to be named, said: “Rwanda is not safe and asylum seekers came to the UK for more safety.”
“No one wants to go to Rwanda”, he says, adding that “maybe it would have stopped the boats but the government does not know because so many people are suffering in their own countries”.
As they returned to their hotel, there is still uncertainty about their futures and whether they’ll be allowed to stay in the UK.
But they all agreed they feel safer now they won’t be put on planes to Rwanda.