10 February 2021 Rethinking Security: What has oil extraction got to do with migration to the UK? Birmingham volunteer worker (and member of QARN Steering Group) Rosemary Crawley tells the story of one woman driven to leave her home in the Niger Delta, and her experience as she came to seek security in Britain.
Sanctuary and hope
Women with Hope, a small Birmingham charity for women caught up in the UK immigration system, includes within its purposes the provision of a safe space in which women can relax, learn and reflect. A wealth of evidence testifies to the particular harms and disadvantages faced by women migrants, both in terms of their experiences in their various countries of origin and in the countries in which they subsequently seek sanctuary. Immigration detention and not being believed are just two of the additional traumas that so many women face once they arrive in the UK. Their need for a safe space to talk about these and other experiences and be heard is extremely important. It was in just such a space that Gloria’s story of life in the Niger Delta emerged.
Gloria is a member of Women with Hope and she told a recent meeting the story of her village in the local government area of Ughelli in Nigeria’s Delta State. Village people in Ughelli rely on fishing and horticulture for their existence and are very much affected and disadvantaged by oil spills from local drilling operations. Fish in the river are dying and the soil is damaged to such an extent that the usual staple crops cannot be grown. Many people like Gloria herself have left the area to seek a better life elsewhere, although Gloria still has relatives including her mother, trying to live in the village.