‘The waiting is terrible, I wake up screaming’: thousands living in limbo amid UK asylum backlog

Rishi Sunak said legacy cases had been cleared, but torture victims and others fleeing persecution feel forgotten

When Saba* converted to Christianity, she knew she could no longer stay in Iran. As a disabled woman and a victim of religious persecution, to remain would “mean being killed”, she told the Observer, her voice cracking with emotion. She fled in secret, claiming asylum in the UK in autumn 2022. “I was scared,” she said. “I only wanted to arrive in a safe place.”

Since then, Saba has been waiting for her asylum application to be processed. “The waiting is terrible. I have nightmares that I am being killed, I wake up screaming. I am visually impaired and have kidney disease. The stress affects my health – my hands and feet shake and go numb.”

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