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Kicking them out one door, Bringing them in the other

John O | 26.03.2008 11:34 | Migration | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | London | World

There are known to be 39 refused asylum seekers from Iraq in detention and facing forced removal to Iraq tomorrow Thursday 27th March; 30 in Campsfield, 5 in Colnbrook and 4 in Oakington. We suspect the actual number detained is much higher.

5 years on from the invasion of Iraq, at a time when violence is rising in Baghdad and "heavy fighting" is being reported in Basra, the UK's Home Office is making plans for a very special anniversary present for one group of Iraqis - an 'Ethnic Charter flight' to return refused asylum seekers to a country now deemed 'safe'.


Airlift will bring 2,000 hand-picked Iraqis to new life in Britain

According to Tuesday's The Guardian, "The government is preparing to airlift up to 2,000 Iraqis out of their country to begin a new life in the UK, the first time that Iraqis will arrive here with their status as refugees assured. Those hand-picked to come to Britain include translators and other staff who have supported British forces in Iraq"

NCADC has been reliably informed that an "Ethnic Charter Flight" to Iraq is planned for 19:00hrs on Thursday of this week (27th March 2008). We now know of 39 people in Campsfield, Colnbrook and Oakington, who are likely passengers on this flight.

One of them is Yousef Ibrahim, a musician from central Iraq who has been in the UK for some years. Yousef was drafted into the Iraqi army during the Gulf war and deafened by the constant onslaught of Allied bombs. He has suffered depression and confusion ever since.

When Yousef reported for his regular signing at the local police station on 17th March, immigration officers took him into custody. He was kept in police cells for 32 hours, transferred to Oakington Detention Centre for 5 days and is now in Short Term Holding Unit at Colnbrook Detention Centre. The Removal Directions served on him stated that he would be removed "not sooner than 72 hours and not later than two weeks".

When he was detained, Yousef had nothing with him other than the clothes he was wearing. He was not allowed to return to his lodgings to collect any of his belongings. He has no money and no change of clothes.

Yousef's distress at being "arrested" has lead to a rapid deterioration in his mental state. The depression he suffered in the past has returned but he has been unable to obtain any medication for it - and the situation is worsened by his hearing problems, which have made it extremely difficult for him to understand what is happening. As a result he is in a very confused and desperate state.

The Home Office is planning to return this vulnerable man to a war zone. He will arrive dirty, dishevelled and depressed. His disability will make things far worse. He will have no money and no means of contacting his family. Even if he is able to reach his family, they are in no position to offer him protection from those whose threats caused him to leave in the first place.

Yousef is just one among many (39 that we know of) who face removal to Iraq now that "The Secretary of State considers that travel to Iraq … is both possible and reasonable." - for refused asylum seekers that is.

The current advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth website paints a different picture:

We advise against all travel to Baghdad and its surrounding area, the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Al Anbar, Salah Ad Din, Diyala, Wasit, Babil, Ninawa and At-Tamim (At-Tamim is often referred to as "Kirkuk Province"). We also advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Al Qadisiyah, Muthanna, Najaf, Karbala, and Dhi Qar. The security situation in Iraq remains highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout Iraq, violence and kidnapping …"

As does the recent appeal from the UNHCR for EU countries to provide more support for Iraqi refugees.

Reliable figures put the total number of deaths in Iraq (civilians and home/foreign military) in excess of 659,140 and the toll continues to rise.

The charter flight taking these failed asylum seekers back to Iraq is not the only flight currently being arranged by the UK government - there is also one in the opposite direction.

Which, of course, begs the question, if Iraq is too dangerous for us and our friends and allies, how can it be safe for refused asylum seekers?

Swansea Campaign for Asylum Justice

What you can do:
1) Send urgent faxes/emails immediately to Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith, Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that all those Iraqi's currently detained are released and granted protection in the UK. Attached is a model letter Iraqi'sJS.doc which you can copy/amend/write your own version.

Fax: 020 8760 3132 If you are faxing from outside UK - Fax: 20 8760 3132


2) As this is a general issue, you should also contact your local MP

Please notify campaign of any faxes/emails sent:
Swansea Campaign for Asylum Justice
C/o Flat 4 Brockley Court
103 St Helen's Avenue
Tel No: 0845 345 5768
End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message:
Swansea Campaign for Asylum Justice

John O
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