On Detaining Children

I wrote about Yarls Wood last year and it seems that things haven’t improved much there.  It seems we’re still treating the detainess without dignity and those vulnerable children are still having to go through a truamatic and inhumane immigration removal system and we can only imagine how isolated and frightened they must feel.  There are some proper horror stories coming out of those dreadful places and looking at the curly barb-wired walls and the plastic cutlery, you’d be forgiven for comparing the immigration removal centres to concentration camps.

Gordon Brown and his PFI partners at Serco want us to believe that Yarls Wood is a cosy, safe haven for child refugees.  Dear old Gordy told us that every child matters.  If like me, you thought that when he said every child, he meant erm, every child, you’d be wrong.  Clearly, he only means every British child.

Children’s Commissioner, Professor Al Aynsley-Green has made it clear that the detention centres are not good for the welfare and well-being of the children detained there.  From the moment of arrest, during the harrowing journey to the centres and throughout their stay there, the children face extreme distress and trauma.  He acknowledged that some improvements have been made but ultimately, his message is that the place sucks.  And some of the recent reports that are emerging from Yarl’s Wood are frankly disturbing.   Security staff employed by profit-seeking Serco are allegedly using aggression and racism to dehumanise the detainees.  Women who were on hunger strike to protest the conditions (and the system), were denied medical aid and the Serco bully-boys have been trapping them in corridors for up to eight hours without access to water and toilet facilities.

This is supposed to be a decent and fair country folks.  These children aren’t criminals.  They didn’t ask to be brought here.  They are here because their families are fleeing from danger.  We’re supposed to be a good and decent civilised country that respects and upholds international laws on human rights and we shouldn’t be allowing our government to sweep these disturbing reports under the carpet.

Coincidentally, I’m currently reading Chris Cleave’s The Other Hand.  In short, the book is a fictional account of an asylum seeker known as Little Bee.  I’m only a third of the way through so no comment as yet but I expect there will be some tears.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Looking forward to your comments. As for the rest I am of the opinion that it’s the same thing everywhere. Much jaw-jaw but little do-do.

    There are still rooted racist feelings among many of our people.


  2. I know. It bewilders me that we can treat needy humans with such cruelty when we claim to be civilised and decent.


  3. There are two petitions to stop the detention of children, which you can all sign.

    The first one is the Outcry! – the Children’s Society and Bail Immigration for Detainees joint campaign to end child detention through coordinated lobbying and media campaigning as well as with a number of faith groups, NGOs, authors, broadcasters, actors (see today’s Guardian’s letters page) and politicians.. You can find more info here.

    The second one is a No10 Petition called “End Child Detention Now initiative”.



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