Letter to the Oxford Times

Dear Sir,

Recent tragic events in Lampedusa caused international concern when hundreds of migrants were drowned. The instability in their countries has driven people to risk making perilous journeys towards Europe, often in vessels that are entirely unsafe.

At last humanitarian issues and the needs of these migrants are being acknowledged.

But look closer to home, to Oxfordshire.

You may have noticed reporting of the fire at Campsfield House IRC, (Immigration Removal Centre) near Kidlington, on Friday night. People are locked up there, often for months, years in some cases, prior to being removed or deported. There is no time limit. The distress, depression, loss of hope and despair detainees go through is well documented. Their detention is purely administrative, for the convenience of the Home Office. Human rights are ignored to make the statistics look ‘good’, regardless of what happens when they are sent back. Many have had no legal representation, have never had their case properly heard, are not believed.

Between January and June this year 52 detainees attempted suicide and 251 self harmed across the whole estate. These figures are the worst ever recorded.

Hostility not humanity is the attitude encouraged by Teresa May in her recent speech in the House of Commons, introducing the new Immigration Bill. Her words encouraged xenophobia and fear and hatred of migrants who come here to escape persecution or in some cases to get work, often to send money home to enable their families to survive.

How is it that this and other IRCs remain open, at enormous expense to the tax payer and often irreparable human cost to the detainees, without appearing to be to be a matter of public shame or even debate? Are we not concerned?

Gill Baden (Campaign to Close Campsfield)

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