Press release 26/03/2020 for immediate use
Three immigration detention centres (Brook House, Harmondsworth & Morton Hall) have confirmed detainees showing symptoms of coronavirus. These are among the most vulnerable people in society. Many who have fled persecution, now risk their very lives in detention.
Witness testimonies from detainees reveal that the detention centres are ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic. Yet the Home Office has not taken decisive action to avoid deaths.
Five detainees spoke to the BBC and stated that they were not even issued with soap in the above-named detention centres. These detainees cannot even follow the simple guidelines of washing their hands due to a lack of resources in the detention centre facilities. Other evidence suggests that cells are not cleaned when detainees are moved. This shows the level of hygiene practiced by these outsourced organisations. With such issues it will be absurd to believe that detention centres in the UK are equipped to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Tamil Solidarity spokesperson MR Ketheswaran who works with refugees and asylum seekers in the campaign stated “We must act now before something unfortunate happens. Prevention is better than cure and definitely better than loss of life. We have a pandemic on our hands and to punish these unfortunate asylum seekers & refugees and further putting them at risk by locking them up is simply heartless. These centres, run by profit-seeking companies, are not equipped to protect life and must be closed down immediately with all detainees released into safe accommodation with adequate support. Otherwise our fear is the Home Office will have more blood on their hands.”
The Refugee Rights Campaign, along with the Tamil Solidarity campaign, demands the immediate release of those detained. In addition, the Tamil Solidarity demands that all detention centres be closed. All detainees should be checked for Covid-19 and required health services should be provided freely. They should be housed adequately with food and other help provided. A weekly allowance given by the Home Office (around £37/ week) is not at all enough to survive. Tamil Solidarity demands an immediate increase.
Contact : Kethes@tamilsolidarity.org