We want to protect people seeking asylum, allow refugees to have safe, fulfilling lives and prevent people dying at our border.
To do that, we need safe, efficient, and accessible ways for people to reach the UK, so they can rebuild their lives and join loved ones already here.
Refugees rebuilding their lives in the UK have shown us all, time and time again, that nothing can extinguish hope, but Priti Patel and this Government want to give it their best try.
The Nationality and Borders Act recently passed in Parliament means the UK Gov now has the power to send people people seeking asylum in the UK to another country, without considering their claim for refugee protection. This and Priti Patel’s recent announcement to send people seeking safety to Rwanda is called Offshore Detention and it’s REALLY CONCERNING! Here’s why:
What is offshore detention?
Offshore Detention involves one country paying off another to detain people seeking asylum and assess their claims.
Inevitably, this means a wealthy country with relatively few refugees paying off a poorer country that usually hosts many more refugees.
Men, women and children seeking asylum would be flown from the UK to another country, where they will most likely be locked up in a detention camp, indefinitely, while they wait for their claim to be assessed. These camps would be hidden from public view and almost impossible to access for journalists and human rights monitors.
This system has only been used once before, by the Australian Government, and it was a tragic failure, in every way.
Wait… Australia! Really?
In 2013, PM Tony Abbott’s Government began intercepting boats in the Pacific carrying people seeking asylum, on their way to Australia.
The Australian Government then flew those people to two detention camps; men were locked up on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and women, families and children were locked up on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.
Locked behind high fences on impoverished islands, these people were told that they would be held there indefinitely and that they would never reach Australia.
Ellie Shakiba, an artist and film-maker from Iran, was held in the detention camp on Nauru for almost seven years. Yes, seven years!
She told us:
“We often went without clean water and electricity for days at a time. The environment was polluted with heavy metals as we were imprisoned inside a former phosphate mine. We lived in plastic tents surrounded by toxic black mould. Most of the island’s buildings had crumbling asbestos materials and toxic smoke from a nearby garbage dump that was periodically lit on fire.
“Despite all of these health hazards and poisons, we were routinely denied medical treatment until our conditions worsened and several people died from lack of treatment. Even worse that all this harm was inflicted on small children and pregnant women as well.”
For those locked away, Offshore Detention caused:
- More than a dozen deaths, including the murder by guards of 24-year-old Reza Berati
- Numerous cases of violence, sexual assault and suicide
- Hundreds of cases of child abuse, including sexual assault
- Almost ten years of misery for those locked away
Even the Australian Government didn’t achieve their cruel intentions.
3,127 people seeking asylum were sent to offshore detention. Less than ten years later:
- 1,223 of those people are in Australia
- 938 were sent back to their country of origin
- 962 were transferred to live in the USA or Cambodia
- 233 are still held offshore by the Australian Government.
The total cost of Offshore Detention so far? £8.55 billion.
The policy did not extinguish hope for people searching for safety. People seeking asylum continue to travel to Australia, only to be intercepted at sea by Naval warships and dangerously forced back.
Why would the UK do this?
Clearly, there are better ways to help people avoid dangerous journeys in order to seek asylum in the UK. We can provide more effective refugee resettlement and Humanitarian Visas for those already in France.
But, Priti Patel and this Government want to try and extinguish people’s hope, by sending them to dangerous detention camps in distant countries.
This Government has already granted themselves the powers to use Offshore Detention as part of the Nationality and Borders Bill. And once this Government has opened the Pandora’s Box that is Offshore Detention, it will be much harder for us to close it.
That’s why we’re fighting to stop the implementation of Offshore Detention, before this Government has the chance to use it. But we need your support to keep this disastrous policy from becoming a reality.
Take action now and add your name to this campaign.
This blog post was written by our friends at Detention Action
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