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Protests erupt over detention centre ‘prisons’

Hundreds rally against ill-treatment of refugees

HUNDREDS of people rallied outside Parliament yesterday demanding an end to the poor treatment of asylum-seekers at detention centres as Amnesty International branded the ongoing refugee crisis the worst “since WWII.”

Campaigners and politicians, including Labour leader hopeful Jeremy Corbyn, stood in solidarity with women in Yarl’s Wood as part of a campaign to close down “immigration removal centres.”

The event, hosted by the All African Women’s Group, was part of a series of actions being held outside as well as inside Yarl’s Wood since March.

A spokeswoman for the asylum-seekers self-help network said: “We held a fantastic protest with people from various places and a number of organisations came today.

“Those who were in detention like myself were speaking about their experience, how supported they felt knowing that we are out here to address the issues concerning their rights.”

A former Yarl’s Wood detainee who preferred to remain anonymous said: “They say it is not a prison but we are locked up so what is the difference?

“When we report ill treatment, nothing happens or worse, we are treated as troublemakers and put in isolation where suicide watch is used to harass us, invade our privacy and deprive us of sleep.

“I fought and got released but had lost my housing and was destitute.

“My children were terrified I would be taken from them again so we lived underground.

“No wonder women do desperate things to survive.”

The protest came on the same day a report from Amnesty International condemned the approach Western states have taken to the growing number of refugees abandoned to an “unbearable existence” across the Middle East and southern Europe.

Amnesty’s secretary-general Salil Shetty said: “We are witnessing the worst refugee crisis of our era, with millions of women, men and children struggling to survive amid brutal wars, networks of people traffickers and governments who pursue selfish political interests instead of showing basic human compassion.

“The refugee crisis is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, but the response of the international community has been a shameful failure.”

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