Asylum Barracks ‘Public Health Disaster’ Over 100 Covid Cases
The immigration minister has denied that using former army barracks to house asylum seekers has been a “public health disaster” despite more than 100 residents contracting coronavirus. Challenged by opposition MPs about the conditions in Napier Barracks, a disused Ministry of Defence (MoD) site in Folkestone, Kent which was repurposed to house hundreds of asylum seekers in September, Chris Philp claimed the facility was “appropriate and suitable”.
Residents have been banned from leaving the site since mid-January after a number of individuals tested positive for Covid-19, and more than 120 people are said to have since tested positive. The Home Office has faced mounting criticism over the conditions in both the Kent camp and another military site in Pembrokeshire, known as Penally barracks, with NGOs and lawyers warning of poor access to legal advice and barriers to accessing healthcare and mental health support.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/tuk8ry
Scores of Refugee Children Illegally Detained After Crossing Channel
Scores of child refugees were illegally detained in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats last summer, figures reveal. Ministers have been accused of putting child welfare “gravely at risk” as data revealed that 80 unaccompanied minors – one in five who completed the dangerous journey from northern France – were locked for more than 24 hours in a processing centre between April and September 2020.
The figures, obtained by the children’s commissioner, show that one child was held for about 65 hours – during which time they had no proper sleeping facilities or access to fresh air. Detention of a child for more than 24 hours is banned under the Immigration Act 2014. Longer detention is permitted only in “exceptional circumstances” and requires the authorisation of the home secretary.
The shadow immigration minister, Holly Lynch, said the “shocking” revelations demonstrated a “complete disregard” for the wellbeing of unaccompanied minors fleeing to the UK, and called on the government to develop an “urgent action plan” to support them. Anne Longfield, the children’s comissioner for England, said the government was “wilfully ignoring the plight of vulnerable children” and that there was a “pressing need” to improve processes for minors arriving in Kent, as well as safer, legal routes of entry.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/hfaefo
More Than 213,000 Children at Risk of Serious Violence
More than 213,000 children are at risk of being exposed to serious violence with almost four out of 10 living in ten local authority areas. According to a report by Crest Advisory, the local authorities with the highest proportion of children at risk of serious violence were predominately in the north of England, including Middlesbrough which was reckoned to have the highest proportion of children at risk (37% or 4,335 children), followed by Manchester (36% or 15,302) and North-East Lincolnshire (29% or with 3,751).
Crest was given anonymised details about victims, witnesses and offenders involved in 18 serious incidents, including two murders and ten stabbings, and then mapped the connections, along with links to schools, colleges and young offender institutions. ‘All the 57 young people in the perpetrator group had previously been victims of violence. Moreover, many of them had serious mental health needs and many were not in education, employment, or training—critical protective factors against involvement in violence,’ Crest said.
The report found that the police and other agencies lack specialist training in identifying and responding to trauma. The recommendation given was that trauma-informed training should be rolled out across law enforcement and other services who encounter perpetrators or victims of violence.
Read more: Zaki Sarraf, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/pisNSh
Covid: 'No Deportation Risk' For Undocumented Migrants Getting Vaccination
People living in the UK unlawfully won't be risking deportation by coming forward for a coronavirus jab, the government has said. Ministers say they want everyone to get vaccinated and are urging illegal immigrants to register with a GP. The vaccine is free, regardless of a person's immigration status.
However, the policy is not an amnesty for immigrants and no-one will be given leave to remain in the UK as a result of being vaccinated. When the coronavirus pandemic struck in the spring, the government announced that anyone seeking a test or treatment for coronavirus would not have their immigration status checked. It is now being made explicit that this principle applies to vaccinations too. And the government has said it will work with outside organisations to contact those who aren't yet registered with a GP.
Read more: BBC News, https://is.gd/S20ztl
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - February 2021
16 Deteriorated Situations: Niger, Cameroon Central, African Republic, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, El Salvador, Guyana, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia
Looking back to January, our monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in sixteen countries and conflict areas, the majority in Africa and the Middle East.
Intercommunal violence in Sudan’s West and South Darfur states killed hundreds and displaced over 100,000 people.
Tit-for-tat attacks in Cameroon between government forces and Anglophone separatists intensified, inflicting a heavy civilian death toll.
Protests against COVID-19 restrictions turned violent in Lebanon’s northern city Tripoli.
CrisisWatch also highlights two improved situations. Qatar signed a reconciliation deal with Gulf countries and Egypt to end a three-and-a-half-year dispute, while Turkey and Greece held talks on eastern Mediterranean issues for the first time since 2016.
Conflict Risk Alerts: Somalia, Myanmar, Haiti, Yemen
In Myanmar, the military staged a coup on 1 February after alleging fraud in the November elections won by the ruling National League for Democracy. The military’s seizure of power could trigger mass protests and a violent crackdown.
Amid deadlocked electoral preparations in Somalia, violence could rise when President Farmajo’s mandate ends on 8 February.
The Trump administration’s last-minute designation of Yemen’s Huthis as terrorists could complicate peace efforts, trigger Huthi retaliation and worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.
In Haiti, clashes between the police and protesters could escalate as the opposition’s 7 February deadline for President Moïse to step down draws near.
Read more: Internatinal Crisis Group,