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Nellie de jongh


10 children + doing time - in immigration detention (posted 20/07/06)

My name is Nellie de Jongh a refugee from Zimbabwe. I have spent the last week speaking to the 'Women behind the wire' at Yarl's Wood IRC about their children. These mothers and their children are all very distressed because they feel they have not committed any crimes fitting to the incarceration of them and their children, some of them have never been given a removal order. 

Aboubacar Bailey Junior born 16/04/06, in Holloway prison, served his first 79 days, was then transferred to continue his indefinite sentence in Yarl's wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), where he has served 15 days to date. His crime according to immigration law is that, the child takes the immigration status of his/her parents. Baby Aboubacar suffers with a skin condition which keeps him and mom wake at night; doctors are not very helpful. Aboubacar is first and foremost an illegal immigrant according to immigration law before he can ever be a child.

Halama Aboubacar's his mother said that Aboubacar was better taken care of at Holloway prison, breast-feeding mothers got an extra litre of milk in a flask for the baby every night, at Yarl's wood mothers breast-feeding when asking for extra milk for their babies whom they feel are not getting enough as they mostly all suffering with lose of appetite and can hardly eat the food provided. When they ask for milk they are told there is no milk for breast-feeding mothers, they are then told to drink lots of water. Halama said “she believes the only reason why their babies were treated better in prison is because in prison there are British nationals and at Immigration Removal centres we are all foreign nationals, that is why they don't care about our babies”.

Ayodele Micheal Ode born 17/04/06, 93 days old, he was born in prison lived there the first 22 days of his life and then transferred to Yarl's Wood IRC where he continues to serve his extended prison sentence of which at the time of writing is 71 days. What terrible crime must this baby have committed to have already served 93 days in two prisons?

Leatitia Kakmeni Pameni born 12/10/2003 and Stacy Leuni Singoue 23/02/05 detained 11/05/06, these two siblings have up to date served 68 days in detention. A removal date has been set for tomorrow @ 18.00hrs to Central African Republic.

Princess Solomon born 19/10/97 and Promise Solomon born 06/01/04, these are two sisters and their mother were detained on 30/05/06 and have up to date served 50 days in detention. Above is Promise's id card which has the following information on the back" This card is to be carried at all times while you are in the centre and handed in when you leave. The card must be produced on request to Officers to obtain access to the centre facilities.  Promise is two and a half years old, how is she to comply with the above requirements?   Promise who is suffering ill health has had nose bleeds for the past few days, according to the mother the doctor was not been helpful and could not reassure her about both the children's poor health, no thorough examination was carried out. Meggy the mother has resorted to holding promise in her arms (over her shoulder) while she sleeps as she said she has woken up on several occasions to find the child, her clothing and bedding covered in blood. Her worst fear is that Promise will choke to death if she lays her down to sleep.

Aliyah Benoni born 15/06/06 is the youngest child on my list, like Ayodele she too was born in captivity (prison) where she served the first 15 days of her life and then transferred to Yarl's Wood IRC 05/07/06, she continues to serve her indefinite sentence, and has done 15 days at time of writing, she is only 30 days old.

Molly Ssebatta born 05/10/01 detained 05/07/06 at 5.30 am, Molly's speech has been affected since detention, she has no appetite and refuses to eat most days, she wants to go back home and she misses her friends. She had been detained for 15 days.

Adecokundo Taiwo born 20/6/02 and Adeole Taiwo born 13/01/05 have spent 15 days behind the wire. According to their mother before they were snatched in the famous Home Office dawn raids the two brothers had been to their Gp and were due for a review as their Gp had said they have an infection. She was very distressed by the attitude of the doctors at Yarl's wood, even her request for Paracetomol. The brothers mostly want to know when they will be able to go back home and to school to do normal things again.

I hope that you have all read the document: 'Alternatives to immigration detention of families and children', a few points that again come to mind.

Instructions to immigration officers regarding the decision to detain a family include no requirements to consider the Children Act 1989 or the principles of the UNCRC.

No one is actively considering the best interests of the child:

Research carried out has demonstrated that claims by ministers that detention is only used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible period of time are untrue.

Children have a right to be safe from neglect and abuse whether from the institution, its staff or others within the institution.

Children's needs are invisible in the decision to detain. I plead with you to return these two sisters and their mother back to their community, where they can continue with their education and a normal life.

It is not enough for the successive Home Office ministers to merely acknowledge that it is regrettable to detain children, when numbers of children in detention are ever increasing.

The impact of detention on children and their family's health and well-being is very worrying.

To conclude, I am amazed at the courage of some of these parents, most of whom are fighting back in their own way with non compliance, they get together and have discussions and were telling me they have meetings and write letters to the authorities. Working with these woman/parents has brought home to me just how terrible immigrants are treated in this country, innocent babies born in prison and then transferred to immigration detention centres leaves me very angry indeed

Britain's Foreign Bastard Child

Nellie de jongh

Last updated 30 October, 2010