Undocumented migrants must have access to the vaccine too

Migrant Voice: While we welcome the rapid rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the UK, we are concerned that there are many UK residents who have no idea if, when or how they will have access to the vaccine: they are undocumented migrants, who live and work among the rest of us, but who don’t have the same access to healthcare and may be too afraid to seek out the chance to be vaccinated.

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Concerns about the use of army barracks

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation:

Updated 23 January 2021: Guardian: UK asylum seekers told claims at risk if they ‘misbehave’

Call for Home Office to act after private contractors tell people their applications will be jeopardised for speaking out, going on hunger strikes or complaining about food

People held at temporary Home Office refugee camps are being threatened that their asylum claims will be harmed if they “misbehave”, according to testimony from site residents.

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Asylum-seekers to protest delays in processing their asylum claims by sleeping outside in freezing conditions

10 January 2021: Morning Star:

A GROUP of asylum-seekers at an ex-army camp in Kent have vowed to sleep outside in sub-zero temperatures until the Home Office moves them to more suitable accommodation.

Five residents launched the desperate action on Friday in protest against long delays in processing their asylum claims and the squalid conditions at Napier Barracks, Folkestone.

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Brook House immigration detention centre closed due to Covid cases

8 January 2021 Independent: Immigration detention centre forced to close due to Covid outbreak

Ministers accused of ‘playing Russian roulette with public health’ after detainees moved between removal facilities

The UK’s largest immigration removal centre has been temporarily closed due to an outbreak of Covid-19, and detainees have been transferred to another detention facility as a result.

The Home Office has confirmed Brook House removal centre, near Gatwick airport, has shut for 10 days due to a number of positive coronavirus cases among staff. It said a “small number” of detainees had been moved 40 miles away to Colnbrook removal centre, near Heathrow.

Campaigners condemned the decision to move people between detention centres after they had been exposed to the virus, and accused ministers of “playing Russian roulette with public health” by maintaining detention during the third wave of the pandemic.

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Shrinking the space for human rights: A look back on 2020

2021 January 5: Written by: Frances Webber

A raft of new laws, Home Office measures and government proposals attempt to restrict the legal accountability of state actors, including ministers, while removing legal protections from those who need them most. In this IRR News long read, Frances Webber examines the various threats to human rights over the last year.

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Restaurant sends incredible Syrian-style Christmas banquet to Penally asylum camp only for security guards to confiscate it

22 December 2020@ Wales Online: Volunteers wanted to spread some Christmas cheer to the asylum seekers inside but guards ‘cruelly’ took the food away mid-way through their meal

An Aberystwyth restaurant sent a Syrian-style Christmas spread to the Penally asylum camp only for it to be confiscated by security guards (Image: Dinah Mulholland/Mark Lewis)

A celebratory spread of Syrian food was delivered to asylum seekers in the controversial  Pembrokeshire  asylum camp, only for security guards to confiscate the meal, it’s been claimed.

A group of volunteers were desperate to spread a little Christmas cheer to the men staying at the Penally asylum camp after numerous stories of the “prison-type conditions” and sub-standard food inside the camp gates.

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“No one should fear accessing medical advice from our superb NHS due to an immigration reason.”

Open Letter to Public Health England and other agencies:

“As PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants) have most recently expressed:

“Any vaccination campaign, to be effective, has to cover virtually everyone. Including #undocumented people is not only humane, it’s also public health common sense. We’re all in this together, and only together can we win this battle.”

Here is our letter:

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Napier camp, Folkestone is unsafe

People seeking asylum in Folkestone are protesting. They want their voices to be heard.

A resident at Napier Barracks writes: ” I can’t speak English , but I can write for you and I send good pictures for you , you can read the posters on my pic we are human. Everyone here has a mental problem because nothing is human. No body is responsible for how long we have to be here. Neither in terms of health nor food and any other help many people here do not have access to a doctor,
Many do not have warm clothes.”

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Asylum right to work policy unlawfully overlooks trafficking victims

18 December 2020: Freemovement: Landmark victory for woman seeking right to work as cleaner paves way for tens of thousands

A trafficked woman who asked a judge for the right to work as a cleaner has won a landmark victory in the high court.

The ruling on Friday paves the way for tens of thousands who are denied the right to work by the Home Office to have their requests to take up jobs considered.

Asylum seekers and victims of trafficking are generally denied the right to work by the Home Office. Many wait several years for their cases to be determined. There is a record backlog of 60,548 people waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim, with 76% of people waiting more than six months for a decision.

Read more here: https://www.freemovement.org.uk/policy-on-right-to-work-for-asylum-seekers-unlawfully-overlooks-trafficking-victims/

Migrants must be included in all COVID-19 recovery plans – UN and regional experts

18 December 2020: OHCHR International Migrants Day

GENEVA (17 December 2020) – Migrants and their families, no matter what their migration status, must be included in the national COVID-19 response and recovery plans of all countries, human rights experts* said today in a statement marking International Migrants Day. Their full statement is as follows:

“The pandemic has manifested globally the vital contributions migrant workers provide to local economies. Migrant workers form a crucial workforce in various sectors that are contributing to the delivery of essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in domestic households. Among them, migrant health and care workers have been on the frontline.

On this day where we pay tribute to all migrants, in a context of a continuing global health crisis that also has a severe impact on the governance of migratory movements, we must remind States to treat all migrants with dignity and provide them with equal access to services, benefits, information, and assistance.

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The State we’re in, it’s a Syn: that’s why we need Status Now 4 All

12 December 2020: RAPAR: “The syndemic[1] nature of the threat we face demands that we not only treat each affliction, but also urgently address the underlying social inequalities that shape them— poverty, housing, education, and race, which are all powerful determinants of health.”[2]
Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet (13th November 2020)

It’s Friday 13th March 2020.  I watch the woman, around 60 like me, reach for a clear plastic bag of five tomatoes.  Just moments before, my bare right hand placed it on the conveyor belt and now, her bare left hand lifts it towards the scales at her workstation. Tapping in her record of its value, she picks the bag up again, bare right hand this time, and sets it down before me. 

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Appalling conditions in barracks housing people seeking asylum

Status Now 4 All has a continuing deep concern about the impact on the physical and psychological well-being of people seeking asylum of being accommodated in ‘contingency units’ by the companies acting on behalf of the Home Office. The news items below amplify the voice of those with this experience.

We ask you to write to your MP calling for the use of barracks to be stopped, and for the Home Office to appropriately exercise its duty of care … and make a big noise about this desperate situation: Call for Status Now for All

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EDM (Early Day Motion)1263: Migrant Workers’ Rights

What can you do? Please ask your MP to sign EDM #1263, and to talk about it with colleagues. Thank you

Tabled on 10 December 2020: That this House would like to thank migrant workers who have been at the forefront of the UKs response to the pandemic; believes that recovery from covid-19 must level up migrant workers’ rights; further recognises that the Hostile Environment, particularly No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and the “illegal working” offence, forces migrants to continue go into work even when it is not safe to do; is concerned that the illegal working offence pushes undocumented migrants to look for employment among exploitative employers who know they are unable report abuse in the workplace for fear of immigration enforcement; expresses further concern that the illegal working offence disincentivises employers from hiring migrant workers and creates a culture of discrimination in employment practices; notes that the exploitation of migrant workers in the labour market drives down labour standards and protections for all workers; and calls on the Government to implement the recommendations in the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants “Work It Out” campaign by scrapping NRPF and repealing the “illegal working” offence.

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