‘I thought they were taking me to a hotel’, a friend told me when he first arrived in the UK seeking political asylum.
He had been a much respected professor at the one university in his country, and then appointed a government minister, but when he realised first hand the corruption going on and refused to go along with it, found himself, wife and four children in grave danger and had to flee leaving everything behind.
He ended up in Heathrow, his wife and children in another country. But he thought he would soon be able to arrange for them to join him here as our country is known for caring for genuine victims on the run from corrupt regimes.
The ‘hotel’ turned out to be a detention centre. The ‘receptionist’ turned out to be a jailor who roughly searched this mature gentleman and then locked him up. He was confused, what was happening? He felt really negative vibes coming towards him. What had he done wrong? And it was so cold and the food so strange. This place was to be his ‘home’ for several months of interrogation before they finally reluctantly began to believe his story. Then began the long fight to be reunited as a family…
I was thinking back to this today as in our Lent 40 Days of Prayer journey we were focusing on Asylum seekers , Refugees and Immigrants and those we met at our church in London who came with the most moving stories, and in desperate need of some of Jesus’ tender loving care.
I was just so glad my friend arrived by himself and that his wife and children were diverted elsewhere. If they had also arrived at Heathrow they would have been sent to the grotesque Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire.
Last month the Daily Telegraph told how a woman seeking refuge in our country, having been raped and tortured in her native country will most probably be handcuffed and transported in the back of a van to this bleak facility where she will be charged with no crime, and can be detained indefinitely.
The rate of attempted suicides in Yarl’s Wood is appalling; so is the suffering of the children there.
The paper went on to describe the group from Women for Refugee Women shining torches outside the Home Secretary, Theresa May’s Westminster office calling for refugee women and their children to be released from detention and allowed to live with dignity in the community while their cases are heard.
As a vicar’s daughter, Mrs May will be familiar with Christian teaching on the treatment of the poorest and most vulnerable of God’s creatures.
Yarl’s Wood should be closed immediately.
It shames this country and its proud history of offering safe haven to refugees. It shames us all.
And stirs us to prayer, and to shine torches.
One thought on “It Shames Us All”
Citizens UK has been challenging the government about the horrific experiences experienced by so many at Yarlswood. We have won the battle to change the law so that children are not detained there. We are now working hard to limit the detention time to no more than 3 months. This will be a key issue in the run up to the next general election. Thank you for highlighting the issue to others who might not have been aware of the situation.