Today, the Refugee Council in Yorkshire and Humberside called on the Home Office to end the detention of children as a Wakefield based asylum seeker tells how detention traumatised her 4-year-old daughter.
The woman (1), who has only recently been released from Yarlswood detention centre following an intervention by her solicitor will tell how her child has nightmares every night, jumping up in bed screaming “They are coming, run away, run away!”.She will describe how her daughter has “become very angry”, fearful of authority figures and began ordering other children about after watching her mother being forced to do things she didn’t want to by immigration officers.
The woman has been detained twice with her daughter for a total of 14 days. While in detention she witnessed one child self harming, hitting herself in the face, biting herself and hiding and crying for prolonged periods.
Charlotte Cooke from the Refugee Council said:
“This family’s experience is unfortunately all too common among families who come to the UK fleeing persecution. Children who have been detained frequently emerge traumatised, confused, fearful and fragile. They feel they are being punished but don’t understand why. Over 2000 children are detained every year as part of the asylum system. It’s unnecessary, inhumane and expensive. There are better, less costly alternatives which don’t cause the kind of trauma this little girl has suffered. We want to see detention end now and the trialling of better alternatives. (2)”
The Refugee Council, Save the Children and Bail for Immigration Detainees are calling for an end to the detention of children (www.noplaceforachild.org.uk) and urging supporters to send campaign postcards to the Home Secretary. 13 Yorkshire MPs have signed an early day motion backing the campaign. (3)
For further information and interviews contact Richard Byrne, Refugee Council Regional Media Officer on 0113 386 2235/ 07776203404
Notes for editors:
1. The woman is a victim of sexual violence from Nigeria. Due to her situation, she is very fearful and is not able to give her real name or have her face shown. She came to the UK in 2004.
2. A report by Save the Children found that detention causes children distress, depression, creates behavioural changes and confusion. It can cause and exacerbate physical health problems; and lead to lack of sleep and weight loss. It disrupts a child’s education, and can seriously undermine their ability to learn. It runs contrary to various international standards, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. See “No Place for a Child”, a Save the Children report, 28/02/05 at www.savethechildren.org.uk/noplace The report also details possible alternatives, at www.noplaceforachild.org/alternatives.htm
3. Early day motion 1845
Yorkshire & Humberside MPs who have signed up to date:
John Battle MP (Leeds West )
Colin Challen MP (Leeds Rothwell and Morley)
Nick Clegg MP (Sheffield Hallam)
Mary Creagh MP (Wakefield)
Ann Cryer MP (Keighley and Ilkley)
Robert Goodwill MP (Scarborough and Whitby)
Christine McCafferty (Calder valley)
Austin Mitchell MP (Great Grimsby)
Greg Mulholland MP (Leeds North West)
Marsha Singh MP (Bradford West)
Paul Truswell MP (Pudsey)
Phil Willis MP (Harrogate and Knaresborough)
Mike Wood MP (Batley and Spen)