Women Go On Hunger Strike At Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre
According to reports in the weekend, 120 detainees in Immigration detention centre Yarl's Wood have reportedly been on a hunger strike since 21st February against continued incarceration of migrants in the UK.
Sky News states the women are protesting the detention of rape, torture, and human trafficking victims, those in poor health care conditions, and the detention of people indefinitely and without the decision of a judge.
Unlike other European countries, the UK does not limit the amount of time immigrants can be detained. One striker told reporters "unbearable" uncertainty combined with the “constant fear of deportation”.
However, Serco, the private contractor that runs Yarl’s Wood has denied the news of a hunger strike, saying that although detainees had refused food, there had been increased purchases from the shop.
The Home Office denied people were detained indefinitely.
"When people are detained, it is for the minimum time possible and detention is reviewed on a regular basis", a spokesperson said in a statement.
"Any decision to maintain detention is made on a case by case basis but their welfare remains of the utmost importance throughout".
Commenting on the hunger strike, it said: "Any detainees who choose to refuse food and fluid are closely monitored by on-site healthcare professionals. If detainees choose not to eat meals provided by the Immigration detention centre, they also have the option of buying food from the centre's shop".
“My life is in limbo”
A 35-year-old Algerian woman told reporters she had arrived in the UK when she was 11 years old. Upon applying for a passport, she discovered she was undocumented and has been detained in Yarl’s Wood for the past three months.
"My life is just in limbo, it's the uncertainty as well. You don't how long you'll be locked up, you don't when you're getting out, you don't know where you're going, I can't describe that feeling.
"I feel like I have been kidnapped basically, I don't know where I am going, I don't know what's going on".
Up to 400 migrants are held at Yarl’s Wood, and most of them are women.
The action group Detained Voices says some in Yarl's Wood want an end to indefinite stays, better healthcare, and an amnesty from detention for those who have lived in the UK for ten years or more.
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