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Statement on offshore detention announcement

We at Govan Community Project are absolutely horrified by the announcement of the UK Government’s decision to send those turning to the UK for safety and protection to Rwanda, as well as the set up of reception centres in the UK. It is clear that no lessons have been learned from previous models of institutionalised accommodation run by the State, including the impact on individuals’ wellbeing. There is absolutely no place in the 21st century for this sort of barbaric treatment of any human being. It is yet another example of the utter lack of compassion or human decency those in power in the UK have for those in a vulnerable position.

It is well documented that a huge majority of those risking their lives to cross the Channel to seek safety have legitimate claims for asylum. Nobody would put their lives or those of their children at risk on these perilous journeys if there were safety and protection available by another route.

Offshore processing centres will not address the reasons people make these dangerous journeys to ask the UK for protection and they will not stop traffickers from exploiting people. What it will undoubtedly do is cause more pain, suffering and trauma to those who have already experienced multiple life-endangering situations.

The Ukrainian refugee crisis has demonstrated unquestionably that the majority of the UK agrees we should be providing safety and protection to those fleeing war and persecution by welcoming them into our communities and supporting them to rebuild their lives, safe from harm. There is significant evidence from other countries that these offshore detention models expose individuals to further trauma, resulting in high levels of self harm, suicidal ideation and mental health issues, with many individuals facing further abuse and exploitation from people traffickers.

We stand alongside all of those who will be affected by this policy. Our colleagues in the sector and people in communities the length and breadth of the UK have consistently shared messages insisting that we do not wish to see a UK which would treat any individual so barbarically. We urge every MP and official in the current UK Government to halt this inhumane plan immediately and to spend the time, energy and money on designing and delivering an asylum system which offers individuals the opportunity to seek sanctuary through safe routes, coupled with a fair and human rights-based support system to provide a safety net which allows vulnerable individuals and families to prosper in our communities, rebuild their lives and contribute their strength, skills and knowledge to our society.

Barbaric policies such as these have no place in a 21st century UK and should not be how the UK Government wants others to see our nation.

Head of Charity quote:

The daily coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in the news has highlighted more than ever that the majority of people in the UK, and Scotland in particular, feel that welcoming and supporting refugees is the right and just thing to do. Individuals seeking asylum via dangerous routes are forced to make these ‘survival’ decisions considering the lack of safe routes open to them. The UK Government should be asking themselves if we were to find ourselves in a similar situation to Ukraine or any other countries where war and persecution prevail, would they not want their citizens fleeing for their lives to be offered safety and protection and treated with compassion, not herded like animals? Would they not want children to be protected, cared for, and educated? I would urge everyone to contact their MPs now to demand a stop to this barbaric treatment of people fleeing danger and turning to our nation for protection and to instate policies that reflect the views of the majority of people in the UK, who demonstrate time and time again that refugees need and deserve our support and compassion.

– Traci Kirkland


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