Migrants facing deportation from UK 'go on hunger strike'

21 August 2020, 21:08

The migrants have gone on hunger strike in a bid to avoid being deported from the UK
The migrants have gone on hunger strike in a bid to avoid being deported from the UK. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A group of migrants facing deportation from the UK after arriving via a Channel crossing have gone on hunger strike in a detention centre, campaigners claim.

There are believed to be 13 people who have taken the drastic step this week, with about five understood to be refusing meals.

A number of migrants are being held in Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport, according to charities and campaigners supporting the detainees.

They have also claimed that some individuals have attempted suicide while being held.

It comes ahead of a planned demonstration outside the Home Office on Sunday from midday onwards and amid a rise in people entering Britain via the Channel.

During one of this week's crossings, a Sudanese migrant tragically died while travelling across the perilous waters in an inflatable dinghy.

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He has been identified as Abdulfatah Hamdallah, who was initially reported as being 16 but documents found on him claimed he was 28. However, family members have told the Guardian he was 22 years old.

Campaign groups say two deportation flights are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday next week to France, Spain and Germany.

Lawyers are said to be in the process of working with detainees who are due to be on board.

According to the organisation Detained Voices, there was "mounting concern from campaigners about the safety and legitimacy of carrying out deportations at a time when coronavirus rates across Europe are rising".

The group publishes detainee-provided statements online that describe their experiences in a bid to campaign for improvements in the system.

It said it knows of five people who are on their seventh day of hunger strike in Brook House.

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One of those is said to have told Detained Voices they were in a "very depressed situation" and they were refusing meals "to reach our voice".

Meanwhile, a spokesman for charity Detention Action, which is also providing support for those being held, said: "We have heard between 10 and 13 people have been on hunger strike.

"People are getting so desperate in there. One of the men in there told me: 'No one can take this every day, we need help and for someone to listen to us.'

"Many of them are in a bad way."

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

If you need support or emotional support please ring Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.