Two reports in two days, and each absolutely shaming.
The first is on the Yarl’s Wood detention centre. It has appeared in some of the media and there was a report on it on Channel Four news last night. (links at end of article)
A report has been published in Child Abuse & Neglect: the International Journal by child care specialists who examined 24 children aged between three months and 17 years detained at Yarl’s Wood.
They found that 73% of the children had suffered significant emotional and behavioural problems since being detained. These included weight loss, sleep disturbance, nightmares and bed wetting.
not surprising as they had been effectively imprisoned, many having seen their parents taken away in hand cuffs. Some had been separated from their main carer including a 20 month year old baby.
This report was complied in 2006 and a follow up study urged. nothing has happened since.
The detention of children has continued despite calls by childrens’ charities and MPs for the practice to end. This year 470 children have been detained despite the fact that, as one of the report’s authors states there is “no clear evidence to indicate that detention is necessary in order to prevent families from absconding, more humane alternatives to current practice must be explored”
Yarl’s Wood is run for profit by Serco.
For those outside life maybe freer, but equally tough.
An article in today’s Guardian throws a little light on the life of asylum seeking family in Manchester.
It tells the story of Shakira and Farzana Begum. They somehow have to live on £92 a week benefits. This is 30% less British claimants get. Shakira cannot wok even if she wanted to, as an asylum seeker she is forbidden to take paid employment.
Living on this kind of money makes life on long pathetic and shaming grind. Every decision about money becomes a desperate choice. The article is an searing indictment of the way people are forced to live in Britain in 2009 and should be read by anyone with a social conscious.
It is a story that shames this country, as is the story of Yarl’s Wood.
But even more than that it is a story that shames the Labour Party. It is a party that is meant to stand for the poor and the oppressed. And it has been in power for twelve years.
What can be the excuse be? These are not policies inherited from the Tories. These are policies that they have implemented and in the process batted away criticism from charities and their own MPs.
Stories like these make that idea that Labour might still be the “People’s Party” sound like a sick joke.
To watch Simon Israel’s report on Channel 4 News click here.
To read the Guardian article on Shakira and Farzana click here