Stop the deportations and removals

Updated 14 February 2023: City of Sanctuary UK: on Twitter

Updated 3 November 2022: Open Democracy: Priti Patel’s deportations deal with Zimbabwe is putting lives at risk

Successive hard-right home secretaries have created a Home Office that prioritises immigration figures over human rights

In the four years since she arrived in the UK, 56-year-old Josephine Sipiwe Jenje-Mudimbu’s life has shifted from one of hope to one of daily, grinding fear.

Josy, as she’s better known, is an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe, who’s currently staying with a friend and fellow Quaker in Norton, Stockton-on Tees. Six weeks ago, Josy was left needing crutches after being injured when six enforcement officers tried to collect her for deportation.

Though Josy’s deportation was prevented by a last-minute legal appeal, she’s been traumatised by the experience, and fears officers could come for her again at any time.

Given Zimbabwe’s appalling human rights record, an agreement made last year to deport people like Josy to the country was among the Home Office’s most controversial policies – until, at least, former home secretary Priti Patel’s deal to offshore asylum seekers to Rwanda took centre-stage.

Last month, Patel’s incumbent successor, Suella Braverman, said it was her “dream” to see Patel’s Rwanda plan actualised, despite opposition from human rights groups.

“The Rwanda deportation plan is fundamentally immoral,” Yasmin Mahboubi, the head of UK government relations at Oxfam, told openDemocracy. “It will put lives at risk and is legally flawed.”

While the plan remains under judicial review, with legal challenges having so far prevented any asylum seekers from being offshored to Rwanda, nine people were deported to Zimbabwe in September alone – despite the country’s worsening political climate.

Read more:

** please note that QARN does take credit for organising the petition for Josy

Updated 13 October 2022: Quakers – Britain Yearly Meeting: Quakers fight deportation of Zimbabwean Quaker human rights defender

Quakers in Stockton-on-Tees have rallied around a fellow Quaker who fears for her life if returned to Zimbabwe thanks to the UK government’s hostile environment for asylum seekers.

Josy Sipiwe Jenje-Mudimbu, 56, who has attended Norton Quaker Meeting in County Durham since arriving in 2018, is already on crutches after a failed deportation attempt.

Now Norton Quakers have launched a petition and GoFundMe to fight the removal of their much-loved friend.

A former broadcaster, film maker and secretary of Women Film Makers of Zimbabwe, Josy’s active defence of human rights and involvement with Zimbabwe’s main opposition party makes her a target for brutal reprises from ruling party ZANU-PF.

Her activism in support of LGBTQ+ rights in Zimbabwe and the UK places her at risk under current Zimbabwean policy and her barrister believes there are grounds for her to be awarded asylum.

Suspected fracture

Josy sustained a suspected fracture after resisting six enforcement operatives during the deportation attempt last month, prevented only by a successful last-minute appeal by her barrister.

A former member of Harare Quakers, since living in Stockton Josy has continued to live out her Quaker beliefs, volunteering for a drug addiction charity and the British Heart Foundation shop in Stockton.

Quakers have a long history of welcoming newcomers to these shores, and campaign for change to the government’s hostile environment towards asylum seekers.

Their Sanctuary Everywhere Manifesto of 2017 (read here) calls for migration policy to be built on human rights, compassion and practical response, rather than an assumption of disbelief.

Climate of disbelief

Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: “The climate of disbelief currently deeply embedded in Home Office processes is inhumane and discriminatory.

“Our belief in every human being’s equality leads us to oppose unjust deportations and removals. We work to create a culture of compassion and welcoming hospitality to answer that of God in every person.”

Norton Quaker Mary Garrett said: “Josy is still affected by the trauma of the deportation attempt, and she lives with the knowledge that at any point, another removal could be attempted and might well be successful.

“She feels a return to Zimbabwe would be equivalent to a death sentence. We love her dearly and we are working to prevent a terrible thing happening to a kind and principled woman.”

There’s also a crowdfunder that local Friends have set up for her -‘Josy has no access to legal aid or a stable place to live. She’s in significant discomfort and pain as she lives with the ongoing physical and mental impact of being assaulted during the thwarted deportation attempt. She is also living with the ever-present threat of another deportation attempt.

One thing we can do to help is pay her legal costs and help with living costs. Donate here:

Sign petition here

Read more via this link:

26 August 2022: Guardian: Albanian with British-born children faces deportation after decade in UK

Man, who has no criminal record, says Home Office is unfairly targeting Albanians as it fast-tracks removals

An Albanian man who was taken to Harmondsworth immigration removal centre near Heathrow airport last week has been told he faces imminent deportation, the day after the Home Office announced plans to fast-track the removal of refused Albanian asylum seekers.

The man, who claimed asylum in the UK a decade ago, has no criminal record, has never absconded and says he has consistently complied with immigration requirements by reporting fortnightly to the Home Office. His two children were born in the UK and have leave to remain.

“It’s like I have a knee in my neck, like they are suffocating me,” he said, speaking from the removal centre. “They came to search the restaurant where I was helping out, more than 10 of them, all wearing uniforms. They said they have a tipoff that an illegal staff member is here and started asking people about me. They gave me no explanation, just taking me to [the] police station, holding me there and then to the immigration centre. They treat me like an animal.”

The man, who is being held on immigration charges after his appeal rights were exhausted, says he has a right to family life as his children were born in the UK and have leave to remain. He believes the Home Office is unfairly targeting Albanians.

“The whole of this place [Harmondsworth] is full of Albanians. It looks like they’re rounding us up to put us on a charter [flight] out of here. The guy I’m sharing a cell with, over half the wing, they are Albanians.

“It went through my mind that this is [a] revenge against us. It looks like the government are finding loopholes to take us out. Everyone is so distressed and scared – we don’t know what will happen to us.”

On Thursday, the Home Office announced a deal with the Albanian government, which aims to remove refused asylum seekers “as soon as possible” amid a rise in the number of small boat arrivals from Albania.

Read more:

See this post: Public Order Bill is a Threat:

A reminder about vaccinations for people threatened with removal from UK, using Rwanda as an example: Malaria is endemic in Rwanda.  Up to 20% of children die of it before age five.  Those who remain are mostly immune.  However new arrivals who have not previously suffered it are likely to get it, unless they are protected.  Among the many legal challenges to the government’s policy of sending people to Ruanda will be one concerning malaria protection.  This danger is worth mentioning to anyone in immigration removal centres.

Updated 31 May 2022: The deportation of refugees to Erbil has been cancelled.

ESTA: SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Forced deportation of asylum seekers from the United Kingdom has been annulled, the Federation of Iraqi Refugees said on Tuesday.

“The order to forcibly deport asylum seekers has been annulled,” the Iraqi federation said, citing British refugee adviser Awan Abdulla as saying.

The federation further said no planes would be allowed to transport asylum seekers forcibly deported from the UK to Iraq without the federal government’s decision.

The federation cited an asylum seeker who is in custody in London as saying that the Home office had informed him that the decision to forcibly deport him had been revoked.

More than 60 asylum seekers, most of whom are from the Kurdistan Region, are in custody in the UK, according to the Iraqi federation. They were scheduled to be deported to Erbil on Tuesday.

On May 26, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denied rumors that it had reached an agreement with the British government over the forced deportation of Kurdish asylum seekers.

Guardian: Home Office cancels flight to deport Kurdish asylum seekers to Iraq

Campaigners against flight say Kurdish Iraqis had endured ‘unnecessary torture in pursuit of headlines’

The Home Office has cancelled a chartered deportation flight to Iraq that was due to depart from the UK on Tuesday evening.

Up to 30 Kurdish asylum seekers were facing deportation to northern Iraq in the first flight of its kind for a decade.

Dozens of Kurdish Iraqis had been detained in preparation for the flight. Many the Guardian spoke to were in a state of acute distress because they fear for their lives if they are returned to the country of their birth.

The UK Foreign Office warns against all travel to Iraq and says there is “a high threat of kidnapping throughout the country including from both Daesh [Islamic State] and other terrorist and militia groups”.

Home Office contractors involved with Tuesday’s deportation had to undergo special training to help them deal with the risk of dangers such as kidnap or hostage situations. This training is not required for the destinations of other recent Home Office deportation flights, such as Jamaica and Albania.

Read more:

30 May 2022: IFIR: فیدراسیۆنی پەنابەران – IFIR: Dashty Jamal secretary of IFIR’S speech at picket in front of the KRG office against forcible deportation of Kurdish asylum seekers

Dear representative of refugee organizations and Human right activists!On behalf of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) and the people detained in Harmondsworth,brockhouse and Colnbrook detention centres, I would like to thank everyone who came out today to oppose the planned deportation of Iraqi Kurds, some of whom have been in the UK for more than 20 years. These refugees are married with small children.We are protesting in front of your office against the inhumane agreements you struck with the UK Home Office.The Home Office has detained a number of Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers in Harmondsworth,brockhous and Colnbrook detention centres in the last three weeks. The Home Office has given them tickets to fly back to Erbil tomorrw.This policy, we believe, is the result of a recent meeting between Priti Patel and Kurdish Regional Government’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani during his recent visit to the UK.KRG must be aware that as a result of this shamefulagreement, they are removing families and children from their fathers. These people have spent many years establishing themselves in the United Kingdom. Do you want to send them back to a country which lacks fundamental necessities such as power, water, medication, and freedom? To a country where human rights are routinely violated. When people demonstrate, the government uses live ammunition to attack them. Many people, including journalists who have spoken out against corruption and government policies, have been killed, imprisoned, or arrested.People are angry because you refuse to accept responsibility for the suffering of your own citizens. You must take responsibility for this shameful deal with the UK Government. We demand that the KRG must stop accepting refugees who have been forcibly returned to Erbil Airport by closing the airport.We also urge that the arrangement made with the UK government be cancelled.Thank you for attending. We must continue to resist this inhumane immigration policy and make it clear that it will never be accepted.

Updated 28 May 2022: Stop the deportations to Iraq

BIDUK: Act now to stop the mass deportation to Iraq on 1st June

Hear from those on the flight & show your support by emailing your MP.

Email your MP

All the names have been changed to protect our clients’ identities.

We have encountered a number of Iraqi nationals who have been detained from the community. Many have been in the UK for decades and have very few remaining connections in a country that has been torn apart by invasion and protracted conflict in recent years. Some people are fearful of the treatment they will receive upon return.  

Those facing removal are seeking to resist their removal in whatever way they can. We recently received an email petition from Colnbrook IRC stating the following:

The Metro: Man who’s lived in UK for 20 years one of ‘up to 50’ facing deportation to Iraq

‘Despite knowing about this flight for many weeks, the Home Office only issued people with their removal ticket last weekend – just over a week before the flight, and on a day that lawyers are not working.

‘In the attempt to deport as many people as possible on this single flight, the Home Office appears to be obstructing access to justice.

‘We are impressed by the organising work being done by Iraqi nationals who are currently detained, who are uniting to raise awareness of the injustice.’

Updated 3 March 2022: This was yesterday, the day of the deportation flight: Zimbabwe: Politics and Government: Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 2nd March 2022.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of violence and intimidation of opposition politicians, their supporters, and trade unions, ahead of parliamentary and local by-elections in Zimbabwe on 26 March; and what steps they are taking in response.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK remains concerned by the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. This includes a lack of accountability for human rights violations, including those responsible for the death of protestors in August 2018 and January 2019, at the hands of the security forces. We are also aware of recent reports of police brutality and efforts to frustrate the opposition‘s right to free assembly. While the UK welcomes steps to legislate for an Independent Complaints Commission, the test will be its ability to act independently and effectively.

We have been clear that we want to see the Government of Zimbabwe meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law and safeguarding human rights. The Minister for Africa emphasised these messages when she spoke to President Mnangagwa on 1 November 2021 at COP26. Alongside significant development assistance to help ordinary Zimbabweans, we continue to support civil society organisations focused on human rights. On 1 February 2021, the UK imposed sanctions on four security officials responsible for some of Zimbabwe’s worst human rights violations under the current regime. Our sanctions do not target, and seek to avoid impact on, the wider economy and people of Zimbabwe.

Voice online: British soldier nearly deported in Home Office mix-up

MP says Joram Nechironga should be allowed to stay, as lawyers gear up for a court appeal.

FORMER BRITISH soldier Joram Nechironga was almost deported by mistake despite government officials confirming to Nechironga’s lawyer that the deportation had been put on ice until an appeal is heard.

In what appears to be a mix-up in the Home Office, Nechironga was taken from Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, near Heathrow, and transferred onto a bus before being driven towards the airport.

After making a series of phone calls Melch Riyo, from Tann Law Solicitors in Coventry, confirmed that he had got Home Office officials to tell the enforcement officers on the bus that Nechironga should not be deported.

Zimbabwean national Nechironga spent five years fighting in Iraq as a British soldier, and developed post-traumatic syndrome – and a range of other mental health conditions, as well as alcoholism – as a result of trauma suffered in combat, his lawyers insist.

He went on to commit a string of traffic offences and common assault against his son, as a consequence of untreated PTSD, leading the Home Office decision to deport him.

Read more:

Updated 2 March 2022:  BARAC: Urgent action- Iberojet airline to operate deportation flight tonight.

Iberojet are operating the mass deportation charter flight to Zimbabwe tonight which was scheduled to depart from Birmingham airport at 10.30pm but which we understand to now be delayed until 11.30pm.Out of 150 targeted, 13 are still booked on the flight but we expect this number to drop due to appeals. But nobody should be deported like this, especially not people who fled persecution and will be at danger now.Please can you urgently take action and call on Iberojet to #stoptheplane#Zimbabwe150#stoptheplane#enddeportations#boycottiberojet


BARAC@BARACUK·You can stop being racist @iberojetair_es and #stoptheplane. Why are you coming to the UK to target black people here for deportation , people who fled persecution as refugees. Where is your humanity? #Zimbabwe150

Updated 20 February 2022: People are being detained in preparation for a mass deportation to Zimbabwe on 2nd March 2022

22 February 2022: From Zita Holbourne of BARAC: Stop the Zimbabwe mass deportation – join the demo on 23/2, use our model letter to write to your MP

A model letter you can use and adapt, to send to your MP to ask them to stop the mass deportation to Zimbabwe on 2nd of March. Access the model letter here

A demo against the flight taking place 11.30am tomorrow, 23rd of February, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. Please attend if you can.   See the flyer below.

If you or anyone you know is impacted, please get in touch – we can offer support  and advice, recommend lawyers if you don’t already have one and signpost to legal and other services.

We are using the hashtags:  #Zimbabwe150 and #stoptheplane on social media.

Join us on Sunday 27th February to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill which if introduced will see an increase in deportations.

More details and flyer here

Read more here:

StatusNow: Deportation in this cruel hostile environment

This cruel hostile environment has given rise to yet another Home Office plan to deport people to Zimbabwe on 2 March 2022.  StatusNow4All abhors this decision made in the name of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

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ZHRO : Event: 23 February 2022, 11.30am: Demonstration at the Zimbabwe Embassy

429 The Strand, London WC2R 0JR from 11:30am: UN Highly critical of Zimbabwe, torture, abductions, rape

Updated 15 February 2022: SOAS Deportation Support : Stop TUI Campaign Success

In early 2021, a campaign was launched by a coalition of groups, coordinated by SOAS Detainee Support (SDS), targeting the airline and holiday company TUI. The campaign’s goal was to end TUI’s complicity in the Home Office’s Hostile Environment. For around two years, TUI was the main airline flying mass deportation charter flights. They ran nine in November 2020 alone, and were responsible for many hundreds of deportations. For more about TUI and their role in the Hostile Environment, see here.

All deportations are racist, violent and wrong. No private organisations should be profiteering from the Home Office’s brutal deportation regime, and it is particularly shameful for a business to do so whilst selling itself as family-friendly and inclusive. The tragedy of the violence TUI engaged in is compounded by the harrowing treatment of many deportees, frequently mistreated and abused.

TUI gained significant financial benefits from running these deportation flights. Some seats on their charters earnt them upwards of £10,000. Whilst running flights that tore people from their homes and families, TUI also drastically cut their workforce, laying off tens of thousands of workers. All this whilst receiving massive bailouts from the German government and paying their top execs salaries in the millions.

Throughout our campaigning, we coordinated a range of actions targeting TUI airways, both in person and offline. In August we arranged a national day of action, mobilising activists and shutting down TUI stores in 10 cities simultaneously. In September, we held a massive demonstration. Following these actions, we received word through back channels that TUI had pulled out of their agreement with the government.

We have requested statements from TUI explaining the reason for the halt in their engagement with the Home Office’s deportation regime. They have consistently declined to comment on this, and as we are committed to protecting our sources, we were unable to corroborate in the press. However, it has now been almost six months since TUI has run a flight whilst previously they were weekly. We are happy to announce the success of the campaign.

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Updated 11 February 2022: BARAC@BARACUK Warning that Zimbabweans have been detained over the past week

and we are advised that they will be deported by charter flight on 2nd of March. If you/family/ friends are at risk please get urgent legal representation now. Don’t wait to be detained. #Zimbabwe150 #enddeportations

Updated 10 January 2022: Big Issue: Exclusive: Number of people deported on Home Office charter flights triples during pandemic

Almost one in six of the government’s charter flights leave with fewer than 10 passengers, new figures reveal

The number of people deported by the Home Office on charter flights has nearly tripled since 2019, The Big Issue can reveal.

More than 1,000 people were removed on the controversial flights last year – but one in six planes left with fewer than 10 people on board.

The findings have renewed calls for charter flights to be scrapped.

Zoe Gardner, policy and advocacy manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), told The Big Issue: “We need to see urgent changes to this broken system that tries to deport people at all costs – people should not be exiled from the only place they’ve ever called home, and everyone deserves the right to have their cases calmly and fairly assessed.”

Read more:

Updated 3 September 2021: Guardian: Home Office spent almost £9m on deportation charter flights in 2020

The Home Office spent almost £9m on deportation charter flights last year, the Guardian has learned, including more than £500,000 for planes that never left the tarmac.

At least 828 people were removed by air, more than double the 410 removed on similar charters in 2019. The department spent £8.2m on 47 charters to 24 countries in 2020, with 18 of those countries in Europe.

The Home Office no longer provides specific figures when there are fewer than 10 people on a flight. Eleven of the flights had fewer than 10 people on board, meaning the exact number is unclear.

Ministers also paid £575,748 for five flights that never took off – two to Spain, two to Pakistan and one to Somalia. Officials say that they paid less than the usual cancellation costs on these flights as some flights could be rebooked or rescheduled.

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “These lavishly expensive flights make a mockery of good governance and value for money. But even worse than the economic waste, is the harm and pain they’ve funded. Semi-naked, self-harming refugees have been exported to face destitution across Europe and black British families unable to pay legal fees have been ripped apart by these flights.

“At present, our deportation and removals system is unsafe & unjust and any airline which believes in corporate social responsibility should refuse to operate it.”

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Updated 26 August 2021: from SNN signatory BARAC@BARACUK: TUI Airways lines its pockets from human misery The British charter airline has been responsible for at least 21 deportation flights since January 2021. Enough is enough, says ZITA HOLBOURNE, Chair of @BARACUK… in a new tab) @stoptui_eastldn@stoptui_cam@StopTUI_Notts

Zimeye: BREAKING: UK Deportation Flight Arrives In Harare

The 7, down from an initial 9, are now heading to Zipam quarantine centre where they will stay during the mandatory 10 days of isolation.

Sources at Gatwick Airport told ZimEye, scores of Zimbabweans were bundled up at 5pm yesterday en route for deportation to Zimbabwe.

Although there was no traceable detail on flight tracking websites, a chartered jet is expected to arrive with the group of deportees at RGM airport on Thursday morning.

The phone number of Zimbabweans deported could not be determined at the time of writing.

The deportations are part of an agreement between the British Embassy in Harare and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in which 6,000 Zimbabweans classified as foreign offenders are being sent back to their country of birth.

Read more here: BREAKING: UK Deportation Flight Arrives In Harare – ZimEye

Updated 24 August 2021: African Global Voices adds that most of the people who are being deported have long-term medical conditions, and require medicine  daily which will not be available to them in Zimbabwe.

TUC calls for deportation flights to be suspended

The TUC has today (Tuesday) called on the government to urgently suspend all deportation flights and to address “the miscarriages of justice that have taken place within the immigration system”.

The call comes as more flights are planned for this summer.

The full statement to the Home Office reads:

The TUC stands for the rights of all workers from all countries, regardless of immigration status.

The TUC calls on the government to suspend deportation flights until it has fully addressed the miscarriages of justice that have taken place within the immigration system, and to scrap the new Nationality and Borders Bill that would breach international human rights law and increase worker exploitation.

The TUC is concerned that the Home Office does not adequately check the circumstances of those they targeted for deportation. Many have no family, social or financial links with the countries they are due to be deported to, and would be placed at risk of persecution, isolation and poverty.

These deportations are also taking place whilst high levels of Covid-19 infections are still present in immigration detention centres. This puts both residents and staff at risk and jeopardises the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers, those involved in the deportations, and communities in the countries that asylum seekers are deported to.

We are also concerned about the utilisation of commercial airlines and the chartering of specific flights in forced deportations and the impact this has on front-line staff, including ongoing incidents of trauma suffered by those working on flights carrying deportees.

The government’s hardening attitude, indicated by the increased rate of deportations, is reflected in the Nationality and Borders Bill, which proposes that those fleeing persecution will not have the right to claim asylum in the UK.  This is a clear breach of the UK’s commitments under the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol. The Bill also seeks to prevent many asylum seekers from being able to claim rights at work which will increase the exploitation of workers.

TUC Congress 2015 asserted the need for the government to ensure there are safe, legal routes for people fleeing persecution to claim protection in the UK, and that the rights of asylum seekers are respected.  The TUC echoes the call made by our European trade union partners for governments to uphold the UN Refugee Convention and ensure those fleeing persecution can claim asylum and rights at work.

BARAC@BARACUK·@The_TUC Statement calling for mass deportations to stop #stoptheplane#Zimbabwe150@CookieBaloo@brolezholloway…@BameFor@OpBlackVote

The Independent – Zimbabweans recently deported from UK now homeless on eve of new Home Office flight

Men who were deported to Zimbabwe on a charter flight last month are homeless and living in fear of the authorities, it has emerged, as the Home Office prepares to send another mass removal flight to the country.

The Independent has spoken to two deportees who are living on the streets of Zimbabwean cities Harare and Bulawayo and are having to “beg for food” after being forcibly removed along with 13 others on a controversial flight to the southern African nation on 21 July.

Campaigners are meanwhile calling on the Home Office to halt a second removal flight to Zimbabwe scheduled for Wednesday. Dozens of Zimbabweans are said to have been rounded up and placed in removal centres in recent weeks, including those who have been in Britain since they were young children.

Read more:

This is not new information but just to highlight that when racism leads to miscarriages of justice, and that miscarriage of justice leads to deportation, we have a serious problem and people’s lives are put at risk: Black men ‘viewed as suspects before committing a crime’ claims ex-officer as racism in policing inquiry launched

The National Police Chiefs’ Council is implementing a board to scrutinise its policing of Black communities. An ex-police officer said he is ‘highly sceptical’ of efforts by senior police chiefs to tackle racism in policing.

Ali Hassan Ali, 40, claims Black men are often viewed as suspects before committing a crime by officers. Mr Hassan welcomes the fact the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Plan of Action on Inclusion and Race is being scrutinised by an independent oversight board chaired by high profile barrister Abimbola Johnson.

But he doubts the council’s ability to progress relations with Black communities. “Police chiefs are outdated and out of touch,” Mr Ali said. “There’s always advisory and inquiry groups. There are so many groups and boards but no change.

Read more:

Updated 21 August 2021BARAC@BARACUK·Update* we are hearing that deportations on commercial flights for those in Colnbrook have all been cancelled but no confirmation re charter flight mass deportations. Covid has spread and inadequate support, care or action for those with covid. #stoptheplane#Zimbabwe150

Updated 19 August2021: BARAC: Second Mass Deportation to Zimbabwe: Home Office Summer of Suffering for Black & Asian communities

There is a  second summer deportation charter flight to Zimbabwe on 25th August, only 1 month after the last. This also follows mass deportations to Vietnam in July and Jamaica last week where of 90 people targeted only 7 were deported but still 7 people torn from their homes and families. Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones.

But the low numbers actually deported on these flights demonstrate they should never have been targeted in the first place. 

Last week following the flight to Jamaica which was operated by  Spanish airline Wamos Air, BARAC UK,  Black  and Asian Lawyers for Justice together with the organisations which co-organised the Zimbabwe petition met along with community groups also campaigning against deportations and detention and agreed some actions to campaign against this deepening hostile and racist environment faced by migrant communities  in the UK and we will update you with actions to get involved in.

Please read on for some actions you can take and be involved in:

Updated 17 August 2021Movement for Justice@followMFJ Guess 2 much 2 ask @ukhomeoffice take COVID safety seriously & properly lock down Colnbrook – now ravaged by COVID. found out they snatched Albanians last night 4 yet another charter flight to country already struggling w/COVID #Jamaica50#StopThePlane

Independent: Immigration detainees ‘fearing for their lives’ as people with Covid not moved due to lack of space

Home Office accused of ‘putting political agenda ahead of public health’ as new detainees moved into removal centre ahead of deportation flights despite coronavirus outbreak

People in a UK removal centre say they fear for their lives after it emerged more than a dozen have tested positive for coronavirus but are not being moved to other units because there is “no space” to do so.

The Home Office has been accused of prioritising mass deportation flights over public health as it continues to detain people in Colnbrook removal centre, near Heathrow, despite an escalating Covid outbreak in …

Read more here:

Equanicity: UK’s detention and forced removal of Afghans in recent years and what the UK Government must now do

A Twitter thread by Bella Sankey, Director of @DetentionAction

My organisation @DetentionAction has supported tens of Afghans in detention in recent years. The highly traumatised people we have come across in detention frequently arrived in the UK as unaccompanied children having fled the most unimaginable horrors in Taliban controlled parts of Afghanistan including their parents being killed. 

The @ukhomeoffice response to this was too often to reject asylum claims and then begin removal proceedings against them when they reached 18. The UK has forcibly removed tens of thousands of Afghans back to Afghanistan in the past decade. Until 2016 there were monthly charter flights, delivering people back to grave risks and to the catastrophe we are now seeing unfold.

As well as those refused asylum, anyone with a conviction and a sentence of over 12 months would be brutally removed, including young people who received convictions that were clearly linked to past traumatic experiences. Until the end of last week, the Home Office position was that people could safely relocate to Kabul and the Courts have frequently failed to properly challenge this claim. 

There remain thousands of undocumented Afghans in the UK and people waiting on an asylum decision. We have one client currently still in detention.

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Updated 11 August 2021: This is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment by the UK Home Office and all that cause this situation to arise. Big shout out to Diane Taylor of the Guardian and May Bulman of the Independent, and the many others who keep this in the public eye :

BARAC@BARACUK·Of the 100 approx targeted by UK gov for deportation to Jamaica in early hrs of this morning we think 7 were actually on the plane thx to collective efforts. But that’s still 7 families ripped apart. Shame on @Wamosair who tweet about their pride in every flight. #jamaica50

Spanish airline @Wamosair is operating the mass deportation of #Jamaica50

The Guardian: Chaos as more than a dozen people taken off deportation flight from UK to Jamaica

High commissioner urges Home Office to stop flight because of Covid cases and spread of Delta variant

The hours before a controversial Home Office charter flight to Jamaica was due to take off were mired in chaos and confusion as more than a dozen people were removed from the flight after legal challenges.

The original Home Office “long list” for the flight is believed to have had 90 names on it. But the fate of the deportation flight hung in the balance on Tuesday evening as only about one tenth remained on the schedule. Tweets from a campaign group in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and flight tracker data, suggested the plane did eventually depart.

Sanjay McLean, whose lawyers argued that he has the right to British citizenship under the Windrush rules, secured a stay of execution in an out-of-hours high court hearing. But the Home Office appealed in an attempt to get him on the plane.

Two of the men due to fly attempted suicide and were taken to hospital.

The Jamaican government continued to raise concerns about whether the people due to fly were Covid-free and had had PCR tests before being taken to the plane. Discussions about whether to grant the plane landing rights in Kingston are understood to be ongoing. Concerns were also raised by lawyers and human rights campaigners about the vulnerability of some due to fly because of advanced age and mental health problems.

There have been at least two Covid cases confirmed among Jamaicans due to board the flight at Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow where most of those due to fly were being held. Some of the others were asked to isolate after close contact with those who had tested positive.

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Updated 10 August 2021: Guardian: Jamaica calls for deportation flight from UK to be halted over Covid fears

High commissioner urges Home Office to stop flight after outbreak among those due to be onboard

The Jamaican government has called on the Home Office to halt a controversial deportation flight to the island nation scheduled to leave on Wednesday due to concerns over “importing” the Delta variant of Covid, the Guardian has learned.

A flight was scheduled to take off from Birmingham airport but is now due to take off from Stansted in the early hours of Wednesday morning. About 18 people are due to be deported. Many of those due to be removed have convictions for drug offences, some relatively minor ones and some more major.

It is understood many of those due to board the flight have not been deemed dangerous in assessments by Home Office officials. Many have British children and some have partners who are key workers, such as nurses for the NHS.

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Updated 9 August 2021: Reported by ZHRO – deportation flight to Zimbabwe on 23rd August; and BARAC@BARACUK·In addition to the #Zimbabwe150 deportation flight 2 weeks ago #Vietnam22 flight a week ago & #jamaica50 flight this Weds, the Goverment have now arranged a 2nd mass deportation flight to Zimbabwe on 26th Aug. #stoptheplane

Independent: Man with right to British citizenship facing deportation to Jamaica

Home Office accused of ‘ignoring’ rules of Windrush scheme by trying to forcibly remove father-of-two

A man who has been in the UK for nearly 30 years and is believed to have the right to British citizenship under the Windrush scheme is facing deportation to Jamaica in two days. Sanjay McLean, 41, moved to Britain aged 12 in 1993 to join his father, Alpheus Thompson, a British citizen who first came to the country in the 1950s as part of the Windrush generation.

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Morning Star: Widely condemned charter flight to Jamaica to go ahead, despite claims that deportee tested positive for C-19

THE Home Office is pushing ahead with a widely condemned charter flight to Jamaica on Wednesday, despite claims that one deportee has tested positive for Covid-19.

Campaigners fear that there may be more cases of the virus at Colnbrook detention centre, near Heathrow, after a man tested positive on Sunday. It’s understood that he had previously been held in a shared dorm but has since been moved into isolation.

The detainee is one of dozens of men booked on the flight whose deportations have been triggered by past criminal convictions.

Many have lived in Britain since childhood and campaigners argue that removing people who have already served their sentences amounts to “double punishment.”

Several MPs have joined calls to halt the imminent flight, including former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who has branded the deportations “cruel, arbitrary and expensive.”

Karen Doyle of campaign group Movement for Justice said the detainee who has tested positive is still booked on tomorrow’s flight.

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Independent: More than 100 councils and charities vow to boycott Home Office policy to deport rough sleepers

Exclusive: Local leaders, including London mayor, pledge not to collaborate with ‘draconian’ measures

More than 110 local councils and charities have vowed to boycott a controversial new Home Office policy to deport foreign rough sleepers.

Rules that came into effect on 1 January made rough sleeping grounds to cancel or refuse a non-British national’s right to be in the UK.

In April, the Home Office published guidance stating that the new powers can only be used if “a person has refused repeated offers of suitable support and engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour”.

But campaigners said the policy could push already vulnerable people, including victims of modern slavery, further into the fringes of society, and that the limitations announced in April were “far from sufficient”.

Now it has emerged that nine local authorities and 102 charities have vowed not to refer non-UK rough sleepers to the Home Office under the policy, by signing up to a campaign called Support don’t Deport

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Observation from our signatory organisation Migrants At Work, Ake observes:

If you have a job, you earn an income. If you earn an income, you get a roof over your head. If you have a job with no labour protections, we are all likely to lose it. Instead of deporting people, the government need to act to prevent people from losing their job in a first place”

Updated 8 August 2021: Stop deportations – events – what you can do Keep up to date with what you can do, and please let us know if you have anything to add.

27 July 2021: Sign the petition: BARAC@BARACUK· Take Action against the Home Office Summer of Racist Mass Deportations…#enddeportations #Vietnam22 #jamaica50 #Zimbabwe150 #stoptheplane #boycottTUI #boycotthifly