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.”
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 https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tui-airways-lines-its-pockets-human-misery…
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.
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@brolezhollowayhttps://tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-calls-deportation-flights-be-suspended…@BameFor@OpBlackVote
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.
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:
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.
Updated 21 August 2021: BARAC@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: https://www.change.org/p/stop-all-charter-flight-mass-deportations-to-jamaica-other-commonwealth-countries-jamaica50/u/29483945
Updated 17 August 2021: Movement 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
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 …
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.
Read more: http://www.equanicity.org/?p=2358
Updated 11 August 2021: Record of live broadcast in Facebook, from:
Manchester – https://fb.watch/7jsjMX_HCr/
Newcastle upon Tyne – https://fb.watch/7jslrhukvI/https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=Statusnow4all&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1425457408500015110&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fstatusnow4all.org%2Fstop-the-deportations%2F&sessionId=cdc11a6e24550a5c75f55cae92945bdef023f0bf&siteScreenName=Statusnow4all&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1890d59c%3A1627936082797&width=525pxhttps://twitter.com/MigrantFundGM/status/1425457408500015110
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Exclusive: Local leaders, including London mayor, pledge not to collaborate with ‘draconian’ measures
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
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 https://change.org/p/stop-all-charter-flight-mass-deportations-to-jamaica-other-commonwealth-countries-jamaica50/u/29387013…#enddeportations #Vietnam22 #jamaica50 #Zimbabwe150 #stoptheplane #boycottTUI #boycotthifly