The British government’s latest actions in a long line of anti-immigration / anti-refugee policy and legislation is to send unaccompanied minors back to Afghanistan. In the early 1990s, I worked with unaccompanied children [under 16] who had mainly arrived from Somalia. Many had been sent to safety by family, many had lost their parents or did not know their whereabouts. I remember at that time there were a number of young boys who committed suicide alone in tower blocks of East London. Their experiences were traumatic which was expressed in one way or the other, depression, self-harm, hard drugs, anger, silence. After traveling thousands of miles in the most hazardous of circumstances to reach the protection of Britain and then to be sent back is inhumane. Pick on the most vulnerable first and get rid of them then start on the others. Melanie McFadyean is spot on – the British government is currently spending £5billion annually on the war in Afganistan and now want to send children back from the horror they contribute to on a daily basis in order to buy into the anti-immigration lobby and divert attention from the real issues that face the country.
UK politicians sent UK troops into Afghanistan and are therefore responsible for the horror that is life in that country. And yet they sit in Whitehall or Westminster chewing their pencils and working out ways to cuts costs that will be popular with the electorate. Ah yes, you can hear them say, other European countries such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark plan to send unaccompanied children back to Afghanistan and so can we. How do they sleep at night?
Gary Younge comments on the contradictions between sending children in particular back to Afghanistan – it must be safe if it’s OK to send people back to, and a country deemed so dangerous that it must be invaded and occupied by Western countries in an endless war.
But in a period of massive global inequalities, war and environmental disaster, the western governments succumbed to populist pressure — encouraged in no small part by sections of the media — to violate their international obligations. We are now at a point where European governments, including our own, are sending back unaccompanied children to a country (Afghanistan) that after almost nine years they admit they cannot militarily secure.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, roam the globe without papers, citizenship or rights. They disappear into low-wage economies, torture cells and immigration holding pens and reappear in destitution, frozen to death in the cargo holds of planes or released without charge after years of detention and cruelty. The inhumane conditions in which they live have become a banal fact of the 21st century. In 2009 more than 100 immigrants, a quarter of them children, were found living in a sewer system under Rome’s railway stations.
The mainstreaming of the anti-immigration voice [read as anti African / anti-Islamic] is becoming widespread and even your average liberal voice [including established immigrants] / progressives now feel totally comfortable with not just with preventing more immigration / refugees from entering Britain but in sending people back. As Younge points out – the Government justification that many of refugees are economic rather than political is another contradiction as the poverty been fled is connected to neo-liberal policies of Western states and since when is poverty not political? Another ploy is too quote the UN Convention Relating to Refugee Status and the 1967 Protocol [extended the 1954 convention] which defines who is a refugee and the basis for claiming refugee status. That was nearly 50 years ago. The world has changed dramatically since then and the application of the conventions should be reflecting the present and not the past.
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Where do child asylum seekers to the UK come from? (guardian.co.uk)
Deporting lone children to Afghanistan is inhumane (newstatesman.com)