Protests over UK preparations to deport Kurd Iraqi asylum seekers

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Refugee groups and protesters in the United Kingdom are concerned over plans to forcibly deport around 20 rejected asylum seekers to Northern Iraq from the detention centres where they are currently being held beginning August 28.

Despite a warning by the UN High Commission for Refugees that no part of Iraq is now safe, the Home Office is reported to be sending the men back as soon as 28 August in an Iraqi military aeroplane. Paul Kessler of UNHCR has said that kidnappings and other security problems are still common in Northern Iraq.

Returns to Iraq had been voluntary, but according to The Times around 100 rejected asylum seekers have been arrested and are now in detention.

Demonstrations have been held across the country and are expected outside the Home Office today, 26 August.

A spokesperson for the Refugee Council said: "It is one thing for people to return voluntarily and accept the risk. But there seems to be no urgent reason to remove people now. Iraq is in a state of turmoil."

The Home Office has not yet commented on the case. They have previously backed down under pressure. Zimbabwean asylum seekers were given amnesty from deportation until October following headlines such as that on the front page of right-wing Daily Mail "For pity's sake, let them stay".