Archive for Sudan

IOM – Complicit in Murder?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Tuesday, 17 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

From Today’s Independent:

Sent back by Britain. Executed in Darfur

Failed asylum-seeker followed home from airport and shot by Sudan security officials

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

A failed asylum-seeker who returned to Darfur under a government repatriation scheme has been murdered by Sudanese security officers after they followed him home from the airport in Khartoum, The Independent has learnt.

Adam Osman Mohammed, 32, was gunned down in his home in front of his wife and four-year-old son just days after arriving in his village in south Darfur.

The case is to be used by asylum campaigners to counter Home Office attempts to lift the ban on the removal and deportation to Sudan of failed asylum-seekers. Next month, government lawyers are expected to go to court to argue that it is safe to return as many as 3,000 people to Khartoum.

But lawyers for the campaigners will tell the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that people who are returned to Sudan face imprisonment, torture and death. Mr Mohammed, a non-Arab Darfuri, came to Britain in 2005 seeking sanctuary from persecution in Sudan, where he said his life was in danger. The village where he was a farmer had been raided twice by the Janjaweed, the ethnic Arab militia, forcing him and his wife and child to flee their home.

His family in Britain told The Independent that Mr Mohammed witnessed many villagers being killed and became separated from his wife during a second attack on the village a few weeks later. He escaped to Chad before making his way to the UK in 2005.

But last year his appeal for asylum was finally turned down and he was told that he faced deportation. In August last year he was flown to Khartoum under the Home Office’s assisted voluntary return programme, in which refugees are paid to go back to their country of origin. He stayed in Khartoum for a few months and then, when he believed it was safe, he travelled to Darfur to be reunited with his family.

Bristol No Borders Writes : “Voluntary Return?”

Its clear no one in their right mind would return to Sudan voluntarily – unless yo had all means of financial support withdrawn an were forbidden to work – which is exactly what happenened to Adam Osman Mohammed –  and pretty much everyone else on the “Voluntary Return” programme.
The programmme is run  by the IOM – thats the International Organisation for Migration. But don’t be fooled by the name.
The IOM claims to assist migrants. Last year, it used Bristol Refugee Week to try sell a positive image of itself to refugees and asylum seekers and to the groups they work with. Our protests seem to have put them off returning this year. In reality their primary function is to help rich western governments meet their deportation targets, regardless of the very real dangers facing returning asylum seekers.

The IOM is currently targeting asylum seekers from Iraq, Zimbabwe and now Sudan stepping in with their ‘voluntary return programme’ at the point where the UK government withdraws even minimum financial support. Faced with the alternative of destitution, no access to healthcare and homelessness, several thousand Iraqis have already returned through VARRP, despite the IOM’s representative in Iraq admitting that “the situation for those returning is grim… many returnees are unemployed while only a fraction have received any form of humanitarian assistance other than some food rations.”

The IOM makes sure that it takes no responsibility for the returnees welfare after they arrive home. All participants in the scheme are asked to sign a waiver reading: “the IOM has no responsibility for me and my dependents once I return [to e.g. Iraqi territory] and I hereby release IOM from any liability in this respect.

Anyone participating in the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) is prohibited from returning to the UK for a minimum of five years. Those who pay their own airfare home and receive no assistance from the IOM are eligible to reapply in 12 months.

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No Border Camp Calais

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, 6 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders


At the end of January, two No Borders activists from South Wales joined with others from Bristol, Brighton, London, Leeds and Newcastle to visit Calais and Lille in north-east France to begin organising for the No Border camp that is planned to happen in the region of Calais in late June this year.

Why Calais?

In 2002 an agreement between UK and French governments meant that the Red Cross running Sangatte centre in Calais was shut down. Sangatte had provided shelter for up to 2000 people and since its closure the situation for migrants in the Calais region has reached crisis point. Migrants including large groups from Afghanistan, Eritrea Iraq, Sudan and Palestine gather in Calais before attempting to cross the channel in search of a better life in the UK. Some migrants cross clinging on to the underside of lorries, some attempt to walk the length of the channel tunnel, with considerable risk to their lives. (There is a recent video from france24)

Whilst in Calais, we met with two local humanitarian groups who distribute free food to migrants. There is no state support available to migrants in Calais and it is against the law to help so called ‘illegal’ migrants here, so these volunteers risk arrest daily by simply feeding people. In the wind and rain on a piece of wasteland near the port, we witnessed the Catholic group La Belle Etoile giving packages of bread from a small van to hundreds of queueing migrants.

The same day we visited the kitchens of the SALAM Association, where volunteers prepare hot food for around 500-600 migrants each night, every night and serve from a van behind a warehouse close to the port. That evening, we were shocked by the number of migrants we saw, most were men, at the food distribution point and felt that what we were witnessing in Calais was a humanitarian crisis. Speaking to some of the migrants we learnt how up to 1000 people without status are living in woods near to the ferry port, this being known as ‘the jungle’, all waiting for a chance to travel to the UK in whatever way they can. They told us how police regularly destroy or burn their temporary structures and put tear gas in their tents. They told us how they have been caught by police before and driven to isolated places miles from Calais and left there.

Many of the men we spoke with were from Afghanistan. One had worked for the British Army as a translator and has had to flee his village as the Taliban have threatened him for being a ‘traitor’. Others had family with status in the UK that they were trying to reach. Another Afghani man told us how this wasn’t a choice to be in Calais as there “is no choice” for them; they have not chosen to have to leave their countries but have been forced to.

And the state repression of migrants in Calais looks set to get worse. At the end of January this year during a visit to Calais, the French immigration minister Eric Besson stated that he wants to see an ‘exclusion zone’ for migrants in the region.

no-borders-camp2Activists from both the UK and France have been working together to plan for a no border protest camp in Calais at the end of June this year. There is an organising meeting on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th March in Calais to discuss the political and practical aspects of the camp and its mobilisation. The meeting is open to any individuals or groups who act in solidarity with migrants and their struggle for freedom of movement. No Borders South Wales ( as are Bristol No Borders) will be taking part in the process, if your interested in attending the No Border Camp please get in touch.