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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Church groups refused visits to refugee centre
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¬†Church justice and peace groups in Scotland complained this week that they have been refused visits to an asylum seeker detention centre. They say that for months, Home Office ministers have ignored letters from the Friends of Refugees in Ayrshire group, which is demanding the right to visit to asylum seekers at the Dungavel centre in South Lanarkshire. More than 180 men, women and children are being kept in the former jail. The group wants to offer a befriending service to vulnerable asylum seekers there, examine conditions and ensure they are being treated with respect. Applications to visit refugees by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and the Christian Iona Community have been refused. Jim Henry, of the Friends of Refugees in Ayrshire, said:"I really think that it is a deliberate strategy to isolate these asylum seekers so that they feel even more excluded from society." The group, which has campaigned outside Dungavel since the centre opened to house asylum seekers in September, has received letters of support from Maurice Taylor, the Bishop of Galloway, and the Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine. Henry's concerns have been heightened by the riots in the past few days by asylum seekers facing deportation in the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre, near Bedford. About 23 asylum seekers absconded and caused £38m in damage after fires were lit during the breakout. Henry said: "Immigration policy, because it is centred around the imprisonment or detention of refugees, heightens the risk of tragedies such as Yarl's Wood happening again. Having come here for safety and finding only a detention centre must cause a lot of resentment in people. Government policy requires a rethink to make it much more humane."
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