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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Vigil at Scottish refugee detention centre
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¬†Campaigners in Scotland held a vigil outside the country's only refugees detention centre on Saturday, to protest at the conditions in which around 180 men, women and children are being forced to live. Representatives from the Justice and Peace groups of Motherwell and Galloway dioceses and the Iona community, joined other church and human rights groups at the barbed-wired encircled Dungavel detention centre where one man attempted to kill himself last week. Dotun Adeosun, 31, drove a seven inch iron rod into his stomach after learning that his application for asylum had been rejected. After undergoing surgery he is now back at the centre in solitary confinement. Jim Henry, from Friends of Refugees in Ayreshire, said: "Many of these detainees are being kept in total isolation. They are completely cut off from the outside world. Each person receives just £1 week." He said that visitors to the centre, who are not allowed to bring in money, food or clothing, have to go through a rigorous vetting process, including having their fingerprints taken, before they are allowed to see the refugees. There is no privacy during visits. The refugees have no freedom of movement as every door is locked and security men wander around visitors like prison guards. Jim said campaigners were particularly concerned about the health of several children in the camp. He said: "One child has an open head wound and appears brain damaged. Another is a double amputee. One has a deformed foot." "None have received any education although there are plans to set up a school inside the camp. It is ironic as there is a primary school school nearby." Dungavel is run by a private firm - Premier Detention Service. The company was not available for comment. Jim said: "The government said they would only use such centres as a last resort, but we have met people in there who were taken straight from the plane. And they are kept for many months." During the gathering, the refugees were kept inside the buildings. When some tried to look out, campaigners said guards pulled them away from the windows and drew the curtains. * Young members of SCIAF, the Scottish International aid agency, have been collecting signatures to welcome refugees to Scotland. Entitled 'Ceud Mille Failte' (Ten Thousand Welcomes in Gaelic), the petition will be unveiled at a conference this Wednesday.
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