Bishop voices concern at plight of child detainees

 The Bishop of Lancaster Patrick O'Donoghue has welcomed a new report which says that refugee children are suffering distress and health problems in Government asylum seeker detention centres. The report by Anne Owens, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that some youngsters confined at Oakington Centre in Cambridgeshire, are living for weeks without proper social service assessments, education or any physical activity. It went on to say that untrained staff were "struggling to cope" with numbers of troubled children who were "failing to thrive". Bishop Patrick said: "I welcome this timely report which reveals a situation that is all too common. Asylum seekers in detention and in the community are living in appalling circumstances. Only last week I visited a church-run centre in Liverpool for refugee mothers waiting to hear the results of asylum appeals. "I met about 25 women. Some of them had young children and some were pregnant. I was scandalised hearing some of the stories they had to tell of the poverty and pressures they are living under. "One mother described how immigration authorities had swooped on her home in the middle of night, taking away one member of her family in handcuffs." The report warned that the Cambridgeshire centre would face a more difficult time before it is due to close in 2006. Bishop Patrick agreed with Anne Owen's comment that the detention of refugee children should be "exceptional and only for very short periods". Source: CCS

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