2 mass deportations in next 2 weeks as UK Border Agency Works for a white Christmas
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) plans a wave of mass deportations in a bid to purge Britain of unwanted migrants in time for Christmas. Aircraft have been chartered for collective expulsions to Nigeria on 8th December and Sri Lanka on 15th December. Up to 140 asylum-seekers face the risk of arbitrary detention, torture, sexual abuse or homelessness upon return.
The civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009 with President Mahinda Rajapaksa facing allegations of war crimes against Tamils. A recent report, featured on Channel 4 News and the Guardian, by the organisation, Freedom from Torture (see the PDF at http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/srilanka-report) confirms that Tamil refugees deported to Sri Lanka face detention, surveillance and torture. A similar deportation of up to 50 Tamil refugees was carried out by the UKBA with the co-operation of the Sri Lankan government on 28th September 2011.
Anti-deportation campaigners have also condemned the mass deportation of detained asylum-seekers to Nigeria next Thursday. Many detainees fear degrading treatment on return. Detainee support groups claim that women dumped at Lagos Airport by the UKBA often have to resort to sex work to get by. At least 6 similar collective expulsions have already occurred in 2011. 55 Nigerians, including up to 20 women, were forcibly removed from the UK on 26th October. Many of them had lived in the UK for years and faced destitution on return. The UKBA has used the code-name “Operation Majestic” for deportation charter flights to Nigeria and hired coaches branded “Just Go!” to escort detainees from the detention centre to the airport.
Last December, Britain co-operated with several EU States in a bungled mass deportation attempt of almost 100 Nigerian migrants (including 2 children dressed only in pyjamas) that cost €372,000. The plane stopped-over to collect Nigerians in multiple EU countries but the deportation was abandoned when the aircraft broke down in Greece.
Mass deportations to Nigeria from UK in 2011
7th February: 85 deported (56 men, 19 women, 10 children). Aircraft supplied by Thomas Cook (TCX542/5). Cost €500,000. Organised by Joint EU Border Agency FRONTEX with Ireland, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Norway, Sweden and UK.
4th March: 92 deported
20th April: 52 deported
May: Plane from UK broke down in Greece after passing through Ireland. A new plane in Greece returned all migrants to the detention centres.
21st July: 61 deported (47 men, 11 women, 3 children)
26th October: 55 deported. Aircraft supplied by Ryan International Airlines.
8th December: Flight number PVT 090.