Seven mothers on hunger strike in the family unit in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC), near Bedford, yesterday managed to get a message out to the world.
The mothers have been on hunger strike since Thursday the 10th of April. The group includes two breastfeeding mothers.
The protest involving up to 15 families started last Thursday when a mother who was to be taken to the airport took sanctuary in the church in Yarl’s Wood IRC with her baby and refused to leave, she was joined by up to 14 other mothers who refused to let the mother be removed from the church.
Their message ‘Listen To Our Cry’ was issued as a collective statement from the mothers to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
It said: ‘This is the cry of all the kids who were born in this country and also the kids who have been in this country for more than two years. Because they’re already used to education in this country.
‘We as families detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre are concerned about the way our kids are being treated.
‘We are not criminals and our kids did not choose to be born in this country.
‘To seek Asylum is not a crime but the way the government is treating refused asylum seekers is not good at all.
‘How can a normal human being put children in a detention centre for more than a month? Just because the parents did not qualify to be given documents to stay in this country.
‘This is cruel and an insult to these poor children.
‘The bad thing is that most of the families have been in detention more than a month now. Yarl’s Wood is one of the worst detention centres in England according to how they treat the people.
‘They treat people like dogs; even a dog is better treated than a child who is born in this country.
‘Their food is bad they make chips and spicy food, how can you expect a child to eat chilli every day.
‘Kids are suffering and they are depending on 35p, which the government is giving them. because that is the only money, you can buy at least the cheapest juice to give a child to drink.
‘We are not even allowed to take anything from the dining room even a cup of water.
‘The hygiene at Yarl’s Wood is terrible – no nursing places and they are asking parents to wash baby bottles in the toilet sink.
‘Please help us, the government should do something about this, because we don’t even think that it is normal to put kids in prison.
‘In fact it disturbs their own life and freedom as if they have committed a crime. This is a cry for help. . .
Signed, Family’s United From Crane wing (Yarl’s Wood family unit).