“… evicting people onto the street does nothing,
apart from create more illnesses, more miseries and more risks of death.
It has to stop.”
Shade Alonge, for DeButterfly CIC and Mama Health and Poverty Partnership,
On 19th November, two members of the human rights organisation RAPAR, both of whom live in the city of Manchester, both of whom fled from persecution in their home countries and both of whom have been awarded Refugee Status, received letters from SERCO telling them that they are to be evicted from their homes on 29th November and 17th December respectively.
The private company SERCO, whose Chief Executive Officer is Rupert Soames the brother of ex-MP for the Conservative Party, Sir Nicholas, is contracted by the Home Office to accommodate people seeking asylum in the North West. Under non-COVID conditions, there are two points in time at which SERCO are entitled, legally, to tell Refugee People that they intend to evict them from their homes:
On 27th October, Chris Philp MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Immigration Compliance and the Courts wrote to Charity Chief Executives about the: “necessary decision of 27 March to suspend cessations [that’s stop evicting people seeking asylum and refugees into destitution]… due to the impact of Covid, [has meant] there has been a lack of flow through the asylum support system; this has resulted in many individuals remaining in these facilities for longer periods. We have now resumed cessations where appropriate…”
Then, on 31st October, Prime Minister Johnson announced a second lockdown to begin on 5th November. The restrictions include the following “People are being told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as work which cannot be done from home and education.”
On 13th November, the International Observatory for Human Rights reported: “UK homeless charities are calling on the government to suspend evictions of asylum seekers, as more and more are being made destitute this winter. During the first lockdown, the government’s “everyone in” scheme provided temporary accommodation and testing for COVID-19, but this stopped in September. The Home Office then restarted evictions, leaving many in a vulnerable situation and heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.” 
Two days before receiving these eviction letters, secondary legislation was introduced banning evictions in England until January.
Commenting on this particular attempt by SERCO to evict Refugees during lockdown, Shade Alonge, Founder and Lead Counsellor for DeButterfly CIC, who recently joined the call for StatusNow4All, and who speaks here on behalf of Mama Health and Poverty Partnership of Greater Manchester also says:
" When COVID first began, the people who came forward to feed and shelter undocumented women and their children, now some of them are running out of food and money for themselves, as well as for the people who they are helping. It is becoming very desperate and evicting people onto the street does nothing, apart from create more illnesses, more miseries and more risks of death. It has to stop."
And a RAPAR spokesperson, analysing the timings relating to the 17th December notice observes: “The notice date is for 17th December. If lockdown is lifted countrywide for five days at Christmas SERCO, as a part of their contract with the Home Office, could start the eviction process then. A very cynical move.”
 Serco lands another £45m for ‘failing’ COVID Test and Trace scheme | openDemocracy
 Government bans evictions until January | News | Law Gazette
 Status Now 4 All - 'Leave To Remain' for people who are undocumented, destitute, and those in the legal process #HealthAndSafetyForAll
RAPAR members joined the 'Status Now 4 All' campaign in a national day of action in solidarity with Regularise on 19th September.
Standing against the reopening of reporting centres such as Dallas Court in Salford Quays, members held a demonstration outside the Manchester Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Office.
The Meteor reported on the rally, saying; "Protesters in Manchester demanded an immediate reversal of the government’s decision to resume registration of undocumented migrants at the Immigration Registration Centres in England, which had been paused this year due to Covid-19. The event leaflet also called for the end of Britain First’s sustained harassment of refugees who have been placed in hotels during the pandemic.
"James, a social worker from Stockport working with RAPAR, described the decision to re-open Immigration Registration Centres as a “rushed” and “callous way to treat some of the most vulnerable people in society, and irresponsible in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Join RAPAR members and StatusNow4All signatories In a peaceful demonstration outside the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Office in Manchester on Saturday, 19th September, between 1pm and 2.30pm.
This will be part of a national day of action in solidarity with 'Status Now' signatory Regularise which campaigns for the rights of undocumented migrants.
Regularise is holding a protest outside 10 Downing Street in London on the same day and at the same time as the Manchester demonstration.
The protest in Manchester will focus on the re-opening of Immigration Reporting Centres in the UK and Britain First's harassment of refugees who have been placed in hotels. It will be held at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Office on Saturday 19th September, 1pm-2.30pm, Piccadilly Exchange, 2 Piccadilly Plaza, Mosley Street, Manchester M1 4AH.
By Mohamed Al Halengy, RAPAR Leader since 2011
That time, 2006, when I arrived in the UK and my asylum case was refused, that time was so difficult to stand: first to support my self and support people at the same time and then to cope with being moved from one city to another city.
I started working us volunteer with different human right organizations when I was in Liverpool, and after when I came to Manchester, but some things are really real for me, it really does mean a lot.
I can’t forget the first time inside RAPAR office, in 2011, and the first words to me: “we do not go fishing for you, but we teach you how to fish…” Those words and that work, it changed inside me, a lot. RAPAR: The door is opening always and it is the best place for all young people, and older people too. There we learn: to accept yourself, and be your own best friend, wrapping your own arms all around you. Since that time until recently, until right now am with RAPAR and proud of all the learning and inner confidence, making our own decisions, recognising and manage dependence, having our own values, deciding who we want to be, and how we want to get there, that is the Gift for me from RAPAR.
Since then I started attending meetings and many different activities were offered. I learned to organize myself and others into meetings. I have organised meetings and demonstrations on the largest level in the UK and now I write, in response to the death of a 16 year old boy from Sudan who has drowned this last weekend, trying to reach Britain.
When Omar al-Bashir became president of the National Congress Party and Sudan on 30th June 1989, he seized power and began institutionalizing Sharia Law at the time when Sudan was in the midst of a civil war. That war continued, with that tyrannical ruler for 30 years. After the removal of that regime, the dirty hands that destroyed Sudan before are still involved in the destruction and sabotage of the economy, the poverty of the market and the large number of diseases, unemployed youths and deterioration: economic deterioration to such an extent that the mind cannot believe it. The economic infrastructure has been completely destroyed, and the Islamists of the National Congress party are behind all the destruction that occurs in Sudan.
I assert that, on top of them, the hand of the destroyer is Kabashi who is at the Head of the State, and also there are three countries that participate in sabotaging the economy, namely the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt
Cultural circles in Sudan were traumatized by the death last week of the young Sudanese poet, Abdel-Wahab Mohamed Youssef, known as “Latinos”, who drowned in the Mediterranean, after the sinking of a boat that was carrying him with others on their way to Europe.
And now this, a sixteen year old boy from Sudan, trying to reach Britain, sailing with a shovel.
It has to stop.
Link to Arabic film >>>
By Alimamy Bangura
After strenuously keeping the Corona virus disease at bay for months Sierra Leone finally succumbed to the pandemic on 31 March, 2020 when a male passenger from Paris, France tested positive.
The news was heart wrenching for Sierra Leoneans who had put all measures in place to keep the virus out of their country.
Since them right up to now, the Government had been preoccupied in fighting against the disease which, in spite of all the best efforts to defeat it, has continued to rise.
As I write this article, the figures of infected persons in the country as at today, Wednesday, 12 August, 2020 is one thousand nine hundred and seventeen with sixty nine confined deaths while hundreds of others have recovered and discharged with hundreds more admitted in hospitals.
Health experts I have spoken to are of the opinion that one of the major reasons why the disease is on the rise in the country is the denial by a large percentage of Sierra Leoneans of the existence of the disease. Another factor they advance is deep rooted traditional .
The effects of the disease has been very hard on the people and the country as a lot of social services have had to be cut down or completely stopped, economic activities have been slow, a lot of employees have been laid off and Government revenue has seriously reduced.
Even schools and colleges remain closed from end of April, places of worship are just reopening since April when they were closed down, and only examination classes have been allowed to resume schooling, namely, children writing the NPSE, the BECE and the WASSCE.
The fight against the disease is in course with Government taken the lead and assisted by the WHO, national and international non-governmental organisations and community based organisations.
The National COVID-19 Coordinating Committee says they are on top of the situation and that they are happy to report that the disease has been out under control and very soon it will be eradicated. 10:49
Violation of human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sierra Leone is be
Sierra Leone a small country located in the west coast of Africa, shared boundaries with two countries which is Guinea and Liberia, with a population estimated to be around 7.6 millions people
Sierra Leone was the last country in West Africa to record a corona virus cases
During the corona period there was mass violation of human rights in Sierra Leone from the Sierra Leone people's party government which is the present ruling government in Sierra Leone below are some of the human rights violation from the present government.
During the COVID-19 period there was a riot at the biggest correctional centre in the country which is called ' PA DEMBA' prison centre, reportedly resulting in the death of about 40 prisoners
The first case of was reported in Freetown central prison which is 'PA DEMBA ROAD ' prison on the 28 of April 2020 causing alarm among people detained therein who live severely cramped Condition.
There have been some restrictive measure by the authority , include prohibition of visit of their relative's. Prisoners are concerned about not getting enough food, better health care, lack of social distance, no good places to sleep after the prohibition on the visits, as well as spread of the virus and the ability to take preventive measures against the virus.
The government ordered personal bodyguards to enter the prison and kill the prisoners which resulted in the loss of about 40 prisoners in Sierra Leone, and up till now there is no investigation going regarding that particular matter.
You are most cordially invited to register here. (All registered attendees will receive the zoom link and details in their registration emails).
As the country locked down in March, RAPAR and other organisations started the new Status Now campaign - calling for Leave to Remain for all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the UK and Ireland, irrespective of their immigration status.
RAPAR believes the call for Status Now is the only way to ensure equal access to health, housing, food and financial support for all in the time of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The Status Now Network is growing by the day and has its official launch on Saturday July 11th.
An Early Day Motion calling for Status Now has been tabled in Parliament. Please ask your MP to support it.
The BBC carried this report about some of our work last week.
At the end of March the Network called on the British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach to grant leave to remain, Status Now, to all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland, to ensure their and others’ safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The open letter to the heads of states has received over 65 organisational signatories, the online petition has gained over 3,700 signatories and counting, and an EDM (early day motion) calling for leave to remain has been put down in the UK Parliament.
We can’t #controlthevirus unless we give everyone the same access to healthcare, housing, food and welfare. #StatusNow
Can’t #stayhome if you don’t have one! Grant #StatusNow to all undocumented, destitute migrant people to #savelives
Please encourage others to Join our campaign for welfare, housing and healthcare for all: #HealthAndSafetyForAll
And please add your name to the Open Letter and sign the petition here.
Hashtags: #healthandsafetyforall #StatusNow4all
It is estimated that during Colston’s involvement with the Royal African Company, it transported around 84,000 African men, women and children, who were branded with the company’s initials on their chest. Around 19,300 of these people died on their journey to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas.
Designed to maximise profit and hold as many enslaved people as possible, the boats were hotbeds for dysentery, dehydration and scurvy.
The Independent- Edward Colston: Who was the Bristol slave trader and why was his statue pulled down?
RAPAR considers that any attempt to criminalise the people who removed his statue would be deeply misplaced and shortsighted, only piling insult on top of the injury that communities around the world are expressing at this time in the name of #blacklivesmatter.
"Recent events around the world and here in the UK have placed systemic and institutional injustice in plain sight.
RAPAR has stood against all forms of exploitation, discrimination and oppression for 20 years and we give our full and unconditional support to Black Lives Matter.”
Watch this short video about Black Lives Matter from one of our RAPAR Leaders, Alimamy Bangura:
On 19th March we reported here
about what was happening to our member Jenny da Costa. Jenny is still waiting for the Home Office to progress his case and, as a consequence, is still destitute and now staying with friends in Sheffield.
On 3rd May, Jenny published a short report about what he was hearing from his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in reaction to Covid19.
Today, we publish his open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
Dear Mr Johnson,
I am writing to you regarding the actions of your special adviser, Dominic Cummings, the further actions of yourself, Boris Johnson and the potential consequences of the actions of the two.
Although not tested in court, it is clear to many, including those with considerable legal expertise, that Dominic Cummings has violated the regulations and accompanying directives. Dominic Cummings during the question period after his statement in the Downing Street Rose Garden said that his wife had no symptoms, while in his statement he said there was a high probability that he already had caught the disease. He cannot play on both counts. If his wife had no symptoms, there was no emergency, so no need to travel. If he thought he had caught the virus, he was breaking government regulations and advice. Cummings admitted that he went to the hospital when he was sick and very likely to have Covid-19. Again, this was not an emergency because his wife and child were in the hospital. Why did someone in their support network, the reason they went to Durham in the first place, not complete this task?
These regulations and the directives that accompany them have been followed to the letter by the overwhelming majority of the population. As you know, this has resulted in both considerable anxiety and self-sacrifice for many people across the UK. The public adopted a collectivism where the needs of the greatest number were privileged over individual advantages. This is one reason why there has been so much anger at the actions of Dominic Cummings, which has been compounded by the absence of apologies and your defence of his actions.
We all make decisions that in hindsight we can see are incorrect and we are of course all human and emotions can hinder clear logical thinking. However, I would like to emphasise that when it is a young child, nothing is entirely "momentary" because there is a lot to prepare. All in all, I am not convinced by Cummings' argument for making the decisions he made, and it seems that the majority of the public is of the same opinion.
In any case, whether we accept his explanation or not, we must all accept that there are consequences for our actions, whatever our motivations for carrying them out. As Dominic Cummings has an extremely high profile, his actions have more potential consequences and that is why people in positions like his are bound by higher standards than others. Imagine me as an asylum seeker, I acted the same as Mr Dominic and then I am arrested by the police - you know very well that mine would be a direct arrest - but curiously I simply note that we are in a world of untouchables, because the treatment which is to be reserved for the special adviser to the Prime Minister is a privilege, taking into account his social rank.
The actions taken by Cummings and the lack of consequences of those actions, including a resounding endorsement by yourself that Cummings behaved "responsibly, lawfully and honestly", have potentially significant public health consequences, including an increased number of deaths.
Mr Prime Minister, I take this opportunity to inform you that during this long and hard period of confinement, I had to face a dark period of my life, because I lost more than 30 people from my Congolese community . Everywhere in the United Kingdom, the people who were very dear to me but, given the rules of restrictions imposed by your Government, I had to stay at home in spite of myself, without attending any funeral ceremony.
This approval by the Prime Minister, the absence of an apology and the absence of any disciplinary action has led to the belief that there is one rule for the British public and a different rule for those in high office. You will be aware from your inbox that it is not just anger at the "Westminster bubble" or resentful "Leftovers" as some reviewers have indicated.
The success of the fight against COVID19 depends on a number of factors, including clear messages and confidence in the government so that we all act in a way that, while restricting our freedoms, benefits our communities in their togetherness. The actions Dominic Cummings took and your solid defence risked all three. The frankly bizarre explanation of the trip to Barnard Castle has led to general ridicule which further weakens the government's message. We are in a critical phase of the fight against the COVID19 which is, unfortunately, likely to last a long time. The Government appears to have proposed relaxing the lockout for political rather than scientific reasons and against "science". Some have argued that it was to divert attention from the lingering anger around Cummings.
Two questions come to mind:
If you answer yes to either of these questions, I think your action should have been the same as that of many of your fellow British citizens, who have asked for the resignation of Dominic Cummings. Your opinion? I ask you to reconsider your position.
Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu, Directeur Exécutif National, Human Rights Activist-Founder and National Executive Director of ‘No Impunity for the Congolese State’ (NICS) – Human Rights Organisation
e: nicsorganisationhrdc(at)yahoo.com; w: jennyvanmputu.com
ITV published short sharp research findings last week revealing the nature and extent of racism and racist discrimination in the NHS and posing some questions about how that relates to the deaths among front line workers. We asked the Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester, Professor Aneez Esmail, who is also a hands on GP and who heads up our campaign for the Registration of Medical Professionals in the UK for his immediate reaction to the research findings:
“The findings from the ITN survey concur with my own experience and understanding of why BAME staff in the NHS seem to be differentially impacted by the effects of Covid-19. As a practising GP I have numerous examples of colleagues who have approached me about their concerns regarding the lack of support by management and being forced to work in risky situations.
The NHS is a microcosm of society more generally and research is increasingly showing that BAME people are adversely affected by Covid-19 because they are over-represented in low paying jobs where they have less power and agency to manage their working conditions. Inevitably they are pushed into front lines roles more often than their white colleagues and are therefore more exposed to the risks of contracting the disease. There is no gene for being an ethnic minority and when an enquiry will be finally held I will not be surprised to find that proportionally more BAME died - whether they worked in the NHS or in roles in the social care sector - because of their working conditions and their lack of agency within these organisations."
On the social care side of this same equation, a RAPAR member composed this account about their friend who works in a dementia care home.
Mr B (he does not want to be named even though he is happy to share his experience)
works 12 hour shifts in a private dementia care home and he is feeling exhausted. He is experiencing racism from some of his white colleagues and managers: some of his colleagues are off sick or on leave and there are very few carers left to look after the 100 patients, some of whom are infected with Coronavirus. Some white staff refuse to serve those patients because they are scared they might get the virus and management send him to do the job: he has been with a few of them when they took their last breath. This affected him so much that he started writing about it, and he is thinking of leaving the job after Corona is over. His wife is in high risk groups, only recently recovering from cancer but Mr B's manager won't allow him to reduce his working hours . He said wearing masks for 12 hours makes him sick. He is a healthy man but I can see he is getting unwell mentally. The most shocking thing is, after working for almost 10 years in this job, he receives the minimum wage of £8.50 an hour and has never had a bonus or pay rise.
Obviously workers who are organised in the Trade Union movement have a critical reach out role here. Most recently the General Secretary of TSSA, Manuel Cortes signed our Open Letter in the wake of the death of frontline Transport Worker Belly Mujinga. Manuel explains: "The hallmark of a civilised society is how well it looks after its weak and vulnerable. No one who lives within our shores should be left destitute or without access to comprehensive healthcare. That's why I support this campaign."
And another of our signatories to the Open Letter calling for Status Now, MASI, sent this latest update from the Republic of Ireland:
‘It has been an uphill battle between ourselves as people living in direct provision and the Department of Justice. As of last Wednesday, we saw a sudden rise of people infected with Covid19 to 149. This is attributed to the fact that people cannot observe social distancing due to overcrowded living arrangements: direct provision residents share bedrooms, bathrooms and dining rooms.
We wrote to all leaders of all political parties in Ireland to raise this issue at Government level. It was encouraging then to see time allowed at the Dáil for the Deputies to pose questions directly to both Minister Charlie Flanagan and Minister David Stanton. This has never happened before in the Irish State; that the Parliament would discuss the issues about Direct Provision so passionately and, this time, residents felt well represented.
The following day we heard the two Leaders of the ruling parties admitting that they would like to focus on ending the direct provision system and creating a system whereby people have their own front doors and cook their own meals. The positive thing here is that they are acknowledging that this system is wrong and needs to end. What needs to clear is how it will end, in line with what people seeking asylum want:
1. Amend HAP criteria to include people seeking asylum so that people can move out of Direct Provision and live in the community.
2. Lift restrictions on the right to work for people seeking asylum and allow everyone in Direct Provision, and people seeking asylum not in Direct Provision, to work legally.
3. Extend access to Jobseekers Allowance to people seeking asylum, and extend child benefit to every child in the State, irrespective of immigration status. This is money that is currently paid to the operators of Direct Provision Centres who make millions annually.
4. Grant permission to remain to all non-EU/EEA nationals irrespective of current immigration status: there is no reason to import labour when there are thousands of undocumented people in the country who are very happy to contribute.
And, finally, North of the English border, the Scottish Government is offering an(other) example of how progressive they can be as, today, the make the call that ‘all migrants should be granted Leave to Remain (LTR)’. Yes indeed...
...If anyone can explain to RAPAR why, at their daily briefings, the British Government still do not have a signer who communicates information to deaf people using sign language to interpret, please email admin(at)rapar.org.uk. We are wondering if the reason is the same or perhaps similar to the one that accounts for why our Open Letter calling for Status Now #healthandsafetyforall has yet to be acknowledged, let alone acted upon. You though, can sign it here.