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 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
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.
COVID19 and social distancing in the Cameroon jails
Cameroon is one of the prosperous countries in Central Africa. As of 2020 she has a population of about 26.55 million and a total surface area of about 475.440 square kilometers. The country is made up of ten divisions, each of which is responsible for its own criminal jurisdiction.
However, most of the people arrested within different regions are taken to the Kondenqui Yaounde Central Prison for trial. The Yaounde Central Prison is currently overcrowded with inmates from all over the ten regions of Cameroon.
The Kondengui prison has outnumbered its capacity and it is full of inmates from Ambazonia (Southern British Cameroon) who, if affected with COVID 19, may stand little chance of surviving.
On several occasions the prisoners have staged protests about both the prison conditions and the war in the Anglophone regions. Recently, the protest soon escalated into a riot, with over 600 Ambazonian and Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) inmates taking over the prison yard, forcing the guards to pull out. The rioters also made a failed attempt to breach the special quarters.
The riot was live-streamed on Facebook by several inmates. In some videos, separatist inmates could be heard singing the Ambazonian national anthem. In one video, a political prisoner from the CRM stated that "We no longer want to eat maize porridge".
Through the poor conditions in which inmates are forced to live some of them die: from diseases such as malaria, lower respiratory infections, and diahorrea. This situation has never been redressed by the Cameroonian.
The coronavirus, so feared by the world has not as yet had any cases reported in this prison but a lot of worries are arising from loved ones and family members about what could happen if one of the inmate comes in contact with the disease, especially given the manner in which they are concentrated in jails.
One of the Prisons located in the Ambazonian Chief town of Buea is very similar. It has an overcrowded population. On July 24 2019, around 100 inmates at Buea Central Prison, acting in solidarity with their fellow detainees at Kondengui, staged a protest of their own. There, as in Kondengui, security forces used live ammunition while quelling the riots.
Following the Kondengui riot, Amnesty International called on Cameroon to improve the prison conditions in Kondengui, and to allow an independent investigation of the crackdown on the riots. Human Rights Watch was later able to document that many of the detainees had been tortured. Many were brought to court and charged for rebellion, and in some cases their lawyers were not allowed to enter the courtroom.
Recently, , in an attempt to decongest the prison, the president of the Republic of Cameroon, making his first appearance to the public after his long disappearance, granted amnesty to some prisoners including those who have embezzled state funds and some other inmates charged with terrorism.
Critics say this is not a brilliant step by the president: his intention should be on decongesting the prison and reducing the spread of the corona virus, but this does not appear to be his motivation as the majority of the prisoners who remain in Prison and are not granted amnesty are from the north west and south west region of the country (Ambazonia), having been arrested as part of the ongoing war in Ambazonia.
These individuals are highly at risk from COVID19. They cannot observe social distancing and the government has taken no measures to keep them safe.
Many people have speculated that if strict measures are not taken to safeguard the prisoners against the Corona Virus many will die if they are affected.
This report has been written by a RAPAR member in the UK who is currently destitute. Most recently, their case has been even further delayed.
@Two Part Report about Coronavirus in DRC-Kinshasa as at Monday, April 27, 2020
(English version for RAPAR)
Part 1 459 People infected - 381 People in care - 50 People healed – 28 People dead
Since the Coronavirus pandemic emerged in the DRC, a lot of effort has been made by the response team to try to control it. For three days, the figures have been growing sharply, enough to suggest that what Dr Jean-Jacques Muyembe - Secretary of the response committee – feared, is coming to pass: the month of May could be one of great danger.
On March 24, 2020, the Head of State declared a state of health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Immediately, teams from the Ministry of Health were deployed on the ground to quarantine Kinshasa, erecting barriers in Kasangulu, Mitendi (Kongo Central) and Mongata on the border of the provinces of Kwango, Kwilu, Maindombe and Kasaï Central, to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
44 health workers, including a team leader, were deployed to Ngobila beach for a period of 30 days: 21/03 to 20/04/2020;
60 health workers, including a team leader, deployed at N’Djili airport for a period of 30 days: 21/03 to 20/04/2020;
44 health workers, including a team leader, a data manager, a supervised worker, a driver and health officers deployed for a period of 15 days: 06/04 to 20/04/2020.
Buses have been made available. However, once the teams arrived at the various areas, no provision was made for their return and their care.
The agents are abandoned at the areas without accommodation or mission costs.
Today, day for day, it has been a month since the agents benefited either from the mission expenses, or from accommodation (they spend the night under the stars), but the Ministry of Health reports them as deployed on the ground and as part of the fight against the spread of Coronavirus. The agents are put in a position of not being able to produce a good result.
There is, for example, a lack of materials for disinfection, the rupture of travelers' registration forms, inventory shortage of liquid soap, pens, nose pads (masks), gloves, chlorine (bleach) for disinfection, fuels for the generator, water for washing hands and ruptured batteries to power the thermo flashes.
In short, the agents are abandoned. How can it be then, that such agents be relied on to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
"Today, we are starting the second month and families are abandoned without means of food. Agents who are now sick ground are not being supported. Likewise for those recently deployed to the Gombe commune", complains an agent of the Ministry of Health deployed to Mongata.
There is terrible unease and, if conditions are not improved, many of the Agents are announcing a work stoppage soon.
Part 2 Deplorable conditions of detention in prisons in the DRC
The Congolese NGO "Bill Clinton Peace Foundation" is sounding the alarm, denouncing the conditions of detention, notably in Makala prison in Kinshasa. The "Bill Clinton Peace Foundation" denounces the lack of food and adequate medical care which is said to have been the cause of the deaths of at least 17 prisoners there have died in Makala central prison in Kinshasa. This Makala prison hosts more than eight thousand detainees, 94% of whom are still awaiting trial.
Our correspondent on the spot who cites prison sources reports that, for two months, Makala has not received its endowment in food rations intended for the imprisoned.
According to this source, the prison is overcrowded, with more than 500 prisoners in particular in the establishment. The conditions of detention are so bad that the NGOs estimate that 100 or so people are seriously ill.
The Deputy Minister of Justice has declared to the local media that funds have been released to deal with the situation. He has promised to gradually mobilize more money to address the lack of food and medicine for the residents of Kinshasa central prison.
These reports are by Jenny DAKOSTA VAN MPUTU is the Directeur Exécutif National, Human Rights Activist-Founder and National Executive Director of ‘No Impunity for the Congolese State’ (NICS) based: C/O RAPAR. 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS.
Phone: 00447405082590 / 00447490875889
Who we are: Women? Men? Children? Elders? People with disabilities?
Where we are from: East? West? North? South?
Where we live: London? Birmingham? Manchester? Glasgow? Anywhere?
How many of us live there: Single room? Family in a room? Community cluster in a house or a flat?
Our health status: Healthy? Sick? Dying? Dead?
The jobs we had before COVID19 arrived in the UK: manual labour as builders, careworkers, childminders, cleaners, decorators, prostitutes, sauna workers, seasonal workers, and security guards?
The jobs we still have: Careworkers?
How many more of us will die before 7th May? That’s the next time the Home Affairs Select Committee will sit to hear oral evidence session for its ongoing enquiry into Home Office preparedness into Covid-19.
The causes of our deaths: the systematic exploitation and oppression of working class people all over the world that results in Malnutrition, Overcrowding, Poverty, and Stress all of which compromise our physical abilities to stay well and fight any and all infections and diseases, including COVID19? Today's Guardian is telling us that COVID19 deaths are twice as high in poor areas.
One of the signatories to our 27th March 2020 Open Letter that was received on that date and remains UNacknowledged by the Prime Minister, is Positive Action in Housing. This morning they advised us that, currently, they assist 2,500 families a year, 92% of whom are living below the poverty line or in destitution.
Within the last 6 hours, RAPAR has been contacted by an NGO describing the sequence of events that have culminated this morning with a woman carer, known to them for 15 years, presenting herself for committal at a mental health institution:
Emily (not her real name) came to Britain on a work permit 15 years ago. She worked as a carer in the private sector, looking after the elderly. When the visa rules for migrant care workers changed in 2007 Emily became undocumented. When the campaign led by Kanlungan Filipino Consortium won concessions in 2008, she became redocumented, at which point she trained, became registered as a nurse and began to work in the privatised care home sector.
Since COVID19 emerged she has been expected to work without PPE. As the pressure mounts for PPE to be supplied, Emily, alongside many other frontline workers, has asked for PPE to be made available to her. Two weeks ago, one of the Filipino carers working with Emily died with COVID19 and, at the same time, Emily started to suffer with fever and cough.
The company that employs Emily has told her that if she does not present for work she will be dismissed.
She told us, via text overnight last night, “I don’t want to go back to work but the company is threatening staff to dismiss them if they won’t return to work”.
This morning, Emily has presented for mental health services and been admitted as an inpatient. One of her last texts before admission read: “Regardless of color, skin or race we should be treated with dignity. I don’t want to die but to live.”
For further information contact:
Rhetta Moran at rhetta.moran(at)rapar.org.uk / 0777-626-4646
Susan Cueva at info(at)kanlungan.org.uk/ 0739-779-6238
We’re all in shock. Not that we easily admit it to ourselves or each other, but we are. We’re shocked about the existence of COVID19 and, every day, every time we hear another example of the shockingly bad management of COVID19 at Local, National and International levels by States and Agencies vested with the power to advance Public Health, our individually shocked selves get zapped again... and again.
What’s more, whether it arose from a single or multiple/continuous incidents, salt is pouring on the wounds of everyone, everywhere, who is living with any trauma that existed before Covid19.
Right now, who are the people who aren’t:
1. Able to access housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else?
2. Living in an environment where it is doable and sustainable to follow the Public Health directives: self-isolate as necessary, maintain social distancing, keep cleaning our environment and boosting our immunities, and thereby limit COVID19 viral transmission to the minimum?
In the UK… they are:
Residents, who may also be families that include essential or front line workers, living now in care homes, detention centres, hostels and houses for people seeking asylum, london busses, overcrowded and under-resourced social /private housing/ flats, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and in the case of young UK people who are undocumented, other peoples’ tenancies.
They are UNABLE to do 1. or live in 2.
If the British State wasn’t previously aware that members of these population groups are living and dying, every day, with barriers between them and environments where it is possible to exercise and sustain vital public health behaviours, IT - as in the British State - became aware of these incontrovertible public health facts on 27th March 2020 when 10 Downing Street received our Open Letter calling for Status Now to secure access to healthcare housing and food for all.
Across Europe… they are:
Among others, our Refugee Sisters and Brothers, advocating for the end of the Direct Provision centres in Ireland and profoundly concerned about a very recent Death in Direct Provision: “is deeply traumatic… among people who escaped deeply traumatic experiences and have often experienced trauma on their migration journey.”
Trauma… that’s what’s being reported by Human Rights Watch too, on the outer edges of Europe where they describe Greek Island refugee camps, ill-prepared for COVID19: ‘Greek authorities have not done enough to address the acute overcrowding and lack of health care, access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene products to limit the spread of Covid-19 in camps for asylum seekers’. They call upon Greece’s government to ‘immediately take measures to… avert a public health crisis in environments where “Even handwashing and social distancing are impossible in these circumstances".'
In the Mediterranean Sea itself, the emergence of COVID19 is reported as being used as an excuse not to action the rescue of people in boats within Maltese and Italian Sea Action Rescue zones, leaving people to die of dehydration. Such fatal decisions make activists trying to save lives on the edges of Europe question why, for example, the International Office of Migration “seeks to criminalize so-called "irregular" migration instead of defending the rights of people on migration routes?" They conclude that COVID19 is being weaponised in defence of fortress Europe while the people on those migration routes continue to be UNABLE to do 1. or live in 2.
RAPAR didn’t know the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium before COVID19 but in practically no time our shared commitment to secure healthcare, housing and food for all has forged an indissoluble bond. Illustrating another example of how COVID19 is being weaponised, its coordinator Susan Cueva told us yesterday: "In the Philippines destitution and hunger are growing, especially in urban poor areas as the government’s lockdown measures mean thousands have lost their incomes with no effective measures of government support. President Duterte has ordered his military to shoot-to-kill protestors: on 21 April Winston Ragos, a retired resident in an urban poor area of Manila was shot dead on the spot by soldiers who claim he was violating the lockdown."
Similarly, messages to RAPAR members from family, friends and comrades around the world describe lives becoming evermore difficult in the shadow of COVID19. Alongside every documented worker in the UK whose pleas for PPE and competent testing mechanisms remain unanswered, and every migrant worker in, for example, Singapore who is now experiencing a new 'hard end' as COVID19 resurges there, our Members and our Networks - already in deep distress at the UK and Irish Governments’ blanket non-response, to date, to our call - are also experiencing layer-cake levels of insult: they are stacking on top of our injuries, that are on top of our compounded traumas, that are on top of our original traumas, and if it wasn’t for the knowledge that we will never give up, and therefore we will succeed, the State we’re in would defy description.
When we’re not pulling our hair out we’re scratching our heads at the managerial classes, as in those working to manage the pandemic on behalf of failing States. For example, there is a COVID19 policy google group fronted by the British Red Cross that composes the visible communication interface between the British Home Office and those organisations working in ‘migration’, particularly ‘asylum’ and invited to its network. This very morning the Refugee Council of Great Britain used this google group to tell workers in the sector that ‘the majority of the [Home Office] Statelessness Determination Team are now back up and running’…. The question is, where exactly are they running to?
Some musical salve?
It is one month today since RAPAR published its first response to the emergence of COVID19.
It is one month minus one day since its first public statement and press release called upon the State to suspend all detention and deportation activities, including legal processes, and invite all undocumented, displaced and destitute people, i.e. those most acutely vulnerable to COVID-19, to come forward for safe housing, without fear of being snatched or locked up, and so that they may contribute, openly, to making the population as safe as possible. This grounded the Open Letter Petition that anyone can sign here.
RAPAR Patron, Mark George Q.C. says: “The current health crisis has shown us all that when necessary governments take all sorts of action they would not normally consider taking. Now we need the government to take this important action to protect the health and welfare of everyone in our society.”
In the last 24 hours, RAPAR has been:
RAPAR Patron, Canon Professor Nicholas Sagovsky says: 'The Covid-19 crisis has shown us how reliant the NHS and carehomes are on people from many countries who have made Britain their home. Sadly, a growing number have given their lives caring for others. RAPAR is showing us that for many migrants, especially the undocumented, it is impossible to remain safe. This is not acceptable and must be changed.'
Over ten years ago, sitting in the garden of a house inside the Westminster village, a RAPAR member was in discussion with a Lord whose family had been vested with the title in the 1100’s. He observed “The ruling class have perfected the art of doing nothing. They grind you down by doing nothing.”
When people know that what they are doing - or failing to do - is both completely avoidable and deadly, they are committing crimes against humanity.
Today, I'm a part of you dear.