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.
For any Government to call itself Democratic it must be prepared to
Furthermore, however much time is available, fear inhibits learning (see esp. page 16) and so, at this juncture, let’s remember and reflect on Marie Curie’s words:
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Maybe Marie can help us to work out how we can minimise fear and maximise #healthandsafetyforall.
The ‘hostile environment’* was up and running long before ‘COVID19’ developed. And the Institutionalised Racism upon which the Hostile Environment rests was identified half a century ago.
Yesterday, the New York Times carried a quote about this very issue from Professor Aneez Esmail. He is the leader of our campaign for the Registration of Medical Professionals in the UK and you can read Professor Esmail’s comment, following the publication of that NY Times article, here.
Hostility breeds fear: that’s exactly what it is intended to do. How much fear is out there? And how quickly can the people and organisations who reject both institutionalised racism and the hostile environment learn?
People who are Destitute + Documented + in the UK = DDUK = People…
who are denied the right to work legally and who the Government knows are in the UK, somewhere. The Government knows they are in the UK somewhere because they are either:
Are you Destitute and Undocumented in the UK (DUUK)?
People who are Destitute + Undocumented + in UK = DUUK = British People and Anyone Else…
who has no address, which means that the Government does not know exactly where they are right now, there is no lawyer currently on their case, and/or they don't have paper 'proofs' about who they are, like birth certificates or household bills. If they are not British they have also been denied the right to work legally. All of them have fallen through the cracks of either:
“With Covid19 our situation has worsened. Some cases have been suspended altogether, and people cannot meet their lawyers to discuss issues relating to their cases. They are hoping for their cases to be treated and to be given the freedom they deserve but they are not getting this. They live with friends who are sharing their shelter with them or through charitable hosts set up to help destitute people. Essentially, they are living with people who were strangers to them before they became destitute and who have offered them places to stay.
Very few people seeking asylum have phones and the few who do are unable to top up their phones so it is even more difficult for them to connect with their support networks. Some have laptops but cannot gain access to wifi. This has greatly slowed down the support and advocacy activities the people had developed within our communities. It is a trying moment for most of us because we have no way of getting any money to buy top ups or wifi connection. Practically all the organisations that used to support us with bus fees to travel to get their food, or join in on their events, have now been closed down and, in fact, accessing food has become a very big problem.
Many of the charitable organisations that people knew, that used to provide food or help us with food banks weekly, they are closed. Worst of all is the fact that some people are on the verge of being thrown out of their homes and it will be even more difficult for them to survive on the street.”
On Easter Sunday, RAPAR member Mary, Destitute and Undocumented in the UK, DUUK, sent this photo and writing:
“RAPAR gave me good encouragement the other day, by saying to stay strong because the next day one of the lady that I work with she text me to come as she was missing seeing somebody. Then I call her she was crying as she was having some problem and I remember RAPAR said to be strong. So I had to be strong for other people and she was happy when she saw me she gave me food and some money. I keep remembering what you said. We have to be strong for each other. Some days I feel a bit low but I keep remembering what you said to me. Before this, I worked in a shop in xxx. Then I did caring and now I am working in family homes. I wasn't interested in working in people's home but out of it good came. I met good people who understand my situation and are helping me.”
For almost 20 years, since it first began to systematically evict people failed by the migration system into destitution the British State has stoked a fire. But, thankfully, no human being is an island, including the human beings who live in countries that also happen to be islands. A ‘fog of war’*** surrounds us ALL. With each other’s help, can we clear our vision sufficiently to enable ourselves and each other to think out loud, reach rational decisions together and act accordingly?
At this juncture, the only actions that are any use are those based in truthful information: concrete and real, coming from comprehensive, accurate, valid and reliable information sources that are as near to ‘objective’ reality as possible i.e. not intrinsically biased because of the way in which their ‘facts’ have been created.
In the 1990’s, Patricia Hill Collins explained to us : 'For any body of knowledge, new knowledge claims must be consistent with an existing body of knowledge that the group controlling the interpretive context accepts as true.’ She went on to say, ‘The methods used to validate knowledge claims must be acceptable to the group controlling the knowledge validation process.' Her truth invites us to walk in the footsteps of the sociolinquistic theorist Volosinov, who developed a theory of 'language creation from below'. We’ll come back, another day, to retrace those footsteps but, in the meantime, here’s a pdf of his book .
On Easter Sunday, one mainstream press article advised us, statistics wise, about what can we trust and what should we ignore. It began with the assertion that statistics about ‘the number of people who have actually become infected… depend[s] crucially on the testing regime.’
Of course, it’s a massive challenge to decide what to publish on the internet but, if it’s going to be of real use for the overwhelming majority of people, then whatever is published must be precise.
In a Journal of Advanced Nursing website blog about problems with the government lockdown, its first point ‘There might be a real increase in cases but there is a form of categorization occurring in the NHS where deaths with the non-specific symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 (the presumed viral agent)(Covid19 is the disease) are being attributed to SARS-CoV-2 without serological or laboratory (tissue culture) confirmation.’ prompts many questions. As does its third point: The tests for Covid19 are not yet calibrated to different populations like those without symptoms. ‘Died after testing positive for Covid19’ (what we hear daily in the media) is not the same as ‘died due to Covid19’ which is an evidence-based statement of disease causation. This Easter Rising blog began with a Clinical Governance-based reference to how organisations learn. Just in is this early release (due out May 2020) paper from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention about Emerging Infectious Diseases. Public Health England, the UK Department of Health and the medical Royal Colleges must take the time to respond to all the points being raised through these scientific critiques from JAN and CDC.
And while we’re on the subject of timely responses…
As yet, the Office of the UK Prime Minister has neither acknowledged, nor responded to our Open Letter sent to Downing Street on 27th March and now platformed as a petition for anyone to sign. The Office of the Irish Taoiseach has advised us that he referred our letter to the Minister for Justice and Equality , but that Minister received his own copy of our Open letter at the same time as the Taoiseach and, like Number 10, his Office hasn’t responded, as yet.
It isn’t the first time: See Channel 4 in the spring of 2016 in News from Calais.
While we wait, and rest assured we’re not holding our breath, our Filipino Sisters and Brothers are preparing shrines to honour their dead, and our Congolese Sisters and Brothers who continue to mourn their deaths, are also asserting are lives.
For any Government to call itself Democratic it must be prepared to subject itself to scrutiny, hold itself to account and engage with its population, whether they are ‘Citizens’ or not.
For those of you who’ve arrived here… we hope you enjoy this.
*Moran RA, (2003). Clinical Governance: An International Journal. Volume 8 Number 1 pp. 46-56
**Also see Forthcoming, McMahon G. and Moran R.A. (2020) Young people seeking asylum: voice and activism in a ‘hostile environment’. In Young people’s participation, Revisiting youth and inequalities, editors, Maria Bruselius-Jensen, Ilaria Pitti and Kay Tisda. Bristol, Policy Press
***According to Wikipedia, the first known use of the exact phrase "fog of war" in text only dates to 1896, described as "the state of ignorance in which commanders frequently find themselves as regards the real strength and position, not only of their foes, but also of their friends." “The fog of war” by Col. Lonsdale Hale, Royal Engineers (retired), Aldershot Military Academy, March 24, 1896.
Susan Cueva is from the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium that supports vulnerable Filipino migrant people. She says: “We are aware that there are many undocumented workers in the UK who are in this situation. They have lost their jobs due to the lockdown and are ineligible for government support. They often live in crowded conditions with other undocumented workers and they are too scared to go to a doctor or hospital.”
Today, in partnership with RAPAR, the Consortium has followed up contact with several of the 60 MPs who are reported in both the Edinburgh News
and the Guardian as having written to the Home Secretary. The MP's have requested that foreign nationals working in the NHS be granted indefinite leave to remain. Writing directly to the MP’s and to other political figures who they know, the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium has asked for support in extending this request to all undocumented and destitute people living in the UK and Ireland. They ask the politicians to sign the Open Letter Petition, dating from 27th March, so that “all people, irrespective of status, are extended human rights and offered hope and solidarity during this extraordinary period in the history of humanity.”
And also today, the day after Elvis died, Doctors of the World have been at the forefront of launching an open letter to the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling for the immediate suspension of NHS Charging Regulations.
For more information contact:
Kath Grant, RAPAR Press Officer, 07758386208/ kath.northernstories(at)gmail.com
Dr Rhetta Moran, RAPAR Chair of Trustees, 07776264646/ rhetta.moran(at)rapar.org.uk