Monday 28th March 2022
Human rights charity RAPAR is calling on Manchester city council to explain why children seeking safety have not yet been allocated places in local schools.
RAPAR is demanding that the city council introduce a systematic approach with an accurate count of all the children of refugees living in hotels in the city, along with their ages, whether they have applied for schooling or not, and how long ago.
Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, said: "This should be happening In Manchester - and everywhere else too. It is a statutory responsibility, not an action to be undertaken by volunteers."
The children and their families are claiming asylum in the UK after escaping war and persecution - but they are stuck in temporary hotel accommodation because of inhumane and lengthy delays in the UK asylum and immigration system.
The city council is responsible for the education of children living in the Manchester hotels but many of them have already spent months out of school. The local authority is only now starting to respond to volunteers' deep concerns that children are missing their right to an education. It has been difficult for volunteers to establish how many children are living in the hotels and are not in school. But anecdotally it seems that many have been denied education for a long time.
The families are living in poverty so their children are confined to the hotel premises for most of the time. They have even set up their own classroom in a hotel car park, chalking images of trees, flowers and freedom on the ground.
Currently, the UK government is attempting to cut Britain adrift from the refugee convention that was created after World War II. The Nationality and Borders Bill, due to become law in the next few months, attacks established refugee protections and practices by criminalising people who have yet to attempt to reach the UK.
Dr Moran added: "It is not criminal to seek safety. It IS criminal to leave any child bereft of their schooling. Neither the government nor Manchester City Council can justify their failure to educate these children or their failure to publicly inform the people of both this country and this city that there are indigenous and refugee children waiting for school places in number. We want to know now how many children - both British and refugee - are being denied their human right to education so that we can be directly involved in ending this travesty of children's rights."
The children's physical and mental health is also affected because they have little opportunity to use their creative and physical energies. RAPAR is insisting that the city council, as the education authority responsible, must clarify how many children have been failed in this way, why it is happening and when they will all be allocated school places.
Parents became so concerned about the lack of help in finding schools for their children that they obtained and completed school admission forms with the assistance of supporters. These forms are now with the city council.
Chris Thomas, Founder and President of Football For Humanity, has welcomed children and parents to the weekly football sessions he has organised at a Manchester sports centre.
He said: "Play and education are every child's right. It is a fundamental part of their childhood where memories are made. We must do all we can to ensure children's rights are promoted and defended. While the children wait for their rights to be respected, Football for Humanity and RAPAR have created a safe space where children and families can play football, learn and grow together."
“When people are driven from their homes in the most desperate of circumstances, we must always stand with them and provide sanctuary.” - Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
“The threat to force boats in the English Channel to turn back puts already vulnerable people at even greater risk… The whole idea smacks of political posturing.” - Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale and one of the first Parliamentarians amplifying the calls for #StatusNow4All
RAPAR began when young Afghan men were dispersed to Greater Manchester in 2001. Twenty years later, and the scenes from Afghanistan and from the boats in the English Channel carrying people from there, alongside other countries, tell us that there are many, many lessons that remain unlearned.
The racist xenophobia underpinning all, including the latest, refugee-rejection manoeuvre by the Home Office - this time declaring that they will use governments powers to command workers to turn back boats carrying refugee people - is always, and only, about attempting to ferment division, and thereby rule, everyone on this side of the English Channel.
In response to this latest government announcement Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and supporter of RAPAR’s work over many years says:
“This country has a long and proud history of welcoming those fleeing conflict and persecution. Our rich and diverse society would be considerably poorer were it not for the contribution of refugees and immigrants.
However, this Government appears intent on pursuing a deeply hostile and unpleasant attack on refugees and asylum seekers who have fled their home and sought safety on our shores. When people are driven from their homes in the most desperate of circumstances, we must always stand with them and provide sanctuary. I'm appalled at this new policy which puts the lives of migrants and refugees at risk and hope it is urgently reconsidered."
This sentiment is echoed by the Immigration Services Union (ISU) who immediately rejected the government proposal, which Free Movement has quickly specified would:
‘replace binding international legal obligations with a small, bespoke, national scheme that gives preference to refugees from one country over others and where selection is based on connection to the host country rather than vulnerability. Like the international aid target, it could be scrapped on a whim.'
Only collective action that becomes international in character and composition will stop the human rights violations that are being conducted in the name of the people of the UK. This is why RAPAR is part of a wider campaigns across the UK and Ireland, including StatusNow4All which is dedicated to securing the safety of everyone currently on British soil, including those who have followed in the footsteps of Abdullah making deeply treacherous journeys over so many years in their bid to reach safety.
This afternoon Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale and one of the first Parliamentarians amplifying the calls for #StatusNow4All of which RAPAR is a founding signatory, observes:
“We should all work to put a stop to the work of the people traffickers who have no conscience in putting lives at risk. But the threat to force boats in the English Channel to turn back puts already vulnerable people at even greater risk. In practice, it would place a heavy burden on the captains of the British vessels involved to make potentially life-threatening decisions. The whole idea smacks of political posturing when what is needed is building cooperation with the French authorities to weaken the traffickers as well as making available safe routes so that desperate people aren’t thrown into the traffickers’ hands.”
 XENOPHOBIA | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
 Channel crossings: Migrant boats could be turned back in new UK move - BBC News
 Patel’s plans to send migrant boats back to France ‘dead in water’, union says | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian
 Even as Afghans are resettled, refugee protection is under attack - Free Movement
 Status Now 4 All - 'Indefinite Leave To Remain' for people who are undocumented, destitute, and those in the legal process #HealthAndSafetyForAll
We have not brought you a RAPAR update for a little while now, but we continue to be very busy doing what RAPAR does best: challenging the State and the State’s institutions on human rights violations and humanity-denying actions, and campaigning for human rights for all.
The #StatusNow4All campaign and the Status Now Network (SNN) initiated by RAPAR continues to grow and the call for Status Now for everyone has been signed by over 125 organisations and counting, and the online petition is nearing 5000 signatures from individuals. Check the SNN website for more detail and follow us on twitter and facebook.
Inside of RAPAR, our mental health, housing, women’s, and men’s campaigning groups are meeting frequently and instigating their own awareness-raising and change-making campaigns as we speak. RAPAR’s research now includes two European Union funded, Erasmus+ youth projects, the just finished Big Lottery funded Building Resilience project (see below), and ongoing research with the women’s group.
Cats on the Run
This week saw the much-anticipated launch of RAPAR’s Cats on the Run, a project that aimed to highlight the struggle that displaced, undocumented people face during the pandemic. The idea was conceived by RAPAR and created by Sheba Arts, a women-led arts collective in Manchester, and funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation.
After numerous accounts of the atrocities that displaced people face upon their migration, particularly at the hands of human traffickers, it tells of the destitution, street homelessness, lack of access to healthcare, and other deplorable situations that displaced people find themselves in once they arrive in the UK. One participant, who had been street homeless throughout the winter, tells of the difficulties he had accessing healthcare at a hospital because he had no ID card or legal status in the UK. Another participant asks the poignant question: “If this pandemic has been hard for those with access to everything, imagine how hard it has been for me”.
Cats on the Run launched on Wednesday the 9th of June with attendees from multiple charities and locations, and several speeches. RAPAR’s own Rhetta Moran gave a speech in which she celebrated the ‘terrible beauty’ of what had been created, criticising the situation which makes it easy for RAPAR to find 22 people (including two babies) in destitution in the UK. She said:
When I thought about talking today about this project Cats on the Run, a phrase kept on coming into my mind. It’s an ambiguous phrase that was composed by the poet WB Yeats when he wrote the poem ‘Easter 1916’, about the revolutionary uprising against British imperialism that began in Dublin on the Easter Sunday of 1916. The refrain of his poem is “a terrible beauty is born.” “A terrible beauty is born.”
This film that we have all just watched – what I see is terrible beauty. Terrible, because no one, not in Manchester, not in the UK, not anywhere in the world, should be experiencing what the two men in our film have just revealed to us. (Rhetta Moran)
Rhetta also noted the collective spirit that had arisen to produce this powerful piece of documentary, and closed with a profound quote from Shade Alonge that highlighted the quite unnoticed fact that the people who donated so much of their time, effort and resources to those left behind by the pandemic are now themselves facing destitution.
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. (Shade Alonge)
These people should not go unnoticed or unhelped.
Building networks of resilience
This week also saw the publication of the Building Resilience project report, written by Grainne McMahon, Rhetta Moran and Sunitha Dwarakanath (McMahon et al, 2021). The work, a collaboration between RAPAR, Migrant Voice and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, aimed to understand, quantitatively and qualitatively, the effect of Covid 19 and lockdowns on marginalised communities in the UK. The report, which was recently referenced on iNews and Sky News, sets out the learnings from a survey and interviews, and an evaluation of building community networks of resilience, to explore and understand how resilience is released and developed, and inhibited because of the UK’s hostile environment, within the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Both of these projects illustrate that RAPAR continues to be at the forefront of insightful, practical research as well as explorative, creative campaigns around human rights, and we are extremely grateful that we participate in such a strong and passionate community of like-minded organisations and individuals.
"The syndemic nature of the threat we face demands that we not only treat each affliction, but also urgently address the underlying social inequalities that shape them— poverty, housing, education, and race, which are all powerful determinants of health.”
Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet (13th November 2020)
It’s Friday 13th March 2020. I watch the woman, around 60 like me, reach for a clear plastic bag of five tomatoes. Just moments before, my bare right hand placed it on the conveyor belt and now, her bare left hand lifts it towards the scales at her workstation. Tapping in her record of its value, she picks the bag up again, bare right hand this time, and sets it down before me.
Suddenly, back with a vengeance, an unnameable feeling that first coursed through me last night as I listened to the Prime Minister on TV, now joined by the sound of a sample from a February 2020 radio broadcast that’s starting up inside my head: “There’s been a sudden global stock market crash”, spoken in received pronunciation. It goes on repeat: “the global stock market crash… the global stock market crash”, the soundtrack of a flickering, mind’s eye film starring the hand shadows of every person from every stage of every process that created this bag of tomatoes. Zooming in and out, one after the other, all those hands before ours, the hands of we two women on either side of this counter. What was it he said last night? “It is still vital, perhaps more vital than ever – that we remember to wash our hands.”
I shiver, refocus my eyes to see hers, smile, extend my hand towards the bag and mouth ‘Thank you’. My Covid19 matrix has begun.
Walking in the front door with the shopping and, like me, my 20-something son who’s living back at home and just starting a new, very short term, contract, is thinking about last night’s TV broadcast: “Should I meet some mates? A pint and a game of pool after this shift?”
“Wear gloves,” is the best I can offer.
Fast forward seven months to last Friday, 13th November 2020. The Lancet published a study by Global Burden of Disease(GBD) explaining why Covid19 is a syn- not a pan-demic: that is, it’s an interaction between coronavirus infection and a number of non-communicable diseases like heart attacks and stroke, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and diabetes. The critical fact though, is that more than three quarters of deaths from these diseases, 32 million deaths globally, occur where there is poverty and inequality, i.e. in low- and middle-income countries. As the Lancet Editorial made crystal clear, communities will not be protected from future infectious outbreaks and population health will not achieve gains unless deep, structural inequalities are tackled.
GBD’s scientific study confirms what the Economic Policy Unit first argued on June 1st: THIS IS A SYNDEMIC. On the 4th October 2020, when Prime Minister Johnson claimed our obesity is very important for explaining Covid rates he missed out the most important bit, most simply put by the editor-in-chief of The Lancet: “The syndemic nature of the threat we face demands that we not only treat each affliction, but also urgently address the underlying social inequalities that shape them—poverty, housing, education, and race, which are all powerful determinants of health.”
On 27th March 2020, 14 days after the Prime Minister told us to wash our hands, organisations representing people without status and their allies - including the BFAWU – began the Status Now For All Network calling for access to health, housing and food for ALL. As soon as the first lockdown was announced , our knowledge compelled us to begin to become visible so that Network members can communicate safely. This is people like Mercy Baguma, with barely enough money to eat, homeless or living in very overcrowded accommodation, not accessing medical help for fear of detention or deportation and working jobs under the radar, without any protection, even without wages, or basic health and safety.
Through Solidarity, all of us become part of the solution: moving forward so that EVERYONE can become safe and able to look after each other.
Last Friday, Kamran Abbasi of the British Medical Journal summed it up: “the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency”.
By Rhetta Moran
 Syndemic: A blend of the words Synergy, from Ancient Greek συνεργία (sunergía, “cooperation”), from σύν (sún, “with, together”) + ἔργον (érgon, “work”) and demic, from the Greek word demos, or “people”..[https://www.wiley.com/en-gb/Introduction+to+Syndemics:+A+Critical+Systems+Approach+to+Public+and+Community+Health-p-9780470472033]
 Matrix: the set of conditions that provides a system in which something grows or develops https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/matrix
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.
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
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.