March in Manchester against DR Congo removals

Bishop Scott-Joynt: “It is not at present safe to return people to the DRC” 6th February 2009: Manchester is set to host a march on Saturday 7th February against deportations to the Republic of Congo (DRC).

Deporting failed asylum seekers to DRC was suspended as an inquiry was taking place to find out whether it was safe or not to return people to the country.

Last December the High Court ruled the deportations could resume.

Campaigners, who promise to continue fighting against the decision to deport failed asylum seekers to the DRC, say that is it is very dangerous to deport people to the country.

The organisers of the march say that “The courts have upheld the Home Office’s assertion that it is safe to return Congolese who came seeking asylum, to the Congo and arrests have already begun. When deporting people, the Home Office will hand over all documentation relating to the person’s appeal for asylum, to the Congolese government. Many fear arrest, torture and death, and previous Human Rights organisations have witnessed that this is likely to happen.”

Unfortunately there is no further legal recourse.

One of the Congolese who now risks deportation is Bilmi who has been living in the UK for seven years. Bilmi who has been unable to work and homeless for much of that time after her appeal for asylum was turned down, said it was better to be a destitute than be returned to the DRC, BBC reported.

Bilmi fled the country after becoming a target for opposing the Government. "I’ve been raped in the Congo, I’ve been tortured. The British government knows perfectly well what happens to people when you send them back to the Congo," she told BBC.

She wondered why people would seek refuge in the UK if DRC were safe. "If it was safe, why would people come here? I was studying law, I was in the biggest university in the country. And my father had a good position. I wouldn’t agree to come to a country where I can’t study, where I can’t work to earn my own money. I would have stayed if it was safe," she said.

The Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt who has been pressing the Home Office to reconsider the decision to return people to DRC has spoken in the House of Lords on behalf of Congolese asylum seekers and wants a moratorium on removals.

"Regardless of their immigration status, it is not at present safe to return people to the DRC. If we live in Britain it’s very hard to begin to imagine the utter lack of security there, what it’s like to live in a city where there are a lot of security forces that are under no kind of responsible political control," BBC quoted him to have said.

The Home Office, has, however, said that anyone who is in danger, is given protection and that for an efficient asylum system to work, they must be able to remove those whose cases fail.
People will march from All Saints Park on Saturday 7th February from noon.

The march is supported by Congo Action Group, Congo Support Project, NCADC, WAST, MCDAS, RAPAR, UDPS, APARECO, Bundu dia Kongo and many other organisations and associations.

You are invited to take part in the march to send a message to the Government of UK that they should not return failed seekers to the DRC, says the organisers.

Further details and directions: Telephone: 07960617309 Email: [email protected]

By Stephen Ogongo

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