the United Nations (UN) has expressed reservations regarding the suitability of a UK military island proposed to house stranded migrants. The international body has raised humanitarian concerns and is calling for an urgent reevaluation of the facility’s conditions.
Dozens of Sri Lankan Tamils have been stranded for more than two years in a makeshift camp on Diego Garcia.
The UK government had previously announced plans to use a military island as a temporary holding facility for migrants attempting to reach the country.
The proposed military island, designed to serve as a processing center for migrants, has faced criticism for its potential impact on the well-being and rights of those awaiting asylum.
“The living conditions and treatment of migrants, particularly those seeking asylum, must align with international human rights standards. It is crucial to ensure that any facility, including the proposed military island, meets these requirements to safeguard the well-being and dignity of those seeking refuge,” states Sarah Thompson, spokesperson for the UNHCR.
“We continue to call on the UK to ensure fair and efficient determination of the pending claims, and to secure solutions for those found to be in need of international protection, in line with international law.”
Image from: BCC
People seeking safety have said life on the island is really hard, and their situation is stuck because of the island’s unusual legal status. Some have tried to hurt themselves, and there have been times when people, even kids, went without eating to protest.
One person told the BBC that living there feels like being dead. Lawyers who speak for those seeking asylum on Diego Garcia say around 60 people are still there, and some who tried to harm themselves were sent to Rwanda for help.
This is different from the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, which got approval in Parliament recently.
The lawyers say their clients, the people seeking asylum, have been waiting for over two years without a decision on their protection claims. They also say the living conditions on the island are really bad, especially for kids and those who survived torture and violence.
One of the lawyers, Tessa Gregory, said they’re trying to get permission to go to the island to help their clients. So far, only five people got approval for protection, but there’s no plan yet on where they will go.
The government says they are talking to other countries to find a safe place for those who can’t go back to their home countries. They also say they take any complaints of mistreatment seriously and investigate them fully.
Published: 19th Jan 2024
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