Search
  • YWB

Twenty Years: Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre: nothing to celebrate.



It is twenty years today since Yarls Wood IRC opened on the MOD site in rural Bedfordshire and twenty years since our small charity started offering support to the people held there.


This is nothing to celebrate.


Twenty years of the Home Office not finding a better solution to locking people up and criminalising people who only hope for a better future for their families or who have fled persecution and abuse. Twenty years of people being held indefinitely for crimes as simple as trying to work, of trying to find a better life where land, weather, crops, economies and governments have failed.


Originally heralded by Ian Boon, the immigration boss at the time, as "a place to hold refugees for two weeks until a decision had been taken either to grant them permanent UK residency or fly them home from Luton Airport", Yarl's Wood IRC became a place where women, children and families were held, in this prison like environment, for months and indeed years while the Home Office considered their case. Britain is the only country in Europe that holds people indefinitely in immigration detention and our small charity has helped people who have been held there for up to 4 years.


Yarl's Wood IRC has changed. It no longer holds pregnant women or families and in theory should no longer hold children. Instead, it now holds up to 50 women and will hold up to 330 men under IRC powers. But it is no less a place of shattered dreams and corridors which echo the sobs of broken families and the trauma of tormented memories of trafficked lives and the horrors of violence against humanity.


Yarl's Wood IRC is the centre where people come fresh from our shores, from our ports and from the communities of Britain. It is still a centre that holds and processes people often without the time to hear their voices and truly understand their stories. Where people are met with dis-trust and their experiences are deliberately disbelieved.


We should be ashamed of these 20 years of Yarl's Wood IRC. We should be ashamed of the Home Office's approach to people in desperate need who, instead of being treated with kindness and compassion by this country, are treated as criminals, and locked, indefinitely, behind the doors of Yarl's Wood IRC.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All