March 10, 2021
From Autonomy News
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Two protesters have blockaded the Home Office in Cardiff this morning, holding the Immigration Authority to account on its treatment of refugees in the Penally camp in West Wales.

(Welsh version follows)

The Home Office has a duty of care to all those who arrive in the UK seeking sanctuary. People staying in the Penally ex-military training camp, run by Clearsprings on behalf of the Government, are experiencing:
– Lack of drinking water and hygienically prepared food;
– Failing plumbing and heating systems leading to cold and unsanitary conditions;
– Lack of access to phones and internet, meaning they cannot communicate with family or legal support;
– Overcrowded conditions, making it impossible to comply with Covid social distancing rules. *1
– No provision of health or mental health services
– inadequate provision of toilets and showers

When the accommodation was set up last autumn, First Minister Mark Drakeford made the statement “A military camp is not a suitable place to house people who have fled from conflict and war in other parts of the world.” “Wales is a nation of sanctuary. When there are people who, through no decision of their own, arrive in Wales, then we want to make sure that they are well looked after and welcomed.” *2 Or as a camp resident described it, “Now I’m in a camp with metal gates, and a fence all around with razor wire. I feel like an animal in a cage but we’re humans.”

We now understand that, rather than reducing numbers and eventually closing the camp, as announced by Immigration Minister Chris Philps in January * 3, the Home Office is sending even more refugees to this dysfunctional facility. Residents and volunteers risk prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for speaking out about the conditions. *4

One of the protesters, Lois Davis, explained: ‘Wales has a proud culture of welcoming guests. These people seek only the opportunity to live a normal life and contribute to our society. This is being denied to them by the Home Office, which prefers to keep them in a state of purgatory, not knowing if and when they can begin to study, work and get on with their lives. This further compounds the trauma they have been trying to escape.’

A similar camp in Kent at the Napier barracks had attracted widespread criticism, but more camps are planned. Both Penally and Napier barracks in Kent have been an unnecessary experiment in human suffering. Public Health England warned the Home Office that housing people in military barracks was inappropriate, but they went ahead anyway. *5

The second protester, Jenny Roberts, demanded ‘Penally Camp must be shut down immediately, and suitable accommodation and support provided to help new migrants integrate and become active citizens. Not to do this is a failure in the statutory duty on the part of the Home Office. This concept of using ex military camps to house refugees is a proven failure. No more camps!’

A number of voluntary groups are trying to support the refugees at Penally, including Camp Residents of Penally (CROP), BASE and Roses, Stand up to Racism, County of Sanctuary Pembrokeshire, Oasis and Croeso Teifi.

Protestwyr gwrth-hiliol yn blocedio’r Swyddfa Gartref yng Nghaerdydd oherwydd triniaeth annynol o ffoaduriaid mewn gwersyll milwrol Cymreig

Mae dau brotestiwr wedi blocedio’r Swyddfa Gartref yng Nghaerdydd fore heddiw, gan ddal yr Awdurdod Mewnfudo yn atebol am eu triniaeth o ffoaduriaid yng ngwersyll Penalun, Sir Benfro.

Mae gan y Swyddfa Gartref oblygiad o ofal i bawb sy’n cyrraedd y DU yn ceisio lloches. Mae preswylwyr cyn-wersyll hyfforddiant milwrol Penalun, a reolir gan Clearsprings ar ran y Llywodraeth, yn dioddef o:
-Diffyg dŵr yfed a bwyd a baratowyd mewn modd hylan;
-Plymwaith a systemau gwresogi methiedig gan arwain at amodau oer ac aflan;
-Diffyg mynediad i ffoniau a’r rhyngrwyd, gan olygu na allant gyfathrebu â theulu a chyngor cyfreithiol;
-Amodau gorboblog, gan wneud hi’n amhosib i ddilyn rheolau cadw pellter Covid *1 ;
-Dim darpariaeth o wasanaethau iechyd a iechyd meddyliol;
-Darpariaeth annigonol o doiledau a chawodydd.

Pan agorwyd y gwersyll hydref y llynedd, ddywedodd Prif Weinidog Mark Drakeford mewn datganiad:
“Nid yw gwersyll milwrol yn lle addas i gartrefu pobl sydd wedi dianc o wrthdaro a rhyfel mewn rhannau eraill o’r byd.” “[M]ae Cymru yn genedl noddfa. Pan fo pobl yn cyrraedd Cymru, nid trwy unrhyw benderfyniad ganddyn nhw eu hunain, yna rydym ni eisiau gwneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw’n derbyn gofal da ac yn cael eu croesawu.” *2 Neu, fel disgrifiwyd gan un o breswylwyr y gwersyll, “Rwyf nawr mewn gwersyll â gatiau metal, a ffens wifren bigog o’i gwmpas. Rwy’n teimlo fel anifail mewn caets ond rydym yn bobl.”

Yn hytrach na lleihau niferoedd a chau y gwersyll yn y pen draw, fel y cyhoeddwyd gan Weinidog Mewnfudo Chris Philps yn Ionawr *3, deallwn yn nawr fod y Swyddfa Gartref yn anfon mwy fyth o ffoaduriaid i’r ganolfan gamweithredol hon. Mae preswylwyr a gwirfoddolwyr mewn perygl erledigaeth o dan y Ddeddf Cyfrinachau Swyddogol am siarad allan am yr amodau.

Esboniodd Lois Davis, un o’r protestwyr: “Mae gan Gymru ddiwylliant balch o groesawu gwesteion. Mae’r bobl yma ond yn eisiau’r cyfle i fyw bywyd arferol a chyfrannu i’n cymdeithas. Gwrthodwyd hyn gan y Swyddfa Gartref, sy’n ei gweld hi’n well i’w cadw mewn cyflwr o burdan, heb iddynt wybod os neu pryd y gallant ddechrau astudio, gweithio a pharhau a’u bywydau. Mae hyn yn gwaethygu yn bellach y trawma maen nhw wedi bod yn ceisio ei ffoi.”

Mae gwersyll tebyg yn barics Napier, Sir Gaint wedi denu beirniadaeth eang, ond cynlluniwyd gwersylloedd pellach. Mae gwersylloedd Penalun a Napier ill dau yn arbrofion diangen mewn dioddefaint dynol. Rhybuddiodd Iechyd Cyhoeddus Lloegr fod cadw pobl mewn gwersylloedd milwrol yn anaddas, ond fe aethant rhagddynt beth bynnag. *4 *5

Mynnodd yr ail brotestiwr, Jenny Roberts: “Rhaid cau gwersyll Penalun ar unwaith, a darparu llefydd preswyl a chefnogaeth addas i helpu mudwyr newydd integreiddio a datblygu’n ddinasyddion llawn. Mae peidio â gwneud hyn yn fethiant o ran goblygiad statudol y Swyddfa Gartref. Mae’r cysyniad o ddefnyddio cyn-wersylloedd milwrol fel llefydd preswyl i ffoaduriaid wedi profi’n fethiant. Na i’r gwersylloedd!”

Mae nifer o grwpiau gwirfoddol yn ceisio cefnogi’r ffoaduriaid ym Mhenalun, gan gynnwys Camp Residents of Penally (CROP), BASE and Roses, Stand Up to Racism, County of Sanctuary Pembrokeshire, Oasis a Croeso Teifi.

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Source: Autonomynews.org