MP vows to help women held in detention centre

By Henry Ellis in Politics

EDMONTON MP Kate Osamor has vowed to fight the corner of women being held at an immigration detention centre.

She led a debate yesterday on the state of healthcare provided to women waiting to learn if they face deportation at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, in Bedfordshire.

The centre came under fire from HM Inspectorate of Prisons in August following a snap inspection in April. Pressure group Women for Refugee Women and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have both criticised medical care at Yarl’s Wood.

Medical Justice, a small UK charity which specialises in giving asylum seekers the chance to be examined by independent doctors, was told that access to patients at Yarl’s Wood would be restricted.

Ms Osamor used the debate at Westminster Hall to highlight the need for more staff and extra counselling to be made available.

She also called on the government to abide by detention centre rules which state that no-one who has been tortured, or whose health is likely to suffer if they are held, should be detained. She said: “The situation has worsened since 2014.

All detainees must have all the same services as the general public. Access to healthcare is a human right. “There are also huge concerns about staffing levels.

They are too low and this has direct links to healthcare.” Following the debate, she added: “I wanted to lead this debate after visiting Yarl’s Wood and meeting women who told me the worst thing about the centre was healthcare.

“We are the only country in the EU who do not have a time limit on detention. This is appalling. Studies show detention has a lasting, damaging effect on the mental health of detainees and the government needs to be doing more to address this.”

No one at G4S, which provides healthcare at Yarl’s Wood, was available for comment by the time the Gazette went to press.

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