Press Release: Office of Jean Lambert MEP

2nd April 2007

 

IRAQI ASYLUM SEEKERS FORCED TO LEAVE THROUGH 'VOLUNTARY RETURNS PROGRAMME'
Green MEP Demands Government Changes On Deportation


Widespread violence and devastation across Iraq has displaced and forced nearly 4 million people to leave the country as refugees since 2003 yet the UK Government has continued to send many of those seeking safety in the UK back to an uncertain and often dangerous future. Green Euro MP Jean Lambert has today demanded an end to this inhumane treatment and called on the Government to stop the deportation of Kurdish asylum seekers.

As the northern part of Iraq, Kurdistan is suffering from the direct effects of war in the rest of the country as well as being littered with mines that injure and kill people. Jean Lambert, who has been awarded for her work on Justice and Human Rights, joined with the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) in their appeal to the Home Office and Members of Parliament.

Jean commented; "The violence in Iraq that has destroyed the lives of so many people continues, yet the UK Government has insisted on deporting Kurdish asylum seekers back to this dangerous country, even using the so-called 'Voluntary Return Programme' as a tool.

"Those who have left face a politically dangerous situation on their return where human rights are violated on a daily basis. Large numbers of displaced people there do not have permanent homes, jobs, decent living conditions or access to basic public services and support to start their lives again. Returnees can further destabilize the situation.

"The Home Office has already arrested and deported over 80 Iraqi asylum seekers and has started to cut funds available for those left in the UK. We are seeing similar action against people from Zimbabwe and other countries still in conflict. Such actions do not solve the problem but simply force asylum seekers in to depression, destitution and often sleeping rough.

"It is time to stop the deportation of these asylum seekers, reopen the cases of those whose files have been closed and find dignified, humane solutions for those currently caught in limbo."

ENDS

For more information please contact:
Morwenna Holland, Media Officer
tel: 020 7407 6280 or 07813149812
email: media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk
www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk

Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.