British migrant detention centers are unbearable during heat wave

Extreme heat has descended on Britain and thousands of migrants are being detained in "unbearable" conditions in holding facilities as they await either asylum or deportation.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
British migrant detention centers are unbearable during heat wave - NewsMavens
IRC Harmondsworth, Google street view

Why this story matters:

WikiTribune reveals that rocketing temperatures and poor ventilation are leading to “unbearable” conditions for detainees in immigration detention centers across the UK, as a recent heatwave reached rare temperatures of up to 37C.

In cramped facilities like Harmondsworth, a detention center near Heathrow airport with a capacity for more than 600 people, detainees are finding it hard to stay at comfortable temperatures.

Windows don’t open, there is no air-conditioning, rooms have too many beds, and detainees are provided limited outdoor time to deal with the heat properly, said charities that regularly visit people confined in detention centres.

One representative even went so far to say that the old, prison-like conditions are making things worse for inmates.

“When we spoke to some people they said it was an ‘absolute sauna,’" said Maddy Crowther, co-executive director of Waging Peace, a human rights organization that supports Sudanese refugees in detention in the UK.

“If people are going to be held, they should be held in conditions that are humane and comfortable.”

Details from the story:

  • Detention centers across the UK are "unbearable" as the UK endures its third month of record-high temperatures.
  • Some detainees were resorting to "stripping off" in the courtyard to cool down, charities said.
  • Advocates for reform of the detention system, which detains immigrants with uncertain migration status without a time limit, say conditions aren't adequate in extreme weather.
  • In winter, conditions are "shocking", with detainees struggling to stay warm and going without appropriate clothing and resources.
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