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article imageIraq Refuses Entry to Asylum Seekers Deported from U.K.

By Chris Dade     Oct 16, 2009 in World
Iraqi officials refused entry to 30 asylum seekers, deported by the U.K government, who are now being held in a detention center near London Gatwick airport, having flown back to the U.K. via Italy.
After what INO confirms was the first deportation flight to Baghdad from the U.K. since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, only 10 of the 40 Iraqis who returned on Thursday to their homeland are now back in the country from which they had fled.
It appears that when the plane carrying the failed asylum seekers arrived at Baghdad airport, with as many as 100 U.K. security guards also aboard, Iraqi military officials insisted that any of the 40 men who were returning to Iraq against their will remain on the plane. Allegedly the officials told U.K. immigration officers that they should not try again to return people to Iraq against their will.
And, according to the Independent, the 10 men who did disembark from the plane were given $100 (£60) each by the British embassy in the Iraqi capital and then left to their own devices on the streets of a city where bomb blasts and violence have claimed the lives of dozens of civilians in recent weeks.
But it seems that even those now in Baghdad may not necessarily be there by choice, with at least one of them having reportedly expressed a desire to be back in the U.K.. The man, known simply as "K", has, says the Independent, spoken of how he and his compatriots were actually forced to leave the plane, although it is unclear who precisely it was that did the forcing.
Lin Homer is the chief executive of the UK Border Agency and she has confirmed that in the last three years 2,500 Iraqis have been repatriated to their homeland under the Assisted Voluntary Return Programme, noting that she expects more Iraqis to take advantage of the programme in due course.
Regarding the unsuccessful attempt at forced repatriation, which was condemned by charities working with refugees and human rights groups from around the world, Ms Homer, 52 and head of the agency formerly known as both the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and the Border and Immigration Agency since 2005, said:We are establishing a new route to southern Iraq and have successfully returned 10 Iraqis to the Baghdad area. This is an important first step for us. We are working closely with the Iraq government to iron out the issues which led to some of the returnees being sent back, and expect to carry out another flight in the future. Having an enforced route for returns is an important part of our overall approach; however the Government prefers the majority of returnees to leave voluntarily
The main concern of those who oppose the forced repatriation of Iraqis is that other countries playing host to Iraqi refugees will be encouraged to start deporting people back to a country in which the security situation is uncertain and could well be deteriorating.
Amnesty International, whose headquarters are in London, has protested at people being returned to a country which the Foreign Office website warns is "highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism".
Whist the charity Refugee and Migrant Justice, established in 1992 and the provider of legal services to asylum seekers and other migrants in the UK who do not have the ability to pay for legal advice, is claiming that the U.K. government is in breach of an EU directive which obliges it to protect those who have escaped "indiscriminate violence".
The charity's chief executive Caroline Slocock said of the actions of the authorities in the U.K:The Government should have waited and the fact that the destination or time of the flight was kept secret only makes things worse
Meanwhile the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal has supposedly asserted that anyone returning to Iraq is not in any danger.
More about Iraq, United Kingdom, Asylum seekers
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