Enforced Removal (Families with Young Children)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:17 am on 10th January 2006.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 11:17 am, 10th January 2006

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, and I agree with him. There is a campaign surrounding that case, and I support the family and the campaign, as I am sure he does. They are not the only family and theirs is not the only case; there are others who unfortunately do not have the benefit of campaigns to support them. It is heartless, cruel and unfair to remove from this country, children who have known nothing other than being born and brought up here. It is damaging to them—and, as I said earlier, to other children. The scheme in the north-west is a pilot, and I would be grateful if the Minister said something about its progress and whether it will end or be extended.

My final general point—I know that other hon. Members want to speak—concerns countries to which families with children are deported. After an assertive campaign the Government finally stopped all deportations to Zimbabwe, and I understand that that is the current situation. My constituency includes people from all parts of the world, and I am particularly concerned about two countries to which removals take place. The first is Congo and the second is Somalia.

The war in Congo has had less coverage than almost any other conflict anywhere in the world, yet 3 million people have died there in the past decade. That is a level of casualties on a par with the first world war. Congo has a transitional Government, but the war is clearly continuing, particularly in the east of the country. There is a collapse of civil society and of any supportive environment, and it is impossible to follow what happens to any individual family that returns to Congo. I hope that the Minister recognises that it cannot be fair, right or just to deport anyone to Congo until there is some measure of peace there. Taking a child out of a school in Britain and dropping them in Congo with no follow-up whatever cannot be right, fair or just.

Likewise, there is continuing grave instability in Mogadishu in south Somalia. I am not clear whether there are removals to Somalia and I would be grateful if the Minister could resolve that question one way or the other. I have objected when removals have been threatened against my constituents, but I am not clear whether there is a policy on that.

My last point is about following up what happens to those who are removed from this country. The Home Office has its own in-country assessment unit, the Foreign Office makes a diplomatic assessment of the situation in any one country, and Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and a number of other organisations make their own assessments of what goes on in various countries. Except in Kosovo, to which my hon. Friends the Members for Sunderland, South and for Walthamstow referred, I am not aware of any adequate follow-up in any other country when removals take place.

If someone has sought safety or asylum in this country and the application fails, for whatever reason, or a human rights application fails, for whatever reason, and a family is deported, we have at least a moral responsibility to ensure that they are in some degree of safety when they return to their society. If children who are growing up and attending school in this country are suddenly removed to a place of great danger, they deserve at least to be monitored so that we can try to help them and perhaps review deportation policy in specific cases. The way in which children are treated in many parts of the world is appalling and terrible. We contribute to much of that if we take children away from a place of safety in this country to a place of danger, and then pretend that it has nothing to do with us after that. It has everything to do with us, and my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South has done the House a service in securing this debate.