Iraq Refugees Coralled As Home Office Asylum Net Widens

Iraq refugees coralled as Home Office asylum net widens

Owen Bowcott
Wednesday June 11 2008

A security guard walks around the long-term wing at the Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/PA

More than 60 failed asylum seekers from Iraq have been rounded up by the UK Borders Agency in the past few days under what appears to be an accelerated programme of forced deportations.

Several of those detained are from outside the relatively peaceful Kurdish-controlled north of the country, suggesting that the Home Office is widening the net for those falling foul of immigration regulations.

The refugees, all men, are being held at immigration detention centres across the UK and will be deported before the end of the month.

Previous deportees have all come from areas controlled by the Kurdish regional government (KRG), which the Home Office deemed safe enough for the refugees to return. But among those waiting deportation in the latest group are a man from Baghdad and two others from the city of Kirkuk.

The Home Office insisted that those being returned had strong connections to the Kurdish area. A statement said that of 64 people detained, it was satisfied all had either lived in the KRG all their life or had, at least, moved there at a very young age.

One of the men due to be put on a plane back to Iraq is awaiting the birth of his first child. Another was so desperate to flee northern Iraq that he smuggled himself back into the UK a year after first being deported; he was subsequently re-arrested.

This article was amended on Thursday July 12 2008. In error the words “moved there at a very young age” had been put in quotation marks. These were removed.