IOM – Complicit in Murder?

From Today’s Independent:

Sent back by Britain. Executed in Darfur

Failed asylum-seeker followed home from airport and shot by Sudan security officials

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

A failed asylum-seeker who returned to Darfur under a government repatriation scheme has been murdered by Sudanese security officers after they followed him home from the airport in Khartoum, The Independent has learnt.

Adam Osman Mohammed, 32, was gunned down in his home in front of his wife and four-year-old son just days after arriving in his village in south Darfur.

The case is to be used by asylum campaigners to counter Home Office attempts to lift the ban on the removal and deportation to Sudan of failed asylum-seekers. Next month, government lawyers are expected to go to court to argue that it is safe to return as many as 3,000 people to Khartoum.

But lawyers for the campaigners will tell the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that people who are returned to Sudan face imprisonment, torture and death. Mr Mohammed, a non-Arab Darfuri, came to Britain in 2005 seeking sanctuary from persecution in Sudan, where he said his life was in danger. The village where he was a farmer had been raided twice by the Janjaweed, the ethnic Arab militia, forcing him and his wife and child to flee their home.

His family in Britain told The Independent that Mr Mohammed witnessed many villagers being killed and became separated from his wife during a second attack on the village a few weeks later. He escaped to Chad before making his way to the UK in 2005.

But last year his appeal for asylum was finally turned down and he was told that he faced deportation. In August last year he was flown to Khartoum under the Home Office’s assisted voluntary return programme, in which refugees are paid to go back to their country of origin. He stayed in Khartoum for a few months and then, when he believed it was safe, he travelled to Darfur to be reunited with his family.

Bristol No Borders Writes : “Voluntary Return?”

Its clear no one in their right mind would return to Sudan voluntarily – unless yo had all means of financial support withdrawn an were forbidden to work – which is exactly what happenened to Adam Osman Mohammed –  and pretty much everyone else on the “Voluntary Return” programme.
The programmme is run  by the IOM – thats the International Organisation for Migration. But don’t be fooled by the name.
The IOM claims to assist migrants. Last year, it used Bristol Refugee Week to try sell a positive image of itself to refugees and asylum seekers and to the groups they work with. Our protests seem to have put them off returning this year. In reality their primary function is to help rich western governments meet their deportation targets, regardless of the very real dangers facing returning asylum seekers.

The IOM is currently targeting asylum seekers from Iraq, Zimbabwe and now Sudan stepping in with their ‘voluntary return programme’ at the point where the UK government withdraws even minimum financial support. Faced with the alternative of destitution, no access to healthcare and homelessness, several thousand Iraqis have already returned through VARRP, despite the IOM’s representative in Iraq admitting that “the situation for those returning is grim… many returnees are unemployed while only a fraction have received any form of humanitarian assistance other than some food rations.”

The IOM makes sure that it takes no responsibility for the returnees welfare after they arrive home. All participants in the scheme are asked to sign a waiver reading: “the IOM has no responsibility for me and my dependents once I return [to e.g. Iraqi territory] and I hereby release IOM from any liability in this respect.

Anyone participating in the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) is prohibited from returning to the UK for a minimum of five years. Those who pay their own airfare home and receive no assistance from the IOM are eligible to reapply in 12 months.

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