News from the detention centres: 6.03.2023 – 22.03.2023

 – About ten days ago, several detainees reported a collective flight to the DRC. In the following days, contact with these people was very limited and several phones were on voice mail. 
– The social workers, also known as “accompaniers to return”, are increasingly encouraging detainees to return voluntarily. Some people break down after many months in detention. 
-With a view to Ramadan, many transfers take place in the centres. Detainees doing Ramadan are put together in separate wings. They are allowed a microwave and a fridge.
– Some people who have been in detention for many months say that there is a high turnover in the centres, meaning many deportations : “we called 3 of them today from the office, then we never saw them again.  Security comes to empty their cupboard and they don’t come back. So we understand that they are at the airport. “
– In Merksplas, the disappearance of a billiard ball led to a strip search of the detainees: “A billiard ball had disappeared: this morning all the cupboards were searched and body searches were carried out. Everyone is naked and we can’t play billiards anymore”.
– In the Merkplas centre, the detainees have taken in 3 small cats which they feed and say that they are ‘undocumented’ cats. 
– Many detainees suffer from serious mental health problems and do not receive adequate care: “There are mentally ill people here: they don’t belong here, they need to be treated, some of them talk to themselves, some of them cry all the time; they need care, they are very bad”.
– One person reports that he was put in solitary confinement for 48 hours, on the grounds that he is considered a ” leader “: ” It’s undignified, locked up like dogs, like a tiger in a cage “.
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