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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Yarl's Wood women 'hunger strike'
Yarl's Wood detention centre
Yarl's Wood was built to house up to 405 detainees
More than 30 female detainees at the UK's largest immigration removal centre are on hunger strike, supporters say.

Legal Action for Women says the Ugandan women want their asylum claims to be reconsidered. They are also protesting over conditions at Yarl's Wood.

The centre in Bedfordshire was built to house 405 detainees, including failed asylum seekers and their families.

A Home Office spokesman told BBC News no inmates had informed centre staff they were refusing food as a protest.

'No complaints'

There had been no complaints to back up the allegations the women were making, the spokesman added.

"The behaviour of anyone who declines a meal is watched closely," he said.

Earlier this month, 55 Zimbabwean asylum seekers protesting at forced deportations "temporarily suspended" their hunger strike pending a High Court hearing on 4 August.

The Ugandan women's statement complains about the treatment of detainees and the behaviour of some staff at Yarl's Wood.

Zahrieh and Navid Rahimi Larki
The room was very small - like a cage - and he is very active
Zahrieh Rahimi Larki
former Yarl's Wood detainee

A number of the women are HIV positive, the statement says, but goes on to attack the level of health provision for detainees.

"There is no urgency about making sure we are getting the help we need," it says.

They also attack the quality of the food they are provided with.

'Great danger'

The statement also says the women's lives will be in "great danger" if they are deported to Uganda.

A spokesman for Yarl's Wood told BBC News 11 women were being monitored after refusing to eat specific meals, but it was not unusual for inmates to miss some of the three meals a day offered at the centre.

"Everybody's needs are taken care of and there is no question of people not being looked after properly."

There are several medical professionals on site
Yarl's Wood

The "thorough training" of staff put "huge emphasis" on the fact there would be "no tolerance of inappropriate language or behaviour amongst themselves or towards detainees", the spokesman added.

Staff behaved professionally despite having to "deal with very challenging behaviour from detainees who do not have to abide the same code of conduct".

Detainees were "seen by a healthcare professional on admission", the spokesman added.

Yarl's Wood on fire
A fire and riot destroyed half of the 100m asylum centre

"Urgent health issues are dealt with by the emergency services.

"There are several medical professionals on site."

Yarl's Wood is run by a private company, GSL UK Ltd.

Corporate communications director John Bates told BBC News two out of every three detainees asked had said staff treated them with respect.

Yarl's Wood 'lessons not learnt'
13 Feb 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Yarl's Wood future under review
08 Feb 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
New Yarl's Wood concerns raised
19 Jun 04 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Yarl's Wood public inquiry turned down
16 Sep 03 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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