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Last Updated: Friday, 28 March 2008, 10:03 GMT

Detainees' hunger strike protest

Oakington Reception Centre
There are about 150 detainees refusing to eat at Oakington

About 150 detainees at Oakington Immigration Reception Centre in Cambridgeshire have gone on hunger strike over unacceptable conditions.

A detainee told the BBC they are being fed the same meal, "seven days a week", and their cases are being overlooked if they do not speak English.

It is also claimed that some detainees have been in Oakington for six months without seeing an immigration officer.

The Home Office has said it is investigating the detainees' concerns.

Detainee Kennet Dilworth told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "We are protesting because of the food.

"The food we are getting every day is chicken and chips, seven days a week, which is not good for our health."

Chicken and chips

Mr Dilworth, who has been held at Oakington for three weeks, claims that detainees who cannot speak English are not getting help.

"People don't know if they are going to be deported or released. Some have been here six months and not seen an immigration officer," he said.

"I have three kids and a partner in this country and I am stuck in here," he added.

A Border and Immigration Agency spokesman said: "There have been some passive protests by detainees at Oakington.

"The situation remains calm and we are discussing with detainees their concerns."

'Shameful' treatment

Immigrants are kept at the centre, near Cambridge, while their asylum cases are heard.

Earlier this month a report by the Independent Asylum Commission found the UK's treatment of asylum seekers was "shameful" and falls "seriously below" the standards of a civilised society.

And following a visit to Oakington last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury criticised the way immigrants and their families are treated when in detention.

Dr Rowan Williams criticised visiting arrangements and the way families were separated.

SEE ALSO
Archbishop slams detention regime
21 Feb 08 |  Cambridgeshire
Detainees' hunger strike protest
24 Jul 07 |  Cambridgeshire
Food protest by asylum detainees
11 Jun 07 |  Scotland

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