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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Detainees' hunger strike on hold
A room at Campsfield (taken by the detainees)
Campaigners said overcrowding is a big problem at the centre
Detainees at an Oxfordshire detention centre are suspending their ongoing hunger strike while they wait for a response from the Home Office.

More than 150 detainees at Campsfield House Immigration Centre near Kidlington in Oxford have been refusing to eat since Tuesday night.

They have complained to officials about the overcrowded conditions and claimed they are being held illegally.

The Home Office said it would respond to concerns by Friday afternoon.

Campsfield was rife with scabies, but only staff were issued with gloves
Campaign to Close Campsfield

A statement issued by the detainees said the centre "is a health hazard with 70% of people infected with flu".

"Paracetamol is the only medicine made available and two weeks ago even this ran out.

"Campsfield was rife with scabies, but only staff were issued with gloves.

"Although detainees are held as civil detainees, not convicted prisoners or prisoners on remand, food, toilets and showers are a lot worse than in prisons."

It said some detainees were being held even though they had won appeals against deportation or had agreed to go back to their countries of origin.

Troubled history

On Wednesday, the Home Office promised it would respond to the concerns within 48 hours.

Formerly a Young Offenders Institute, Campsfield was converted into an immigration detention centre in 1993 amid a storm of protest from local residents.

Run by the American company GEO, which specialises in operating detention facilities, Campsfield holds up to 200 male asylum seekers at a time.

Within six months of opening the centre experienced a major problem when six asylum seekers escaped following a rooftop protest.

A number of low-level disturbances inside the centre and regular public protests outside its gates has since occurred at Campsfield.

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