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The 2017 Women on the Move Awards, presented by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Migrants Organise, recognised two exceptional refugees for their outstanding work to empower women.  The awards were presented on 10th March at London’s Southbank’s WOW – Women of the World Festival for International Women’s Day.

Young Woman of the Year award was given to 19 year-old Rozin Hanjool, whose family are part of the Yazidi minority group from northern Iraq. After attacks from extremist militants, they fled to the UK in 2007 when Rozin was just ten years-old.  Is 2015, while still finishing her A-levels in Coventry, Rozin started an online petition appealing to the UK Government to support and protect abducted and enslaved Yazidi girls.  Within 24 hours, the petition gathered 25,000 signatures and two years on it has now amassed over 260,000 signatures.  Rozin is determined to bring the petition back to the UK government and secure a commitment to extend urgent assistance to Yazidi girls in Iraq.  She studies law and human rights at university and campaigns actively in her free time.

Eden Habtemichael, a prominent journalist who escaped from Eritrea, was awarded Woman of the Year 2017 in recognition of her ground-breaking work to support asylum seekers and refugees in Oxfordshire. She fled to the UK in 2001 as a single mother with her two year-old daughter and applied for asylum.  Alone and scared, at one point she became homeless and destitute.  Once granted refugee status, she resolved to help other women and children in the asylum system. Eden has since worked tirelessly to find families in Oxford with spare rooms willing to host a refugee so that no one has to face destitution like her and her daughter.  Two teenage boys she found sleeping rough after arriving from Calais are now heading to university after getting A*s in their A-levels, thanks to Eden’s work in helping them find a family.

The Women on the Move Awards also recognised former child refugee Lord Dubs as Champion of the Year for his amendment to the Immigration Act of 2016 which compelled the UK government to resettle and support unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.  He continues to fight for the implementation of the provision.  The Sue Lloyd-Roberts Media Award went to Christina Lamb, Senior Foreign Correspondent for the Sunday Times, for her reporting on the refugee crisis in 2016.

Find out more about the event.

The Home Office has announced this week that Scotland’s only Immigration Removal Centre will close next year. The closure brings an end to the indefinite detention of immigrants in Scotland.  The UK is the only country in the EU that practices this kind of detention system.  Figures show that three quarters of people leaving Dungavel last year were released back into the community.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) is now seeking an end to long-term immigration detention across the UK as a whole as well as an assurance from the Home Office that Dungavel detainees will not be moved into other detentions centres in the UK.  In a statement the SRC highlighted the impact on peoples’ lives of being held in short-term holding facilities and said that being detained without a release date causes extreme distress, loneliness and isolation as well as putting people’s health and well being at further risk.  The SRC argued that this situation will only worsen if people are moved away from their support networks.