A new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees has highlighted serious concerns about the difficulties faced by asylum seekers and refugees in settling in the UK- as reported by UK based human rights organisation ‘Right to Remain’.
The report,’Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in UK’ (appg) describes a two-tier system with support for the small number who are brought to Britain as refugees through resettlement schemes (e.g. Syrian Resettlement programme), and a hostile environment for those who arrive seeking asylum.
“To help ensure the inclusion of refugees, support cannot simply start at the point of granting refugee status; it must start much sooner, at the point of making the asylum claim”. Women for Refugee Women
The report argues that the harm caused by the hostile asylum process damages people’s ability to rebuild their lives when they are eventually granted refugee status. The negative impact of living for years in extreme poverty, being banned from working, and the long delays and poor quality of Home Office decision-making cause unnecessary stress and trauma.
Many asylum seekers also endure periods in Detention and the use of indefinite detention was also criticised in the report. The All Party Group repeated the call for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2015 Parliamentary Detention Inquiry (Sept’ 2015, ‘Immigration detention in the UK: An overview) particularly the introduction of a 28-day time limit on detention.
“We believe that the UK uses detention disproportionately and inappropriately. When compared with other countries, we detain more than most other European countries and for longer. This practice cannot be justified based on the number of applications we receive to remain in the UK, or on evidence that it enables us effectively to persuade those who are refused leave to remain to leave the country.
Another difficulty is the short 28-day period given for asylum seekers to move on from Home Office accommodation and support into mainstream housing, job seeking and welfare benefits once their asylum claim has been accepted. In the last 9 months alone, the British Red Cross has had to help 1,200 who were left homeless and destitute because of this.
The conclusions of this report are that the asylum and move-on process creates serious and unnecessary social, financial, health and welfare problems for asylum seekers from the day they arrive in the UK.
Is this the kind of society we want?