Dave Smith
Weekly Roundup of Refugee News 7.12.20

Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK)

Guardian: Lawyers denied access to asylum seekers in Kent barracks

Lawyers have been denied access to an army barracks used to house asylum seekers to speak to dozens of clients who require urgent legal advice, even as residents are moved directly to detention centres for removal from the UK. 

Independent: Home Office faces legal challenges over ‘inhuman’ conditions for asylum seekers in former barracks

Hundreds of asylum seekers are being unlawfully held in “inhuman” conditions at former military camps, according to legal claims filed against the Home Office. Legal challenges have been mounted over two ex-army sites – Penally barracks in Pembrokeshire and Napier barracks in Kent – that were repurposed in September to hold asylum seekers.

BBC: Barton Stacey asylum seeker cabin site 'would be open prison'

Plans to accommodate up to 500 asylum seekers in cabins near a village have been condemned by both the local MP and council leader. Test Valley Borough Council leader Phil North said the "substandard" homes near Barton Stacey, Hampshire, would be like an "open prison".

HuffPost: 45,000 Asylum Seekers Waiting More Than 6 Months For Home Office Decision

More than 60,000 asylum seekers are waiting for the Home Office to decide on their applications – and three in four have been left in limbo for more than six months while living on £5.66 a day. Campaigners have warned the delays are taking a “horrendous toll” on the mental health of some of society’s most vulnerable people. Systemic racism in the asylum housing system

Last week a highly respected and influential group of MPs shone a light on the asylum accommodation crisis. Ministerial decisions and chronic failures in policy implementation are doing serious harm to the health and wellbeing of people in the asylum system, exacerbated by Covid. 

CapX: Unfair rules punish asylum seekers and foreign key workers – it’s time for an overhaul

In March, as coronavirus strengthened its grip on the UK, there was a clear message from government: we’re all in this together. Yet policies and rules currently enforced by the same government are preventing asylum seekers from playing a crucial role in this nation’s fight against Covid-19. 

Guardian: UK races to deport asylum seekers ahead of Brexit

Scores of vulnerable asylum seekers, including suspected victims of trafficking, are scheduled to be deported this week as the home secretary Priti Patel ramps up removal operations ahead of Brexit. Three flights are planned amid opposition from campaigners who say they have evidence that cases are being “rushed” through to avoid Patel’s own published policy on identifying trafficking victims. 

Guardian: 'Game-changer': £1m pledged to help refugees resettle in UK

A US-based foundation has pledged £1m to help encourage communities across the UK to resettle hundreds more refugee families. The money from The Shapiro Foundation will be used to support the community sponsorship scheme, which enables grassroots groups to offer a home to refugees.

Guardian: Home Office proceeds with disputed Jamaica deportation flight

The Home Office deported 13 men to Jamaica on a controversial charter flight that left in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but a significant number of other offenders were granted a last-minute reprieve after a legal challenge. The Home Office intended to remove as many as 50 Jamaican nationals, but only a fraction of that number boarded the flight, according to ministry sources. 

Asylum / refugees / immigration (international)

Observer: ‘Now I have nothing’: Tigray conflict has changed Ethiopia for ever, say refugees

Before shelling by Ethiopia’s army ripped through Humera in early November, life in the airy, agricultural city in Tigray was idyllic, says Brhane Haftu, a geography teacher. 

Guardian: 'I saw people dying on the road': Tigray's traumatised war refugees (**warning: distressing content**)

When Ethiopia’s army shelled Humera, a small agricultural city in Tigray, in mid-November, 54-year-old Gush Tela rushed his wife and three children to safety in a nearby town. A few days later, he felt compelled to find out what had become of his home. As he approached the city on his motorbike, riding through the arid countryside, he said the stench of countless dead bodies filled the air.