Dave Smith
Weekly Roundup of Refugee News 29.1.21

Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK)

Independent: Britain closes the door on unaccompanied child refugees

Unaccompanied child refugees will no longer be given sanctuary in the UK, the immigration minister has said – sparking claims that Britain has “turned its back” on vulnerable youngsters in need of protection. 

The Dubs Amendment, passed in May 2016 by David Cameron’s government in the wake of an increase in refugees arriving in Europe during the Syrian war, required ministers to relocate and support asylum-seeking children from the continent.


Guardian: Teenage asylum seeker in UK wins legal battle over 'unlawful' age assessment

A Sudanese teenager who sought asylum in the UK as an unaccompanied child when he was 15 but was judged by the authorities to be 20 has won a legal battle against the council which was found to have “unlawfully” assessed his age.



ITV News: Fears mount after 120 asylum seekers thought to have caught Covid at Kent barracks

Concerns of a health crisis at a military barracks housing asylum seekers in Kent have escalated after 120 of the 400 housed there are thought to have contracted coronavirus. Residents, many of whom have crossed the English Channel in small boats, say social distancing is impossible.



Observer: UK asylum seekers told claims at risk if they ‘misbehave’

People held at temporary Home Office refugee camps are being threatened that their asylum claims will be harmed if they “misbehave”, according to testimony from site residents.

A series of statements from asylum seekers inside the camps, anonymised to protect them from possible reprisals, allege they have been told by staff employed by private contractors that their asylum application will be jeopardised for speaking out about conditions or going on hunger strike.



Kent Online: Asylum seekers are being moved out of Napier Barracks into hotels.

Asylum seekers are being moved out of Napier Barracks into hotels. Around 100 people will be moved over the next few days to make it easier for people to social distance at the site in Folkestone.



Western Telegraph: Home Office pressed for answers on plans for Penally Camp and its asylum seekers

Answers are being sought from the Home Office on its future plans for Penally Camp. Home Office immigration minister Chris Philp stated that it is intended to move all the asylum seekers from the camp into 'suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical’ and they were hoping to start moves - albeit for small numbers of people - from last Monday, January 18.



Express: Essex Lorry: People smugglers behind deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants jailed for 78 years

FOUR people smugglers who were behind the excruciating deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants have been jailed for a total of 78 years. Victims included women and children desperate for a better life when they paid up to £14,000 each for a “VIP” smuggling service.



Tortoise: Fortress Britain (*a long read from earlier in the month)

On the water, everything was black. Of course Ali had grown accustomed to darkness; it had been dark in the back of the truck that drove him here over three long days, and darker still in the hold of the ship where he had stowed away before that.

But this was a different kind of darkness, a darkness without walls that stretched to infinity – left and right, forwards and backwards, up above to the night sky and down below to the sea floor.



Independent: Vulnerable left desperate as Home Office fails to respond to nearly half of MP enquiries on time

Vulnerable people across the UK are being left desperate as the Home Office fails to respond to almost half of MP inquiries – many of which are about constituents in need of help – within its target time period.



Independent: Home Office accused of ‘callousness’ after blaming asylum seekers for Covid outbreak in camp of hundreds

The Home Office has been accused of “callousness” and “inhumanity” after blaming asylum seekers for the spread of the coronavirus in a military camp where hundreds are being held, with dozens to a dormitory.



Asylum / refugees / immigration (international)

Mail Online: Denmark sets a target of ZERO asylum seeker applications to protect 'social cohesion' 

Denmark's prime minister has set a target to drive down the country's asylum seeker applications to zero to protect 'social cohesion'. The country is already seeing the lowest number of asylum seekers since 1998, with 1,547 people applying in 2020. By comparison, applications in the UK were 32,423 last year.



The Economist: Refugees are seeking asylum ever farther from home

More globalised migrant flows will ease pressure on countries that have historically borne the heaviest burden. In theory, countries are obliged to open their doors to refugees and asylum-seekers. The United Nations’ refugee convention forbids governments from sending them back home if they are at risk. In practice, most countries are less than welcoming, and numbers of asylum-seekers are largely determined by geography: they often end up staying for years in the first country where they seek refuge, which tends to be next to the one they are fleeing.



Independent: Veteran activists campaign for Biden's immigration reform

Immigrant rights activists energized by a new Democratic administration and majorities on Capitol Hill are gearing up for a fresh political battle to push through a proposed bill from President Joe Biden that would open a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million people.

The multimillion-dollar #WeAreHome campaign was launched by national groups including United We Dream and the United Farm Workers Foundation.



Relevant national and international news

Guardian: How the Arab spring engulfed the Middle East – and changed the world

An era of uprisings, nascent democracy and civil war in the Arab world started with protests in a small Tunisian city. The unrest grew to engulf the Middle East, shake authoritarian governments and unleash consequences that still shape the world a decade later



Guardian: Foreign NHS workers could be denied Covid vaccine in England

Foreign NHS workers treating Covid patients are at risk of being denied vaccinations because of internal guidelines about who can receive the jab, the Guardian has learned.



News to make you feel good

Vice: The Charity Reuniting Syrian Refugees with the Pets They Had to Leave Behind

“Kyra! Kyra!” someone calls from an apartment in the Dutch city of Utrecht. The building’s hallways are carpeted and there’s a walker outside nearly every door as I make my way upstairs. “Hi,” says Hiba, 29, holding her black-and-white cat.