Dave Smith
Roundup of Refugee News (7.6.21)

Weekly News Review (w.b. 7.6.21)

Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK)

BBC: Napier Barracks: Housing migrants at barracks unlawful, court rules

The Home Office's decision to house cross-channel migrants in a "squalid" barracks in Folkestone was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

Six asylum seekers brought the case, claiming Napier Barracks was "unsafe" and dormitory use caused a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year.

The ruling could see a damages claim against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The Home Office said use of the barracks would continue, and it was considering its "next steps".



Observer: Asylum seekers in Napier barracks ‘face blacklist threat for speaking out’

Asylum seekers held at the Home Office’s widely criticised military barracks in Kent claim they will be “blacklisted” if they speak out after last week’s high court ruling that the decision to use the site was unlawful.

Staff employed by private Home Office contractors at the Napier barracks site at Folkestone have allegedly told residents that their asylum application will be impaired if they talk to the media about conditions at the camp.



Church Times: Bishop of Southwark criticises ‘blarney’ of new rules on asylum claims

The Government is “engaging in blarney” in its plans to treat as inadmissible the asylum claims of those who arrive in the UK after travelling through another “safe” country, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, told the House of Lords last week.



Guardian: Kent threatens Home Office with legal action over unaccompanied child migrants

Kent county council has issued legal proceedings against the home secretary as it warns its services for unaccompanied child migrants are at breaking point for the second time in less than a year.

The authority said it may no longer be able to accept new unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) within days, and has served a formal letter before action to the Home Office.

Kent has nearly double the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in care the government says is safe to have, the council has said.



BBC: Channel crossings: Migrant crossings continue amid good weather

More migrants crossed the English Channel by boat on Tuesday.

Six boats carrying 132 people were intercepted mid-Channel by the UK Border Force, in sea conditions described by the Coastguard as smooth and slight, with good visibility.

The Bank Holiday weekend saw 568 people make the crossing, according to the Home Office.

The Home Office said French authorities also prevented seven further crossings, involving 36 people.



Sky News: COVID-19 'exposed damaging immigration policies' - report

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on migrants who have limited or insecure status, according to a new report.

About 75% of migrants surveyed said they struggled to pay for food during the pandemic, while half were left unable to afford toiletries and cleaning products.

Of those who needed financial support, 64% were unable to access it.



Metro: I didn’t know I was an undocumented immigrant until I was refused re-entry to the UK

(You will probably think from the introduction that it was entirely the fault of the lady concerned…but that’s not the case – you’ll need to read the whole article to find out why not!)

I sat in the immigration office in Gare du Nord station in Paris in December 2009, as the immigration officer handed me back my passport with a bold ‘cancelled’ stamp in red on the visa I had.

She then explained that the visa had expired a year ago and all this time – unknown to me – I was undocumented.

I was in France for work but my world came crashing down as I realised that I could not go back to London and return to my six-year-old daughter.

In tears, I tried to reason with the immigration officer and all she said to me was to go and come back with a valid visa. I felt helpless and devastated.



Asylum / refugees / immigration (international) 

Guardian: Denmark passes law to relocate asylum seekers outside Europe

Denmark has passed a law enabling it to process asylum seekers outside Europe, drawing anger from human rights advocates, the UN and European Commission.

Politicians in the wealthy Scandinavian nation, which has gained notoriety for its hardline immigration policies over the last decade, passed the law with 70 votes in favour and 24 against.

The legislation will complicate the EU’s efforts to overhaul Europe’s fragmented migration and asylum rules, an extremely divisive subject within the bloc.



Guardian: Daughter of Biloela asylum seekers evacuated from Christmas Island for urgent medical care

The youngest daughter of the Tamil family from Biloela who have been detained for more than 18 months on Christmas Island has been evacuated to Perth for emergency medical care, advocates have said.


Guardian: US immigration: humanitarian groups tasked with picking asylum seekers

The Biden administration has quietly tasked six humanitarian groups with recommending which migrants should be allowed to stay in the US, instead of being rapidly expelled from the country under federal pandemic-related powers that block people from seeking asylum.

The groups will determine who is most vulnerable, on the Mexican side of the border, and their criteria has not been made public.



Relevant world news

Guardian: Hundreds detained without trial in Uganda in new wave of repression

A new wave of repression in Uganda has led to the abductions of dozens more opposition activists by security forces and at least one alleged death. Several hundred people are thought to have been detained without trial in the east African country in secret prisons where they are subjected to a brutal regime of mistreatment. The country has suffered a series of crackdowns aimed at stamping out dissent since campaigning began for presidential elections late last year.

The trigger for the most recent repression by security services appears to have been the swearing-in ceremony of Uganda’s veteran president, the 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni, in May.