Dave Smith
Roundup of Refugee News.(21.6 - 12.7.21)

Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK) 

The Times: War on people smugglers is doomed to fail

It has a ring to it, doesn’t it, in this life which is a vale of tears and so full of disappointment? “This legislation,” said the home secretary Priti Patel this week of her new Nationality Bill, “delivers on what the British people have voted for time and time again: for the UK to take full control of its borders.” We promised it, you voted for it, here it comes.

And the measure laid before parliament this week is almost erotically charged with “full control”; you can practically feel the handcuffs. In summary, there will be a two-tier system to create a new, lesser status for asylum seekers who arrive illegally. Which according to some experts is nearly two thirds of them, though most do not arrive by boat.

Guardian: Judge tells Priti Patel to bring asylum seeker back to UK

Priti Patel should bring back to the UK a small boat asylum seeker who was removed to France in the next 14 days, the high court has ruled. 

In a ruling published on Tuesday, the day that Patel launched her nationality and borders bill, which she hopes will make it easier to remove asylum seekers who arrive in small boats, Mr Justice Wall ordered that the home secretary use her “best endeavours” to bring back a 38-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker from Darfur who can only be identified by the initials AA.

Washington Post: Opinion: Britain’s new immigration bill would create a deeper maze of cruelty

Last August, the British government deported a 38-year-old Sudanese man to France, just over two months after he arrived in Britain seeking asylum, leaving him homeless and destitute. He claims he was tortured and trafficked en route to Europe from Libya, but because he was put through a rushed asylum process (known as a shortened asylum screening interview), this was reportedly not investigated.

This week, on the very same day a judge ordered he be returned to Britain, Home Secretary Priti Patel introduced a new bill to Parliament that would likely entrench this draconian and punitive system.

Guardian: UK to block visas for countries refusing to take back asylum seekers

The UK will block visas for visitors from countries the home secretary believes are refusing to cooperate in taking back rejected asylum seekers or offenders.

In proposed legislation published on Tuesday, Priti Patel and future home secretaries would have the power to suspend or delay the processing of applications from countries that do no “cooperate with the UK government in relation to the removal from the United Kingdom of nationals of that country who require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom but do not have it”.


New Statesman: Is Priti Patel making it illegal in the UK to rescue asylum seekers?

The Nationality and Borders Bill, which legislates for changes to the UK’s asylum and immigration system, has been published. One section in particular is causing concern online.

The King’s College London economist Jonathan Portes tweeted a section that suggests helping an asylum seeker to enter the UK will no longer need to be “for gain” to potentially be a criminal offence. He dubbed this the “Nicholas Winton clause” – after the Briton who rescued Jewish children from Europe on the eve of the Second World War by providing safe passage to the UK (on what is known as the Kindertransport).

Financial Times: RNLI vows to continue sea rescues despite prison fears for picking up migrants

The UK’s leading maritime rescue charity has vowed to keep saving anyone in peril at sea despite provisions in draft legislation that barristers say could threaten volunteers with life imprisonment for picking up asylum seekers.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution made the statement after immigration barristers warned that Clause 38 of the nationality and borders bill, published on Tuesday, potentially criminalised rescues of asylum seekers if they were deemed to constitute “facilitating” their arrival in the UK.

Observer: Channel patrol: Priti Patel’s harsh regime is ‘answer to a crisis that doesn’t exist’

Blue skies appeared above Dover, and for the crew of the Valiant, moored off the harbour wall, it was a signal to start readying for action. Fine weather meant more migrants would soon be heading towards them. For those on board the Border Force cutter, it was a familiar routine. Already this year it has brought ashore hundreds of asylum seekers, another 65 last Sunday alone.

So far, 6,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats during the first six months of the year. The figure for the whole of 2020 was 8,417, a total expected to be eclipsed during the next two months as clement weather makes the treacherous crossing more tempting.

Guardian: Home Office ‘acting unlawfully’ in rush to deport asylum seekers

Hundreds of people arriving in England in small boats are being immediately detained in immigration removal centres, raising fears of a new, secret Home Office policy to deport them without their asylum claims being properly considered. 

Among the detainees are apparent trafficking and torture victims from countries including Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, who would normally be allowed asylum accommodation in the community while their claims are processed but instead are effectively imprisoned.


LGBTQ refugees based in the UK are hitting back at the government's "radical" proposed changes to asylum and resettlement policy - which will make knowingly entering the UK without permission a criminal offense.

The Nationality and Borders Bill - described by the Home Office as one of the "most radical changes to the broken asylum system in decades" and dubbed the 'anti-refugee bill' by critics - was introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday (6 July 2021). It will be debated by the Commons and the Lords before likely becoming law.

 BBC: Asylum queue nine times longer than 10 years ago

The number of migrants waiting in the UK for their asylum claims to be processed was nine times higher by the end of last year than it was in 2010.

One is Patricia, 19, who fled war and abuse in Liberia and says her mental health has suffered during the two years she has waited for a decision.

There are currently 65,000 people in the queue, official figures obtained by the Refugee Council suggest.

Guardian: Napier barracks staff feared asylum seekers might die from Covid

Staff at Home Office barracks accommodation feared that some asylum seekers placed there might die during the mass Covid outbreak earlier this year, the Guardian has learned.

Meeting notes released following a freedom of information request to Kent county council reveal that public health officials and those working at the barracks were concerned about asylum seekers with serious health conditions such as leukaemia, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, liver or kidney disease and malnutrition as well as those who had survived torture, had PTSD, were on hunger strike or had been put on suicide watch.

Independent: ‘It’s psychological torture’: Immigration detainees tell of being locked up for up to 24 hours a day during pandemic

“The days and nights blur together. I can barely sleep at night but when I do, I experience nightmares. I feel like I’m being stripped of my identity, that my personality is being broken down. It’s psychological torture.” 

Richard*, 23, speaks from a prison cell he has been locked in for more than 22 hours a day since March 2020. Some days he has only stepped out of the small, stuffy room for 30 minutes.

New Statesman: England squad built on immigration - yet our xenophobic government dares to cheer it on

Jonathan Liew rightly points out that the England Football squad wouldn’t exist without immigration in his piece for the New Statesman – ‘yet our xenophobic government dares to cheer it on’

iNews: David Olusoga: ‘The story of the NHS and the story of immigration are completely intertwined’

The historian and broadcaster Professor David Olusoga has made British history uncomfortable – and makes no apologies for it. Britons, he argues, are trapped in a make-believe past which has written out the contributions of a host of largely non-white people who have helped to shape the nation into what it is today.

Asylum / refugees / immigration (international)

AlJazeera: Refugees make risky journeys from Iran across Turkey

The crossings along the mountainous 540km (335 mile)-border between Turkey and Iran are protected by a concrete wall, a barbed-wire-topped barrier that stretches for 140km (87 miles).

But that does little to stop thousands of mostly young people fleeing from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran every year to leave conflict, violence, and despair behind in search for a better life.

Relevant world news

Guardian: Tigray forces mobilise against militias from neighbouring province

Insurgent forces in Tigray are mobilising for new conflict against militia from a neighbouring province in Ethiopia, with thousands of new volunteers joining their ranks after federal forces withdrew following more than eight months of war.

Ethiopian federal forces declared a unilateral ceasefire and pulled out of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray province, as well as dozens of other towns eight days ago.

BBC: Ethiopia election: Abiy Ahmed wins with huge majority

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won the country's delayed elections with an overwhelming majority, the election board said on Saturday. The board said Mr Abiy's Prosperity Party won 410 out of 436 seats, giving him another five-year term in office.

Polls were not held in the war-torn Tigray region, where many thousands are living in famine condition.

Sky News: Afghanistan: Taliban make rapid advances across country as western forces withdraw

Taliban militants are continuing to make rapid military advances across Afghanistan as western forces withdraw after two decades of conflict.

The Islamist insurgents now claim to control 85% of the country having overrun areas bordering five countries - Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan - prompting Afghan security personnel to flee.

What we’re listening to

CARAG: Episode 10 - Colonialism and Asylum Policy

Britain is currently reforming its Asylum system and its Home Secretary, on the face of it, appears to have driven a coach and horses through the Refugee Convention of 1951. In this conversation with Dr Lucy Mayblin, A Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sheffield, she talks to us about the Convention and breaks it down to its simplest elements. Is Britain on the brink of breaching its obligations by contemplating these far reaching changes?https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/episode-10-colonialism-and-asylum-policy/id1521448166?i=1000523009568