Dave Smith
Roundup of Refugee News 7.8.21

Asylum / refugees / immigration (UK)

Independent: ‘My life is frozen’: The asylum seekers condemned to a decade of limbo by Home Office delay

From the age of 15, every time Sara saw a letter on the doormat, she would feel a pang of hope. Rushing to pick up the envelope, she imagined this was it; her life could now begin. But each time, for nearly 10 years, there was disappointment – it wasn’t her asylum decision.

Along with her mother and younger brother, Sara had fled to the UK aged 14. The family claimed asylum in Britain in 2008, but this was refused three months later on the basis of inadequate evidence. They submitted a new asylum claim, this time with the help of a lawyer. Then their wait began.


Independent: Young asylum seeker at high risk of suicide after being blocked from joining brothers in UK, court hears

A young asylum seeker who is stranded in a Greek refugee camp after being blocked from joining his brothers in the UK is at high risk of suicide, a medical report shows.

The Independent revealed in May that Samir, who fled to Europe after fleeing detention and torture in his home country in 2019, was living alone and in fear on the fringes of a refugee camp on the island of Samos.


Metro: Home Office launched website to deter asylum seekers from coming to UK

The Home Office spent thousands in taxpayer cash to set up a ‘misleading’ website to deter asylum seekers from travelling to the UK, warning them ‘we will return you’.

On The Move was exposed as a ‘fake organisation’ set up by the government, complete with a logo and website containing numerous pages about the ‘risks’ of making the journey to Britain. 

Links to the website were shared on social media as part of a Home Office campaign that cost £23,000 over a five-month period.


Voice of America: As Refugees Cross Channel in Small Boats, Britain Seeks to Criminalize Irregular Migration

The British government is seeking to deter asylum seekers from crossing the English Channel by making irregular migration a criminal offense, as large numbers of migrants continue to cross the sea from France to Britain in small boats. 

The migrants come from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Most are fleeing conflict or poverty.

At its narrowest point, the English Channel is 30 kilometers wide. The migrants usually travel in overloaded inflatable dinghies across the busiest shipping lane in the world. British and French intelligence services say the crossings are coordinated by networks of people smugglers, who charge about $3,000 per person.


Financial Times: Britain’s wrong-headed approach to refugees

Thanks to the bravery of volunteers who run towards storms at sea to rescue ships’ crews, few British institutions command as much respect as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The charity, however, has recently had to negotiate a different kind of storm, over its efforts to help refugees who get into difficulties crossing the Channel from France. Nigel Farage, the former Brexit party leader, accused it of running a taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs. Last week, the RNLI said it had received hundreds of thousands of pounds of extra donations in response.


Asylum / refugees / immigration (international)


Guardian: Fleeing the Taliban: Afghans met with rising anti-refugee hostility in Turkey

It was a journey that had taken weeks, and there were times when the 65-year-old Afghan widow, who walks with the aid of a stick, had to be carried by her son.

Their trek, across 15 canyons she says, left Durdana with badly scarred feet. “I have not had a day of peace in over 40 years. I had to come to Turkey, there was no choice.”


The Conversation: A brief history of asylum seekers at the Olympics — and why they are sometimes misunderstood

The Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya left Tokyo this week after her Olympics were over, bound not for her home country, but a new home in Poland.

Tsimanouskaya was granted a humanitarian visa by the Polish government after claiming the Belarusian Olympic Committee was trying to force her back to Minsk where she was in danger for her life. According to Tsimanouskaya, “her team had ‘made it clear’ she would face punishment if she returned home”. She wanted protection and asylum.


Time: A Belarusian Olympic Athlete Found Protection in Japan. Most Refugees Do Not

Some of the most gripping sports drama in Japan this week took place not at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, but at Haneda Airport. 

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says she was taken there against her will after publicly criticizing Belarusian Olympic officials online. She was to be returned to Belarus, under the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, to face the consequences.


Guardian: US ready to take in more Afghan refugees – but won’t help them leave

The United States has said it is ready to take in thousands more Afghans whose US links put them at risk from the Taliban as western troops leave, but the asylum-seekers will face an arduous journey to safety.

Less than a month before the United States is set to end its longest-ever war – and amid a surge in Talbian advances across Afghanistan – the state department expanded the eligibility of refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 Afghans who have applied under a program for interpreters who assisted US forces and diplomats.


Relevant world news


Financial Times: Afghanistan after the US: the growing threat of a Taliban takeover

Habiba was cooking in her home near an abandoned Nato base in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar when a police officer knocked on her door. “He said the Taliban are hiding around these houses, they will open fire, you need to leave,” recalls the 40-year-old mother of four.

She fled with her family to the capital Kabul by bus two weeks ago. Looking out of the window as they travelled across a desert under cobalt skies, she saw the signs of the Taliban onslaught that has gripped the country in fear as the US works to wind down its military mission by the end of August.

“I was thinking that the regime has changed. Everywhere I saw the white Taliban flag and armed fighters. I asked my husband, has the government collapsed and we weren’t told?” says Habiba.