Displaying items by tag: asylum seekers
Kent county council is refusing to accept any more unaccompanied child migrants, after warning its services were at breaking point for the second time in less than a year. The county is locked in a battle with the Home Office, and has issued legal proceedings against the home secretary, saying the level of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the county had reached ‘unsafe’ levels. Kent’s cabinet member for integrated children’s services said the council had taken the move as it was clear that the Home Office did not intend to use existing powers to direct other local authorities to receive their fair share of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Kent has nearly double the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in care that the government says it is safe to have.
Last year over 8,500 people crossed the Channel in small boats to the UK. The Home Office plans to make it much tougher for those who enter the UK illegally to claim asylum. They will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive legally. The Government wants to deter organised criminal networks who attempt to smuggle thousands of men, women, and children into Britain. Under the new plans, refugees who come to the UK through the government's official resettlement program will get indefinite leave to remain once they arrive. Those who arrive illegally, but still manage successfully to claim asylum, will receive a new ‘temporary protection status’ rather than an automatic right to settle. The Kent Refugee Action Network charity said that far from solving the problem the new ‘deliberately divisive policy’ will ‘make people think that there are good refugees, who do the right thing, and bad refugees, who don't do the right thing’.
‘The boat is our only chance for a new life in a safe country’, said Kamal, an Iranian Christian convert who has been in Calais for 10 days with his wife Niki and their baby daughter Sava. ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself’. Over 4,600 people have crossed the Dover Strait on small boats so far this year, with increased surveillance and coronavirus travel restrictions having effectively closed the more popular method of hiding in vehicles. With inflamed UK rhetoric, the UK's immigration minister is discussing ‘new, comprehensive action plans’ to stem channel crossings. Priti Patel plans to use warships to intercept migrant vessels, but a MoD official said it’s ‘completely potty, inappropriate and disproportionate’. Kamal has lost everything since leaving Iran three years ago. They were incarcerated with 300 others after seeking refuge in Slovenia, where their savings were lost to the mafia.
Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, has urged residents to take asylum-seekers into their homes so that they don't end up living on the streets during a housing crisis. He has given his support to a scheme whereby volunteers host refugees in their spare bedrooms - adding that the city should be a place 'where everyone feels welcome and safe'. The city council has provided housing for a number of asylum-seekers during the coronavirus pandemic, covering the cost, but the arrangement is due to finish. The charity Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) has asked for twenty volunteers to offer a room for three months or more. The network provides accommodation and board to destitute asylum-seekers, and has helped to host over 100 people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan since 2009, giving them the safety and security to rebuild their lives in the UK. Refugees are evicted from Home Office accommodation 21 days after being refused.
Lockdown has been challenging for young asylum-seekers. Ali used wi-fi at the college he attended to contact his family back home, but in lockdown this has not been possible. With little money, he is unable to afford internet access, leaving him isolated. But a non-profit theatre company called Compass Collective (CC) have been providing young asylum-seekers with data packages so they can stay in touch with their families and also access virtual creative workshops. Ali and other young refugees used the workshops to stay connected and to rehearse their acting and singing skills for a film that was streamed nationally on Refugee Day. CC also connects organisations and develops partnerships, collaborating with charities like the British Red Cross and theatres such as the Globe to offer a platform for cultural sharing and celebration in a social environment; building their confidence, developing life skills and reaching their potential. See https://www.compasscollect.com/about-compass
Officials in Donald Trump‘s administration have been briefed on plans to block all asylum seekers and foreigners from entering the USA as a response to the coronavirus epidemic. All persons on the border with Mexico, apart from American citizens, will be turned back. The same policy is set to apply to the border with Canada. The plan could also see all illegal border crossers returned without due process, and asylum seekers will not be held in American immigration facilities. Anyone caught entering the US illegally will be transported to the nearest point of entry without detention by Border Patrol agents.
Pray for the Greek government trying to find new solutions to unhealthy sanitary conditions for thousands of migrants living in camps. In January it was urged to order an immediate evacuation of 100+ sick children from Moria refugee camp on Lesbos. Médecins Sans Frontières accused Athens of ‘deliberately depriving’ at least 140 minors of adequate medical care for what they described as chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases, and said it was urgent they were moved from notorious Moria to the mainland or to other EU member states. The new conservative government announced that the current overcrowded camps will close this year’, planning to replace them with smaller facilities which should be operational by mid-2020. However, administrative officials and residents of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros, and Kos are gathering in front of the interior ministry to protest against these plans.
The leader of the German Evangelical Alliance, Reinhardt Schink, spoke out against the tragedy of Christian refugees and migrants who are sent back to Afghanistan and Iran, even though they could face prison, torture and death. He cited statistics about asylum-seekers who have converted to the Christian faith in Germany, but later been rejected by the authorities. ‘Behind all these nameless figures are devastating personal destinies, and risk us harming our own values system. Authorities should use the “know-how” of the Christian churches.’ He said that experts should engage with church leaders, who guarantee that a person has effectively been baptised, taken a Christianity course, and become an active member of a church community. Schink added, ‘It looks as if pastors are suspected of not telling the truth. We hurt ourselves as a country when precisely those migrants who had integrated well and had become bridge builders between cultures are expelled.’
Arash Hampay arrived in Greece in 2016, escaping persecution in Iran and crossing the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast. After spending 18 months on the island of Lesbos, he now lives in Athens, where he works with homeless asylum-seekers. ‘It is two different hells’, Hampay, now a registered refugee and activist, said, referring to the struggles people face in both places. Greece promised to move 20,000 asylum seekers from overcrowded island reception centres to the mainland by early 2020, following a surge in refugee arrivals this summer. Since October 9,500 asylum-seekers have been moved, sparking anti-refugee protests in affected areas. Meanwhile, some 17,500 people have arrived from Turkey, and overcrowding is now worse on the islands, where 38,800 asylum seekers now reside.
The parish of Riches Claires has a dedicated committee that has worked for thirty years helping new arrivals to Europe. For many residents in Brussels the Christian outreach was a key step for their integration into the city. Most refugees in the church arrive after fleeing their countries of origin for economic or political reasons. However, arriving in their new home has not been easy for most, particularly those from Latin America who, for the most part, had to learn from scratch the intricacies of the local language. ‘The uprooting of our culture, of leaving our family members and leaving our friends is very painful,’ said Zoraida, a Colombian human rights defender. Over the years, the church community has evolved following the migratory waves. The first to arrive were Spaniards, then Chileans. More recently, it has been Venezuelans and Central Americans fleeing violence.