KRAN is launching a new series of blogs written by staff and young people highlighting the realities and difficulties young refugees and asylum seekers face living in the UK.
In our first blog, our CEO Razia Shariff, highlights some of the issues which are a cause of constant worry for many of the young people that KRAN works with. We will be looking at the issues in more detail from the perspective of young people in the coming months.
27th September 2017
Deportation of failed asylum seekers has been in the news recently (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-41100121 and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/samim-bigzad-deport-uk-afghan-asylum-seeker-taliban-death-threats-government-pilot-refuse-take-off-a7918706.html )
This is a constant reality hanging over many asylum seekers as they await the outcome of their asylum claim or appeal. We work with young people who are constantly having to try and prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are in danger if they are returned to their homeland. The other day a young Egyptian came to our offices clutching a print out of an interview transcript with the Egyptian police authority stamp on, which he had managed to convince someone to send him hoping that this would be the evidence he needed for his appeal. Another whose relative was granted asylum in another European country didn’t realize that he could use the same evidence to prove his right to asylum until after he was refused.
Over the past year for nearly all our Eritrean young people, they were refused asylum in the first instance and then awarded refugee status on appeal. In the end the Home Office changed their position regarding Eritrea and now Eritreans are given asylum in the first instance, but not before the lawyers came together to establish a legal precedent. The Afghan young people seem to be in a similar situation at the moment, where the HO states that it is not safe for UK citizens to visit Afghanistan, but it is safe from those fleeing Afghanistan to be returned and not granted asylum. The dilemma for those who are at risk of deportation is that while they await their future and case for appeal if they have new evidence to submit a fresh claim, they can request voluntary deportation, or sign in every two weeks at the HO and without notice get taken in and told they are being deported in a few days, or they ‘disappear’ and are vulnerable to those who offer them shelter with the constant fear of being caught. There is currently a legal challenge to Chapter 60 in regards to this deportation window. Even when they are finally successful and survive the waiting time for the appeal it takes even longer for the system to finally give them what they are entitled to. A young man who was left destitute after his refusal, won his appeal, only to remain destitute and homeless for a further two months while the system caught up with the change in his status, with no support or compensation for the time he had spent awaiting the outcome of the appeal !
An MP recently stated that anyway they have come in illegally and after due process a decision has been made, so they needed to be deported, but how else can these young people enter the UK to escape their realities back at home, there is no legal safe passage to the UK, unless you are on the Syrian resettlement scheme, or on the Dubs scheme (although no one has entered the UK in the past 9 months under this scheme). This notion of the ‘good, deserving’ or ‘bad, undeserving’ asylum seeker narrative harks back to the dark ages and must stop.
The prospect of deportation is harrowing enough when you have come so far with such high costs and risks to you and your family. There has been a lot of concern regarding the deportation centers in the UK (investigation on Brook House IRC Panorama program airing on Mon 4th September ) and there was a Cross Party Parliamentary inquiry into the use of Immigration detention centers in 2015 by the APPG on Migration. There is no humanity or dignity in the way the process treats these young people who are refused asylum in the first instance, the torture of uncertainty and waiting for a bureaucratic system which takes over a year to even offer a substantive interview ( for all those who arrived in the peak of 2015) needs to be urgently reviewed. These young people against the odds have risked everything to arrive in the UK, they need security, they need support and care, unfortunately they also need advocates because of an archaic process and system that leaves them in ‘limbo land’ until their asylum claim has been proved and status is confirmed.
10th March 2016
Local Man’s Walk 274km from Budapest to Vienna for Refugees
This September, Paul Barrett of Rochester, Kent will be walking from Budapest to Vienna. Following a popular route taken by refugees, Paul is hoping to raise awareness and money for Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).
Paul was moved to walk the 274 km route after he saw first-hand the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe whilst on holiday in Budapest last summer. Paul recalls one of the biggest impressions from his visit being, “the sights and smells of hundreds and hundreds just sitting and waiting in the heat. People who were escaping war- people who had risked everything”. Many of these individuals were not allowed to make the journey into Austria by train and instead had to walk the great distance on foot.
Paul begins his fundraising initiatives in April but when he sets off, a year after his holiday, he understands his experience “will not be in any way like that of a refugee” but instead explains, “this is my tiny show of solidarity for those fleeing war, and perhaps a way of raising awareness in some small way for such an immense, huge problem”.
Kent Refugee Action Network is a charity dedicated to working with young refugees striving to live fulfilled, independent and successful lives in our community. This is achieved through educational programs, a drop in service and a mentoring system ensuring young people feel safe, belong and build hope for a better future.
Jessica Maddocks, Communications Manager for KRAN said: “We are very grateful to Paul for undertaking this intrepid journey on our behalf. The young refugees we work with have all endured long and traumatic journeys to reach the UK and the money he raises will help support them to lead fulfilled, independent and successful lives in our community.”
Find out more: http://walkingfrombudapest.blogspot.co.uk/
Watch ITV Meridian’s report on Paul’s journey: http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2016-04-09/following-in-the-footsteps-of-desperate-refugees/