UK draft law bars two in three refugees from Britain: report

UK immigration plans bar two thirds of women, children seeking asylum: report
3 min read
03 June, 2021
A refugee support coalition has urged the UK government to 'rethink its proposals' on immigration.
The proposed bill will give the UK government power to reject the vast majority of refugees entering the island [Getty Images]

Two in every three women and children currently accepted by the UK as refugees would be turned away under the government’s proposed immigration reform, according to research.

A campaign group has warned that the proposed reform would endanger those who come to the UK without the necessary documentation, or through unregulated methods of arrival. 

"These are people in fear of their lives. These are people like me. These are also people like you, people who want to live in safety and dignity,” said Sabir Zazai, a spokesperson for Together With Refugees and refugee himself from Afghanistan.

Together With Refugees, a coalition campaign calling "for a more effective, fair and humane approach to the UK’s refugee system", was formed in response to Home Secretary Priti Patel's New Plan for Immigration and officially launched on Wednesday. More than 200 national and local organisations joined the coalition, including the Refugee Council, Freedom from Torture and Scottish Refugee Council.

The government’s New Plan for Immigration states that “for the year ending September 2019, more than 60% of those claims were from people who are thought to have entered the UK illegally." Together With Refugees projects that under the new policy, around 9,000 people previously granted refugee status would no longer be accepted. This translates to two in every three women and children seeking refuge in the UK.

Together With Refugees is calling on the government to "rethink its proposals" and protect those “who overcame hardship to find any route they could to escape danger”.

"We need to focus on people’s needs," a spokesperson from Freedom From Torture told The New Arab. "Rather than how they got here. This will not stop people taking dangerous routes to get to the UK.”

Together With Refugees projected that under the new policy around 9,000 people, previously granted refugee status, would no longer be accepted. This translates to two in every three women and children seeking refuge in the UK


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Analysis of Home Office data by the Refugee Council found that an average of 15,410 people were granted refugee status in the UK from 2015 to 2020 each year. Iran, Sudan, Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan were shown to be the top five countries of origin of refugees in the UK.

Charles Lawley, Head of Communications and Advocacy at UK charity Syria Relief, says the UK should instead be looking to increase its refugee intake, including from Syria.

“It is my view that the UK should be looking to increase the number of Syrian refugees dramatically and meet our moral commitment,” Lawley told The New Arab.  "Such unimaginably desperate situations of course lead people to do desperate things."  

This is not the first time the UK Home Office being has been criticised for its harsh approach to refugees and asylum seekers during the pandemic. 

In April, reports revealed that the Home Office was aware of a heightened risk of hundreds of asylum seekers contracting Covid-19 and being exposed to a "serious risk of fire" at Napier barracks, a converted military facility used to house them.