Your stories of Sanctuary

We want to collate stories to explain how the hostile environment impacts on people seeking asylum

Are you involved with people who have been granted a positive decision, but then find themselves homeless because of the short notice they are given to leave their asylum accommodation?

We seek to bring together some of the observations that our Meetings of Sanctuary have made regarding the recent ramping up/harshening of the hostile environment. We would like to include both the good things that Meetings of Sanctuary and others are doing and the bad things they might have witnessed locally.

We ask that information does not put anyone at increased risk, and we do not need to know the names of people in a vulnerable situation.  

Please send stories to Sheila Mosley – . Stories received will appear below:

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QARN next meetings

QARN meetings: next planned meeting dates: on Zoom on 13 January 2024.

We usually meet quarterly using Zoom and all Quakers are welcome. We plan to start at 10.30am to manage the technical aspects of a Zoom meeting, falling quiet at around 10.45am, and beginning business at 11am; and we aim to end around 12.30pm. The meeting link will  be available to those who receive our emails, but for other people, please contact us via giving your name, and the Quaker Meeting to which you are attached. Thank you.

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Protest on 1 December 2023: Profiting from Misery

November 2023: Rethinking Security: Alternative Security Review: Roundtables on Human Security

During the research phase of the Alternative Security Review, we held a series of roundtable discussions with representatives of UK civil society groups to learn more about what human security might mean in a UK context, what insecurities exist, what organisations are doing to address these insecurities, and what they would recommend for a Human Security Strategy for the UK.  

The discussions acted as consultations, comparable to those that the government carries out for security and other reviews. However, our aim was to invite representatives of groups who experience insecurity or do not have automatic access to policy-making spaces in order to develop an understanding of the insecurities faced by people in the UK that often go unheard in elite circles.

The collective message from these roundtable discussions is that, across all sectors, human and environmental security is not prioritised by government. Instead, traditional ideas about national security prevail, as does a commitment to neoliberalism and the built-in insecurity that creates for many.

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Parliament: There are no Safe Routes for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to the UK

23 November 2023: Guardian: Man and woman reportedly drown trying to cross Channel to UK

Fifty-eight others rescued, with many suffering from hypothermia after dinghy capsizes less than a kilometre from French shore

A man and a woman are reported to have drowned on Wednesday trying to cross the Channel to the UK in a small boat.

Fifty-eight others were rescued, with many of the survivors understood to have been suffering from hypothermia.

The latest tragedy comes just two days before the second anniversary of the deadliest drowning in the Channel in 40 years on 24 November 2021, when at least 27 people drowned.

NGOs in northern France say there have been four other deaths at the border in recent days, with two people killed on the highway between Calais and Dunkirk and two dying in a fight.

There were about 100 people in the dunes on a beach close to Boulogne earlier on Wednesday waiting to cross the Channel, according to eye witnesses. Police with riot shields fired teargas and one group, which included the man and woman who died, tried to get on to a dinghy as fast as possible to avoid being caught by the police.

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Thanks to John O: Parliament: There are no Safe Routes for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to the UK

Lord Dubs: To ask His Majesty’s Government what safe routes to the United Kingdom are available to child refugees and asylum seekers.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office: Lord Sharpe of Epsom

There are no provisions in our Immigration Rules to enable someone to travel to the UK to seek asylum or temporary refuge. The UK welcomes vulnerable refugees, including children, directly from regions of conflict and instability through our global resettlement routes, the UK resettlement scheme, community sponsorship and the mandate resettlement scheme. We also have bespoke routes responding to crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan and the Hong Kong BNO visa route.

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UNHCR warns against “exporting” asylum

19 November 2023: UNHCR warns against “exporting” asylum, calls for responsibility sharing for refugees, not burden shifting

Amid considerations by some governments to send asylum seekers abroad for processing, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging states not to externalize their asylum and protection obligations. UNHCR warns that such practices jeopardize the safety of those in need of international protection.

“UNHCR remains firmly opposed to externalization initiatives that forcibly transfer asylum seekers to other countries. Externalization simply shifts asylum responsibilities elsewhere and evades international obligations. Such practices undermine the rights of those seeking safety and protection, demonize and punish them and may put their lives at risk,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.

“It is ironic that, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, attempts are being made to weaken its principles and spirit. Instead, the priority must be to find more effective ways to guarantee the universal right to seek asylum and other rights provided by international refugee law.”

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The courts won’t save us from the Home Office’s cruelty.

14 November 2023: Open Democracy: Supreme Court Rwanda ruling is a victory – but not the slam dunk you think

The courts won’t save us from the Home Office’s cruelty. Those who defend refugees must get bolder – fast

he UK Supreme Court has ruled that the government’s flagship Rwanda deportation plan for refugees is unlawful – a decision that will bring relief to thousands of men, women and children seeking asylum in this country who are trapped in the government’s backlog in crummy hotels or on the prison barge.

The Supreme Court found unanimously that there were clear grounds to believe refugees would not be safe in Rwanda, where 100% of people from Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan have had their asylum claims rejected, and where the government itself is accused of torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances. The real and serious danger in which our government was aiming to put people who came to us seeking protection is unthinkable and must never be forgotten.

Continue reading “The courts won’t save us from the Home Office’s cruelty.”

Concerns about the use of barges, army barracks, hotels, offshoring etc etc. continued 2023

This post follows on from the initial post which became very long, but can be found here: Here we update the post with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation and hotels, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites. These are the consequences of the hostile system that leaves people languishing without a decision for long periods of time.

See also posts regarding ‘Detention Centres‘ such as such as Hassockfield/Derwentside and also the post regarding plans to export people seeking asylum to Rwanda 

Re: children:

23 October 2023: Guardian: Conditions at Manston centre for asylum seekers ‘unacceptable’

Watchdog’s report also has ‘serious concerns’ about conditions at Western Jet Foil and Kent Intake Unit

Conditions at a processing centre for asylum seekers who arrive on the Kent coast in small boats have been called unacceptable in a report from a watchdog that monitors the centre.

Representatives from the Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) made a total of 85 visits in 2022 to three Home Office processing centres for small boat arrivals – Manston, Western Jet Foil and Kent Intake Unit – for its 2022 annual report into short-term holding facilities on the Kent coast. All three centres hit the headlines last year due to a variety of scandals and serious incidents.

The IMB report found that the facilities struggled to cope with an increasing number of arrivals and identified “serious concerns about the conditions in which people were being held, particularly at Manston”.

The report adds: “At Manston detained individuals were accommodated in marquees which we would describe as at best basic, at worst unsanitary and unacceptable.”

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Fair Deal Security: Centring people and planet in Lib Dem strategy

4 October 2023: Rethinking Security: Fair Deal Security: Centring people and planet in Lib Dem strategy

Rethinking Security presented its case for a Human Security Strategy at the Lib Dems conference in Bournemouth in September. Richard Reeve here advances five evidenced arguments that should inform Lib Dem policy and strategy before the next general election.

As ever, early autumn is conference season in the UK and Parliament will not sit until its members have finished meeting with their party faithful, councillors and activists in conference centres across the land. This year’s conference season is particularly significant due to the expectation that a general election will be held next year. So all the parties are currently busy trying to set the parameters, if not fine detail, of their election manifestoes.

For Rethinking Security it is also significant as we have our own research findings and analysis to share ahead of not just a looming election year but the anticipation of yet another national security review process in the months that follow these polls. So last week Leonie Mills-Woanya and I attended the Liberal Democrats’ conference and shared our findings at a special fringe event, Security Reclaimed: Towards a Human Security Strategy for the UK

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Mapping Statelessness

Updated 17 October 2023: European Network on Statelessness: Are Stateless Claimants Disadvantaged Within Asylum Procedures? New Evidence from the UK Context

Thomas McGee, PhD researcher at Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness (Melbourne Law School) and the MENA Statelessness Network (Hawiati)

This blog post introduces new research, conducted as part of the #StatelessJourneys project, into the challenges faced by stateless claimants within asylum procedures in the UK context. The study focuses on the experiences of stateless Kurds from Syria in the UK, revealing hurdles related to civil documentation, cultural understanding, and language analysis. These findings emphasize the need for more statelessness-sensitive procedures and policy changes, both in the UK and within other countries of asylum across Europe.

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Exporting people seeking asylum – Rwanda

Updated 10 October 2023: Human Rights Watch: UK: Abandon Rwanda Asylum Transfer Plan

New Report Documents Rwanda’s Global Targeting of Rwandan Refugees, Critics

  • Rwandan authorities and their proxies are using violence, judicial mechanisms, and intimidation to try to silence criticism from Rwandans living around the world.
  • Rwanda’s targeting of Rwandans abroad, including in the UK, underlines Rwanda’s contempt for human rights norms enshrined in the international protection system.
  • The UK should abandon its asylum transfer deal with Rwanda and take action to enhance the protection of Rwandan residents and refugees in the UK.

(London) – Rwandan authorities and their proxies are using violence, judicial mechanisms, and intimidation to try to silence criticism from Rwandans living around the world, Human Rights Watch said in a report published today. The abuses, which have fostered a climate of fear and self-censorship, are being brought to light as the United Kingdom government is at the Supreme Court appealing the judgment that its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

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