On EU Borders

See also: https://qarn.org.uk/channel-crossings/

Update 30 December 2021: Guardian: Trapped at Europe’s door: inside Belarus’s makeshift asylum dormitory

About 1,000 people, mostly Kurds, are waiting at a converted customs centre in Bruzgi for the chance to cross into EU

The giant warehouse towers over the Belarus countryside, less than a mile from the Polish border. In this 10,000 sq metre space patrolled by dozens of armed soldiers, 1,000 asylum seekers are crammed among countless industrial shelving units, held up on their way to Europe in the midst of a frigid winter.

“We’re trapped in this building,” says Alima Skandar, 40. “We don’t want to go back to Iraq and we can’t cross the border. Please, help us.”

What was a customs centre in the village of Bruzgi has been turned into a dormitory for asylum seekers. The EU has accused Belarus’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, of deliberately provoking a new refugee crisis by organising the movement of people from the Middle East to Minsk and promising them a safe passage to Europe. Lukashenko’s critics say the exploitation of these people is a callous reprisal for sanctions that Brussels has imposed on his regime.

Last autumn Skandar, her husband and their four children arrived in Belarus on a flight from Iraqi Kurdistan and then camped for weeks surrounded by barbed wire that Poland had erected along its border.

Early in November, Belarusian authorities escorted thousands of asylum seekers to the Polish frontier in an escalation of the crisis. Witnesses told the Guardian how Belarusian troops gathered groups of up to 50 people and cut the barbed wire with shears to allow them to cross. Hundreds managed to evade the Polish police by hiding in the forests. Others were caught and pushed back violently to Belarus by Poland’s border guards.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/dec/30/trapped-at-europes-door-inside-belaruss-makeshift-asylum-dormitory

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“Shocking conditions” found in Kent holding facilities for asylum seekers: also RNLI

Updated 16 December 2021: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Report on an unannounced inspection of the detention of migrants at Dover and Folkestone Detention facilities: Tug Haven, Kent Intake Unit and Frontier House by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons 8 October and 1–3 November 2021

This report covers inspections of the detention facilities at Tug Haven and Kent Intake Unit (KIU) in Dover, and Frontier House in Folkestone. The facilities mainly held people who had arrived from France on small boats after undertaking sea crossings from France. Several hundred people arrived at Tug Haven during the inspection and most went directly to immigration removal centres (IRCs) or hotel or hostel accommodation. The Home Office did not keep data on the length of time people spent at Tug Haven, but about 2,000 people, including over 700 unaccompanied children, had been held at KIU or Frontier House in the previous three months for an average of more than 26 hours. The longest detained person was held for over four days and the longest detained child had been held for over 90 hours.

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Plan to reform the Human Rights Act

Link to proposal to ‘reform’ the Human Rights Act, and consultation (closes 8 March 2022), here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-to-reform-human-rights-act

Another disgraceful and shameless move to break away from the rules that have been accepted as protective,  fair and just, in the existing Human Rights Act.

The Government commissioned the following report as an advisory starting point – see the Executive summary here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/independent-human-rights-act-review

15 December 2021: Quakers: Quakers appalled by Human Rights Act “overhaul”

We are appalled by government plans to weaken the Human Rights Act. We believe the proposals are unnecessary and will undermine all our rights.

Many of the plans in the new consultation (offsite link) go against Independent Human Rights Act Review (offsite link) report, which Quakers fed into via the British Institute of Human Rights. Legal experts say the proposals will make it harder for people to access justice when their rights have been violated.

We are particularly troubled by the government’s plans to link human rights to perceived good conduct. This means that people convicted of a crime, particularly those who are not UK citizens, could have their rights violated with impunity because they are seen to have committed wrongdoing.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain, said:

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Resist + Persist: Tackling the Hostile Environment

From JCWI: Toolkit link below: Under the Hostile Environment, borders are everywhere. We might be questioned about our immigration status at a job interview, at the doctor’s office, in our faith community or even just in the street.

The Hostile Environment affects us all, migrant and non-migrant. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be dismantled – in fact, it means that all of us, no matter where we’re from or how we got here, can have the power to bring it down.

There are lots of things you can do to build your power and be part of the movement to dismantle the Hostile Environment – but it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why we’ve put together this toolkit of information and resources, to put the power back in your hands. Maybe you want to build your knowledge about the Hostile Environment. Maybe you want to grow your community and get other people active, too. Or maybe you want to stand in solidarity with people affected by the Hostile Environment. 

 Knowledge is power. Community is power. Solidarity is power.

Download the toolkit now

APPG Inquiry: quasi detention in camps

Updated 9 December 2021: APPG: Inquiry into quasi-detention – full report

Cross-party call by parliamentarians to end dehumanising quasi-detention of people seeking asylum

1) In relation to current or former quasi-detention sites, the government must ensure:
a) Napier Barracks is closed as asylum accommodation with immediate and permanent effect, and that people seeking asylum accommodated at Napier are moved directly to decent, safe housing in the community that allows them to live with dignity
b) Penally Camp remains closed as asylum accommodation and is not used for that purpose at any point in the future
c) Tinsley House IRC remains closed as asylum accommodation and neither it nor any other IRC is used for that purpose at any point in the future
d) No other sites of a military nature or adjacent to IRCs, including those at Barton Stacey and Yarl’s Wood, are opened as asylum accommodation

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Asylum Matters: Right to Work – Lift the Ban

See Lift the Ban:

Right now, right here in the UK, people seeking refugee status are banned from working whilst they wait months, and often years, for a decision on their asylum claim.

Instead, they are left to live on just £5.66 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families, whilst the Government wastes the talents of thousands of people.

We think that’s wrong. We believe that people who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance of contributing to our society and integrating into our communities. This means giving people seeking asylum the right to work so that they can use their skills and live in dignity.

The Lift the Ban coalition is working to change this. Together, we believe we can #LiftTheBan and ensure that people seeking safety in the UK have the right to work.

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