Channel Crossings

That which is morally wrong cannot be politically right

Updated 14 September 2021: Independent: Border Force carries out ‘pushback drills’ using jet skis to divert dinghies in Channel, footage suggests

‘We saw the jet skis either side and at the rear of the boat and then collide with the vessel to actually spin it around. It looked dangerous,’ says director of Channel Rescue

Border Force staff have used jet skis to turn around dinghies in the English Channel as part of a training exercise, footage suggests.

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Concerns about the use of army barracks etc.

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites:

You can write to your MP in support of the #CloseTheBarracks campaign.

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites:

Updated 14 September 2021: thanks to John O at No Deportations/Electronic Immigration Network: More Concerns Over Use of Former Barracks as Asylum Accommodation
All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention on Monday 6th September, published an important interim report on its inquiry into the Home Office’s use of large-scale, institutional sites to house destitute asylum seekers here: https://appgdetention.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/210907-APPG-Inquiry-Interim-report-Summary-of-oral-evidence-sessions.pdf?x78463. T

Just one example:

“Other residents were now having their substantive asylum interview conducted on site, instead of in the community. There were serious concerns about this. People were being been given very little notice of their interview, in some cases just minutes or hours, affecting their ability to prepare. People were also not always able to access legal advice before the interview, or aware of the need for it. As one resident said: “I saw people who went for their interviews without speaking to a lawyer first. I thought it was normal, people were getting their interview letters the day before their interview, so they just did it. We didn’t know any different.”

This week’s interim report presents a summary of three oral evidence sessions held with key witnesses in July. A number of serious concerns were raised by witnesses, with the report noting these included “unsanitary, crowded, ‘prison-like’ conditions at the sites; chronic levels of sleep deprivation; ineffective safeguarding; inadequate access to legal advice and healthcare; problematic changes in the processing of residents’ asylum claims; and intimidation and mistreatment of both residents and NGO workers supporting them.”

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If you can, please write to your MP and point out that pushbacks are dangerous and unworkable.

Dear Friends,

You may have seen that the government has released its statement on the Afghan resettlement scheme.

There is no deviation from its exclusionary and unlawful policy (under the Refugee Convention) of preventing people claiming asylum except in the smallest of circumstances:

“The details set out above constitute the UK’s comprehensive immigrationresponse to the unique and exceptional circumstances of the evacuation andchange of situation in Afghanistan. There is no change to our longstanding policythat a person can only claim asylum from within the UK. We will not acceptasylum claims at our Embassies, High Commissions or VACs overseas orotherwise; whether by online application or through other correspondence. “

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Bishops hit out at ‘criminalisation of Good Samaritan’ over Channel crossings

Barbara Forbes has drawn our attention to yesterday’s letter from twelve Anglican  Bishops.  They describe the Nationality and Borders Bill as ‘an affront to justice’.   

The signatories are listed at the foot of the letter. If you live in the diocese of any of these bishops you might like to write and thank them. If they sit in the Lords you could ask them  to work against the Bill when it reaches the House of Lords. If you are in a diocese that is not represented in the list you might write in terms that would encourage them to join the protests.   

12 September 2021: Guardian: Bishops hit out at ‘criminalisation of Good Samaritan’ over Channel crossings

Letter from 12 C of E bishops says nationality bill is ‘affront to justice’ by penalising the saving of a life

Twelve Church of England bishops have accused the government of criminalising “Good Samaritans” who seek to save the lives of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

The bishops, who speak on asylum and refugee issues within the church, said the nationality and borders bill before parliament is an “affront to justice” by putting the saving of life under a legal penalty.

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400 volunteer lawyers are taking on pro bono cases of people needing to get out of Afghanistan

Worth knowing: DLA Piper are hosting a scheme supported by ILPA where over 400 volunteer lawyers are taking on pro bono cases of people needing to get out of Afghanistan. Email is projecta@dlapiper.com

4 September 2021: i : Hundreds of lawyers team up to help Afghans flee Taliban – and navigate complex refugee systems in the West

The government’s naming of its Afghan resettlement scheme ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ is ‘cynical’ given other obstacles, organiser warns

Nearly 400 lawyers and immigration professionals have teamed up with one of the world’s biggest law firms to form a new group to help people trying to flee Afghanistan, i can reveal.

The group, which is yet to be formerly named but operates as the Afghan Immigration Group, was founded by a clutch of UK asylum lawyers in an attempt to share information and work co-operatively to assist as many people as possible left in danger since the West withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban seized power.

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New Plan for Immigration

We will collate reports of the Nationality & Borders Bill which has come out of the recent ‘New Plan for Immigration’.


Updated 2 September 2021: Evening Standard: Public’s ‘positive’ response to Afghan refugees impresses UK charities

Reminder that when you get past the fear-mongering, scapegoating & misinformation, there’s a wealth of goodwill, energy & capacity for welcoming people & respecting their human rights & dignity. How sad some prefer to stir former rather than tap latter.” – Steve Valdez-Symonds https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/charities-people-taliban-uk-government-walsall-b953311.html

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Responding to the urgency of the situation in Afghanistan

20 August 2021: From a number of members of the QARN Steering Group:

We understand the urgency of the situation for those fleeing Afghanistan, and also those already in UK who are in the asylum process, or living in the hidden economy without papers at this time.

The situation also provokes us to act, and thoughts in Meetings are turning to offering sponsorship to those who will be brought to UK having been assessed as very vulnerable under the scheme put in place by the UK Government.

These schemes appear attractive to people wanting to do something. They can also bring a range of difficulties to the people offered support, and those offering to help.

People must make their own decisions and there will be others with experience amongst members of the QARN network.

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We need new routes to safety immediately

Updated 13 August 2021: Care4Calais: We now know that made the young Eritrean man who died in the sea off Calais yesterday so desperate to leave France.

The 27-year-old had been staying in camp near Calais. In recent days the police were aggressive and violent, taking tents and belongings and harassing people so they could no longer stay even in this rough camp.

In the police’s wake came the smugglers, offering the only way out – a dangerous trip in a small, overloaded boat across the world’s busiest shipping channel.

It takes a lot of luck to make that journey. The Eritrean couple’s luck ran out. There were 37 in their boat, a hopeless overloading. Just off the coast, in choppy conditions, it began to take on water.

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Stop the deportations

Updated 3 September 2021: Guardian: Home Office spent almost £9m on deportation charter flights in 2020

The Home Office spent almost £9m on deportation charter flights last year, the Guardian has learned, including more than £500,000 for planes that never left the tarmac.

At least 828 people were removed by air, more than double the 410 removed on similar charters in 2019. The department spent £8.2m on 47 charters to 24 countries in 2020, with 18 of those countries in Europe.

The Home Office no longer provides specific figures when there are fewer than 10 people on a flight. Eleven of the flights had fewer than 10 people on board, meaning the exact number is unclear.

Ministers also paid £575,748 for five flights that never took off – two to Spain, two to Pakistan and one to Somalia. Officials say that they paid less than the usual cancellation costs on these flights as some flights could be rebooked or rescheduled.

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