Aspen cards and surveillance of people in the asylum system

Reports coming in from around the country about serious delays in the changeover of ‘Aspen’ card provider on 21 May 2021, leaving people destitute; see the Home Office ‘fix’ as an attachment below … but people are still without money for food two weeks later.

Updated 14 June 2021: Faith is still waiting … see the post below of 7 June 2021.

11 June 2021: Independent: Fifty Charities Urge Home Office to Act on ‘Crisis’ in Asylum Support Payments

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The Walk: Hope. Too BIG to ignore.

Updated 14 June 2021: The Walk Education Programme

From July to November 2021 a giant puppet of a 9-year-old Syrian refugee girl called Little Amal will walk from the Syria-Turkey border, across Europe to the UK, travelling 8,000km to focus awareness on the refugee crisis.

Before, during and after her journey Little Amal will connect people from refugee and non-refugee communities through creative learning projects to help forge lasting bonds of friendship. The Walk‘s Education programme will be developed by, with and for each community, responding to local realities with a focus on bringing people together through projects that transcend borders, culture and language. Working with all age groups, we aspire to build a programme of workshops, performances and apprenticeships that celebrates migration and has the potential to empower what might otherwise be a lost generation of refugee children:

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UK: ‘Reckless’ new plan on immigration sees major decline in processing asylum claims

27 May 2021: Amnesty International: UK: ‘Reckless’ new plan on immigration sees major decline in processing asylum claims

Quarterly immigration statistics published by Home Office today: Long outstanding asylum claims 50% higher than a year ago

‘The Home Office’s new asylum rules are reckless and impractical’ – Steve Valdez-Symonds

New statistics published today by the Home Office show that immigration rules introduced by the Home Secretary last December have led to more than 1,500 people who have sought asylum in the UK being warned the Home Office is looking to send them to other countries. Although there are no agreements in place for those countries to accept responsibility for their asylum claims. To date, none of these people have been removed from the UK.

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Britain’s borders: wide open to Covid, slammed shut for people in need

What are the priorities?

19 May 2021: Guardian: Britain’s borders: wide open to Covid, slammed shut for people in need

“During the first three months of the pandemic – from 1 January until lockdown on 23 March last year, 18 million people arrived in the UK from abroad. But only 273 of them were obliged to quarantine. By contrast, across the 12 months to March 2020, 23,075 people were thrown into immigration detention centres: prisons for people who have not been convicted of any crime but are suspected of entering – or remaining in – the country without the correct paperwork.”

Read the article here:

The Immigration Plan and the ‘Sovereign Borders’ Bill

10 May 2021: Rethinking Security: Article by David Forbes

As the UK Government prepares to announce its new Sovereign Borders Bill in parliament, David Forbes argues that the very idea of ‘sovereign borders’ is false and ignores both the reality of international legal commitments and the disastrous precedent of Australia’s flirtation with the concept.

The British people were invited to respond to a Consultation about Home Secretary Priti Patel’s New Plan for Immigration over the six weeks to 06 May. This has proved to be a highly contentious process, with almost 200 refugee, human rights, legal and faith groups publicly condemning the process, not least for excluding the perspective of refugees.

None of us were invited to challenge the title ‘Sovereign Borders’ attached to the post-Consultation Bill which will be announced in this week’s Queen’s Speech. Nor were we invited to question whether “sovereign borders” is an appropriate concept to apply to complex issues of migration and asylum which are defined in customary international law.

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For stateless people in the UK, the road to recognition can be tortuous

UNHCR: For stateless people in the UK, the road to recognition can be tortuous

I am a human being just like you all,
I have great moments and sometimes I stumble and fall.
I am merely a human being first and foremost,
Do not treat me like I am a number, I am not a ghost.
I have a family which I have not seen in years,
I try to wash away the pain but all I feel are tears.
Running down to the bottom of my face,
I may not have a document, but I am part of the human race.
I fight my battles inside and out, trying to prove I am worth much more,
I try to show you what I am all about, but you keep slamming the door.
I have worked hard for all that which I have achieved,
I am still human if only you will believe.
Believe, that I have a right to live and be free as everyone else,
My circumstances, my life in chaos, I am in a mess.
Through no fault of my own I find myself here stuck,
I am stuck in this injustice, riding extremely low on my hope and luck.
But I believe in all the good that still exists,
the truth will surface if I persist,
I will continue to raise my voice for those who cannot,
this choice I do not regret.
I am still a human being, lest you should forget

from the report ‘I Am Human’ (the link is below)

Most of us take our citizenship for granted. But for people who are stateless, the lack of citizenship is often an identity crisis that can last many years – sometimes, the best part of a lifetime.

Stateless people living in the UK told UNHCR of the limbo they find themselves in as they seek recognition of their status. 

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We are here

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants launches a landmark report, We Are Here, looking at the experience of undocumented migrants in the UK. This in-depth research, based on interviews, focus groups and surveys, finds that:

–          82% of the undocumented people in the research entered the UK using legal means, with only 15% entering via irregular means

–          2/3 of the undocumented migrants in the research had lived in the UK for at least 10 years

–          3/4 of the undocumented people in the research had family ties in the UK – almost half had dependent children here

The report also looks at how barriers within the immigration system, such as complex and expensive pathways to settlement, mean that people who had legal status at one time end up losing it, and hence become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

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Women for Refugee Women

QARN signed this letter:

30 April 2021: Women for Refugee Women: New Plan will harm women:


The government’s New Plan for Immigration will harm women seeking asylum. Today, 30 April 2020, more than 70 leaders of organisations and groups supporting women who have sought asylum write to the Home Secretary to express shared concerns about the New Plan.

Read the full letter below:

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Concerns about New Plan for Immigration consultation process

QARN signed this letter: 30 April 2021: Guardian: ‘Sham’: 200 groups criticise UK government consultation on refugee policy

Bodies say survey is poorly designed, rushed and may exclude refugees from responding

Almost 200 organisations have branded a government consultation on fundamental changes to refugee policy “a sham”.

A total of 192 refugee, human rights, legal and faith groups have signed a public statement condemning the six-week consultation on the government’s New Plan for Immigration as “vague, unworkable, cruel and potentially unlawful”.

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UK Asylum System and Asylum Seekers’ Mental Health

The Mental Health Foundation has found that the increased vulnerability to mental health problems that refugees and asylum seekers face is linked both to their pre-migration and post-migration experiences. People who have fled persecution, violence and war hope to find safety and security in the UK. Tragically, the current UK asylum system often exacerbates their suffering, with long waits for asylum decisions, poor accommodation and a ban on working all contributing to this situation.

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