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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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. “

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

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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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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Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration – David Neal

New Inspections scheduled for 2021-22 include:

  • ‘An inspection of Border Force assurance’
  • ‘An inspection of Intelligence’
  • ‘An inspection of a small airport’
  • ‘An inspection of a small seaport’
  • ‘An inspection of the removal of Foreign National Offenders (FNOs)’

Published 23 July 2021

ICIBI Inspection Plan 2021-22
a. Completed inspections – reports awaiting publication:
 ‘An inspection of ePassport gates (June 2020-January 2021)’. Submitted 17
June 2021
 ‘Second annual inspection of “Adults at Risk in immigration detention” (July
2020-March 2021)’. Submitted 30 June 2021
 ‘A further inspection of the EU Settlement Scheme (3) (July 2020-March
2021)’. Submitted 15 July 2021
 ‘An inspection of asylum casework (August 2020-April 2021)’. Submitted 23
July 2021

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Suggested letter to MPs – New Plan for Immigration

Dear  Friends

If you have not already signed one of the many template letters opposing the Bill, which are being circulated by the Refugee Council, Detention Action and others,  you might like to crib from this letter which I have sent to my MP.

It identifies our Quaker position and refers to the New Plan for Immigration which took up so much of our time earlier this year.   It does not cover everything of concern.

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The UN Human Rights Council must urgently respond to the global pattern of pushbacks, human rights violations, and lethal disregard for human life at international borders

QUNO has been involved in preparing this letter which you will find on various websites, and QARN along with others has signed it:

23 June 2021: To: Member and observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Re: The UN Human Rights Council must urgently respond to the global pattern of pushbacks, human rights violations, and lethal disregard for human life at international borders

Dear Excellencies,

The undersigned civil society organizations write to express our grave concern about widespread, unlawful, and sometimes severe mistreatment of migrants at and around international borders around the world and to call on the Human Rights Council to take appropriate action by establishing an independent monitoring mechanism on pushbacks and collective expulsions, and the accompanying violations used to enact them.

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UNHCR: World leaders must act to reverse the trend of soaring displacement

18 June 2021: UNHCR: World leaders must act to reverse the trend of soaring displacement

Congolese asylum-seekers await health screening in Zombo, near the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in July 2020.  © UNHCR/Rocco Nuri

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today urging world leaders to step up their efforts to foster peace, stability and cooperation in order to halt and begin reversing nearly a decade-long trend of surging displacement driven by violence and persecution.

Despite the pandemic, the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people, according to UNHCR’s latest annual Global Trends report released today in Geneva. This is a further four per cent increase on top of the already record-high 79.5 million at the end of 2019.

The report shows that by the end of 2020 there were 20.7 million refugees under UNHCR mandate, 5.7 million Palestine refugees and 3.9 million Venezuelans displaced abroad. Another 48 million people were internally displaced (IDPs) within their own countries. A further 4.1 million were asylum-seekers. These numbers indicate that despite the pandemic and calls for a global ceasefire, conflict continued to chase people from their homes.

“Behind each number is a person forced from their home and a story of displacement, dispossession and suffering. They merit our attention and support not just with humanitarian aid, but in finding solutions to their plight.”

“While the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees provide the legal framework and tools to respond to displacement, we need much greater political will to address conflicts and persecution that force people to flee in the first place,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

Girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 per cent of all forcibly displaced people. They are particularly vulnerable, especially when crises continue for years. New UNHCR estimates show that almost one million children were born as refugees between 2018 and 2020. Many of them may remain refugees for years to come.

“The tragedy of so many children being born into exile should be reason enough to make far greater efforts to prevent and end conflict and violence,” said Grandi.

The report also notes that at the peak of the pandemic in 2020, over 160 countries had closed their borders, with 99 States making no exception for people seeking protection. Yet with improved measures – such as medical screenings at borders, health certification or temporary quarantine upon arrival, simplified registration procedures and remote interviewing, more and more countries found ways to ensure access to asylum while trying to stem the spread of the pandemic.

While people continued to flee across borders, millions more were displaced within their own countries. Driven mostly by crises in Ethiopia, Sudan, Sahel countries, Mozambique, Yemen, Afghanistan and Colombia the number of internally displaced people rose by more than 2.3 million.

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