UK’s Home Office slammed over ‘hostile environment’ for refugees
Britain’s Home Office has been slammed in a new report over its inhumane and damaging treatment of people seeking safety in the UK.
The report by activist group Refugee Action claims Home Office incompetence and cruelty are having a devastating effect on asylum seekers because they face a “complex web of hostility and mistrust”.
The report cited long delays in determining applications, pointing to figures showing that an initial decision was still pending after at least six months in 14,306 cases at the end of last year.
Refugee Action Chief Executive Stephen Hale said: “Our research shows the huge stress and anxiety this is causing, as people struggle to provide for their families and survive on little over £5 a day”.
“Banned from work or study, they feel hopeless, isolated and excluded,” Mr Hale said.
“The Home Office is systematically failing to respect the rights of vulnerable people.
“Britain’s asylum system often does immense damage to people who come to this country to claim protection and Refugees are being forced to wait years for a decision on their asylum claim,” he said.
The criticism follows on the heels of a huge backlash over the so-called ‘Windrush scandal’ which saw the government wrongfully attempt to deport people who came from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 to fill labour vacancies.
The Refugee Action report is based on 40 interviews with asylum-seekers. It found that waiting more than six months, and often years, for a decision is taking a “tremendous toll” on people’s well-being.
It claimed that “bad practices” and “poor decision-making” were putting lives at risk.
Nationally, a third of appeals against refused asylum applications were successful, according to the report.
Refugee Action called for the Government to take urgent action to reform the system.
Its recommendations include giving people the right to work after six months of waiting for a decision, and granting discretionary leave to remain for those forced to wait for longer than a year.
Observers say the Home Office’s failures are a result of the UK government ‘hostile environment’ policies for immigrants, which require them to show documents before accessing a GP, accepting a job, renting property or opening a bank account.
Recently, the opposition Labour Party said it would end the ‘hostile environment’ policy.
In a statement, the Home Office said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection”.
“In 2017 there were just under 15,000 grants of asylum, alternative protection or resettlement, of whom almost 6,000 were children.
“We are committed to transforming the asylum system. We are modernising our processes and have established a new team to focus on more complex cases to make sure that they are decided faster,” the statement said.
AMES Australia Senior Journalist