Asylum update – 21st December 2007

Secondary migration
New Europeans on the move: a preliminary review of the onward migration of refugees within the European Union, by Anna Lindley and Nicholas Van Hear
The onward movement of new citizens of refugee backgrounds within the European Union is an apparently growing pattern in European mobility which has largely been overlooked. This paper reviews the still limited evidence relating to these movements, focusing on the relocation of Somali and Tamil Sri Lankan Europeans from continental Europe to the UK, and discusses the conceptual and practical issues raised by this mobility, outlining an agenda for future research.

Review of Border and Immigration Statistics
The BIA are conducting a review of the statistics that it produces and publishes and the frequency with which these statistics are published. A public consultation is being conducted as part of this process. Comments to be submitted 20 February 2008.

UNHCR research papers
– International protection for trafficked persons and those who fear being trafficked, by Kari Saito Research Paper No. 149

– Secondary movement in Romania: the asylum-migration nexus, by Alison Munteanu Research Paper No. 148

– The removal of failed asylum seekers: international norms and procedures, by John Gibson Research Paper No. 145

Papers can be accessed

House of Lords
Discussion on the use of X-rays as an aid to age determination in immigration control, including confirmation that the Home Office is planning to publish the results of the UASC consultation early in the new year.

‘Advising for adaptation’ NIACE guide
NIACE have published a guide which illustrates how refugees and migrants can be supported through long term personal adviser support to adapt their skills and find employment in the UK.

PRESTO – the Partnership for Refugee Employment through Support, Training and Online Learning
The PRESTO Project comes to an end in December 2007. To ensure the learning from the project is not lost, PRESTO has developed the Presto Legacy website.

Employment, Skills and Training Needs of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Recent Migrants in Haringey
A report commissioned by Haringey Council’s Employment & Skills Team by the Working Lives Research Institute. Contact for a copy.

Refugee Council updates
Policy briefing on the situation of Zimbabwean asylum cases [December 2007]

Submission to the Independent Asylum Commission [November 2007]

Inter agency partnership newsletter [December 2007]

Updated information briefing on the government’s Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP)

Refugee Week conference

Friday 15th February 2008, 10:00 – 16:30

Venue: Human Rights Action Centre, Amnesty International, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA

An invitation to all those who have participated or are interested in Refugee Week, which is a UK wide programme of cultural and educational events celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK.


Tel: 020 7346 6752

Compass debate
Tuesday 29 January 2008, 6pm

Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, Westminster, London

Forthcoming Westminster debate on migration to coincide with Compass’ latest report Towards a progressive immigration policy.

Panel members include: Immigration Minister Liam Byrne MP; Jon Cruddas MP; The Guardian’s Madeleine Bunting; Barrow Cadbury Trust Chief Executive Sukhvinder Stubbs; Don Flynn of the Migrants Rights Network; Neil Jameson from the Strangers into Citizens campaign and the event will be chaired by The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee.


Worth reading…

…from Comment Central this post by Daniel Finklestein discusses the political gains and losses to be made by adopting a particular stance on immigration, particularly illegal immigration. While the reference point for this is the position of Republican candidates for next year’s US Presidential election, there are some interesting insights into the limits of recent Conservative policy on the issue.

…from Policy Network this article provides some further clarification on the lack of clarity with which we can assess immigration statistics. The author suggests that it is essential for Labour to develop new methods to measure migration flows in order to be able to confidently design any policy.

…from Eurozine this interview with French footballer Lilian Thuram is enlightening on race and integration. Thuram has lived and worked in three European countries and is a modest supporter of the French model of integration but thinks that race should be taken out of this equation.

The binary logic of asylum

There is a certain logic that often pervades coverage of asylum issues from all sides. The logic turns on the fact that the asylum decision is seen as a pure determination of an individual’s moral worth. Those who are given asylum, the refugee, are often seen as saintly; the failed asylum seeker is seen as quite the opposite.

This binary logic is at work in the representation of this story. Inducing the return of failed asylum seekers with ‘reintegration payments’ is a policy used by the Home Office as an alternative to forced removals, which on average cost the taxpayer more than twice the amount. In this sense it is a pragmatic policy to attempt to deal with the paradox of returns. Yet here the binary logic kicks in: failed asylum seekers are bad and should not be given taxpayers money – even if forcibly removing them costs the taxpayer double.

It is understandable that there is concern about people with no remaining legal right to be in the UK receiving any funds. Yet this logic places a huge amount of faith on the asylum determination procedure, which is fraught with complication. There are huge grey areas in asylum decision-making in which someone can have legitimately fled from a civil war but often is not able to prove that they are under specific threat of persecution; there are likely to be cases where the reverse is true. Forced migration and global asylum is a far more complicated issue than can be determined by one decision made on a specific set of criteria.

Furthermore, from this binary logic, the story of failed asylum seekers receiving payments can become embellished. It is argued that this will act as a pull factor to other migrants wanting to use the asylum route to get into the UK. But these payments are conditional on leaving the UK. It is unlikely that people would first save thousands of pounds in order to pay the right agents to transport their family to the UK and then seek asylum in the hope that they would then receive, on average, £1,500 just to return home again.

Campaigning against deportation

Al Bangura, the Watford footballer set to be deported back to Sierra Leone, has received unprecedented support from football fans of all clubs in recent days. Bangura fled the civil war in his country and arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied minor four years ago; he is now a well-paid professional with a family in the UK. The campaign to persuade the Home Secretary to overturn the decision is being led by Watford fans but also has support from professional bodies.

The public support is reminiscent of many smaller local campaigns for individuals in a similar position around the UK. But is the high-profile nature of this case a good thing for justice and fairness? There would seem a compelling case for Bangura to stay, but many others may have similarly compelling cases but dissimilar public profile and support. Yet, while Bangura’s public profile may have generated greater support, the publicity of the case may make it difficult for the Home Office to overturn as it would provide a clear precedent for other similar cases.

Asylum update – 14th December 2007

Forced Migration Online podcast
The podcast was recorded at the Refugee Studies Centre’s Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture which was on Wednesday 21 November 2007 at the University of Oxford’s Museum of Natural History. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Refugee Studies Centre, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan gave the lecture and spoke on the subject of human rights and refugees.

Welcome to Your Library
Welcome to your library – Evaluation report, November 2007
Executive summary
Good practice guide

Home Office
Simplifying immigration law for the 21st century – A proposal to use a new Government Bill to simplify immigration law has received positive feedback. The consultation feedback shows that the simplification principles were supported by 64% of respondents.

National Consortia Coordinating Group
The National Consortia Coordinating Group (NCCG) has produced its final monthly newsletter, which includes updates from Regional Strategic Coordination Groups and regional Migration Partnerships, and several new funding streams in the funding section.

Failed asylum seekers face healthcare ban
Plans to bar hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers from all but emergency health services are being considered by the Home Office.
The Observer, Sunday 2nd December

Use of wooden staves criticised at detention centre
Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, has criticised the use of wooden staves, or truncheons, at Lindholme immigration removal centre. Such equipment is banned in low security prisons and not used in privately run detention centres, but the Prison Service routinely issues them to staff at Lindholme.

Press coverage:
Guardian: Migrant detention centres use staves banned in low security prisons
Independent: Jail inspector criticises use of truncheons at immigration centre

Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children
The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children has produced a new publication: Your Right to Education: A Handbook for Refugees and Displaced Communities

Employers in education overlook skills and experience of refugees
The head of a task force Dr Robert Garnett, co-chair of the Refugee Teachers Task Force said schools and colleges in London are missing out on the knowledge, skills and experience of hundreds of potential teachers who have come to the United Kingdom as refugees when they fill job vacancies.
Report of the refugee teacher’s task force
Refugees into teaching website
Press release

Worth reading…

…from Eurozine this article discusses the impact on conducting research of changing discourses of race and ethnicity and self and other across the last three decades, suggesting that while advances have been made in talking about white racism, new taxonomies can generate new divisions.

…from New York Times this comment piece outlines Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s take on three recent events highlighting what she calls ‘Islamic justice’. Ali is adamant that it is a duty incumbent upon ‘moderate Muslims’ to play a part in exposing and campaigning against certain injustices within the Islamic world.

…from The New Statesman this book review explores a new volume of 16 stories of immigration to Britain. The reviewer suggests that the book is afresh and diverse take on the rich human detail that migration experiences comprise.

Country of origin information and return

In returning failed asylum seekers to their country of origin or a country of transit, the Home Office must be clear that the individual in question will not face reprisals upon his or her return in the form of imprisonment, torture or murder. A recent ruling by the House of Lords suggests that people facing persecution in Darfur can safely and reasonably relocate to Khartoum. These individuals therefore become internally displaced persons (IDPs) and often find themselves in camps.

Yet it is in these very camps that persecutory reprisals could take place. Recent reports suggest that ‘a new wave of violence’ is sweeping across refugee camps in Darfur. Officials are suffering attacks and arms continue to flow into the camps. In southern Sudan also, similar concerns have been raised over the safety of camps. The UNHCR has halted its repatriation programme to camps in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, as tribal tensions have become fatal in some cases.

In light of the House of Lords’ ruling, these reports raise questions about the efficacy of country of origin information. How accurate and time sensitive can this information be? Can it be provide a risk assessment for particular circumstances? Additionally, however, these discrepancies also highlight some fundamental contradictions in the way asylum offer protection (or otherwise). The hope of asylum has carried the three men in question all the way to the UK where it is their right to claim asylum, only to be told that they can (and perhaps should have done) relocate to Khartoum Return is notoriously difficult to enforce (see ICAR’s Removals Briefing), yet crucial to a credible asylum system. As conflicts become increasingly complex, this situation is likely to worsen.