Asylum Update – 25th June 2008


The UNHCR Statistical Online Population Database  provides data and trends on the “Population of concern to UNHCR” at country, regional, and global levels. Updated along with the recent 2007 Global Trends report, data up to 31 December 2007 can be downloaded.

Structure and Operation of the KhAD/WAD in Afghanistan 1978-1992 is a recent UNHCR Note examining the eligibility for protection for Afghan asylum seekers previously members of two security and intelligence bodies. 

A new Amnesty International report, Rhetoric and reality: the Iraqi refugee crisis, looks at the international response to Iraqi refugees and in particular the threshold applied by the USA and the UK in granting asylum.

Community engagement and community cohesion is a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which recommends that government policies to promote community engagement ensure that refugee and other new migrant groups are heard. See also press release

Call for papers: Coming home? Conflict and return migration in twentieth-century Europe 1-3 April 2009, University of Southampton.

Asylum Rights Watch is an ongoing research project by Asylum Aid documenting experiences of the asylum system ongoing project. It has released 3 new dossiers covering responses received between October 2007 and April 2008, including an introduction, destitution and the right to work.  

Journal article: Accounting for the Dominance of Control: Inter-party Dynamics and Restrictive Asylum Policy in Contemporary Britain by Squire, V. in British Politics Vol 3 No 2.


Policy and law

A new UNHCR Note on DNA Testing to Establish Family Relationships in the Refugee Context provides guidance on DNA testing in the refugee context.

The European Commission has announced its Policy Plan on Asylum, listing the measures that it intends to propose in order to complete the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). See also ECRE press release

As reported last week the European Parliament has adopted the draft EU Returns Directive. See ECRE and European Parliament  press releases, UK media coverage and Latin American presidential protests

The Welsh Assembly has launched its new Refugee Inclusion Strategy. See also press release and local news item on skilled refugees in Wales

The Government’s strategy for finding and deport migrants with no right to remain are outlined in a new report, Enforcing the Deal, which states that to this purpose and to ‘ensure the country gets the migrants who will benefit UK socially and economically’, 7,500 UKBA staff will be reorganised into 70-80 Local Immigration Teams. See also UKBA press release



Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) Manchester will launch a new book ‘Am I Safe Yet? – Stories of Women Seeking Asylum in Britain from 6-8pm on July 11 at Manchester Town Hall, 1st Floor Banquet Room. Further details by email 




Asylum Update – 18th June 2008


UNHCR has released its annual report “2007 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons”, showing refugee numbers rising for second year running.

The Red Cross have publicized the findings of a survey of British perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers. The survey was conducted by ICM with 2,068 adults in May 2008.

The Home Office’s Country of Origin Information Service has published new country reports on Albania, DRC, Eritrea, Somalia and Key Documents on Nepal and South Africa.

Figures obtained by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns show 48 incidents of self-harm requiring medical treatment in UK immigration removal centres in the first quarter of 2008, an increase of 54% on the last quarter of 2007.

The Mentoring and Befriending Foundation’s annual conference in May launched a new report, Mentoring and Befriending, in which refugee and refugee organisations feature strongly. The report focuses on the relationship of mentoring and befriending to cohesion and cross cultural issues

Policy and law

Home Office Minister of State Liam Byrne has provided a written answer to the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs stating that it is not feasible to distinguish how many Iraqi asylum claims had been granted on the basis of work for British forces, and that the resettlement scheme operated from Iraq does not include the granting of asylum. 

  • See also recent parliamentary debates on situations in countries of origin of UK asylum seekers.

Statewatch have published “The Returns Directive: 9 June 2008” and a supplementary analysis: “The Returns Directive – the final stages?” Both are by Professor Steve Peers of the University of Essex and look at the directive in terms of human rights and asylum and immigration law.

  • See also: European Parliament approves Returns Directive


The Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR) at Swansea University will host a conference on Refugee Rights and Realities in Wales on 10 July. It is supported by the Welsh Refugee council and places are free for refugee and not-for-profit organisations.

Nigel Harris will speak on “Refugees, economic migration and the future of the world economy” at the Royal Society in London on 26 July, as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA).


In a special feature for Refugee Week (16-22 June) hosts MigrantVoice on refuge, a “debate on the issues that matter for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.”

Common EU asylum system: the future?

Last night saw the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, give the International Rescue Committee’s seventh annual lecture. In a wide-ranging speech, covering the impact of poverty, development, climate change and conflict of dynamics of displacement and forced migration Guterres suggested that the development of an EU asylum system is likely to be crucial in providing adequate protection in Europe for those requiring it. He argued, that ‘it is not impossible to provide protection sensitive border control and protect a nation’s security’ and (reading between the lines) its sovereign right to set limits on the number of economic migrants it allows into its territory. But, he argued, ‘this can only be done at the EU-level’ citing combination of the Dublin II regulation (that allows states to send people back to the EU Member State they first arrived into) and divergent recognition rates across different European asylum systems. Sending an Iraqi back to Greece under Dublin II, he implied, amounts to refoulement given Greece’s extremely low recognition rate for Iraqi asylum seekers.

Throughout, Guterres illustrated a keen awareness of the need to understand political contexts at all levels in order to develop effective humanitarian and protection strategies for refugees and other forced migrants. However, is it not in the context of the EU and European politics, that this is most necessary, particularly in the context of recent events in Dublin? Significant political obstacles need to be overcome before member states are likely to agree even on the need for a common European asylum system, let alone agree on one that is protection sensitive. In the short-term at least, the former seems unlikely to be a priority for European officials, given that their very existence is perhaps under threat.

Asylum Update – 11th June 2008


Destitution in the Asylum System in Leicester is a new report commissioned by the Leicester Refugee and Asylum Seekers Voluntary Sector Forum and co-ordinated by Refugee Action, which surveys 135 destitute asylum seekers.

The Children, Youth and Migration Network is an international network of researchers and professionals set up following the recent Children and Migration conference in Cork. Anyone with an interest in these issues can join.

Journal article (1): Risk and resilience for psychological distress amongst unaccompanied asylum seeking adolescents by Matthew Hodes (et al). Available online now for future publication in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. See abstract and press release

Journal article (2): Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework, by Alistair Ager and Alison Strang. Read online in the Journal of Refugee Studies Vol. 21 No. 2


Policy and law

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has produced two new information sheets: Immigration Rules – concessions on general grounds for refusal and Access to Healthcare

UNHCR has published Building a Europe of Asylum: UNHCR’s Recommendations to France for its European Union Presidency (July – December 2008). It contains eleven recommendations for ensuring that future asylum initiatives are fully grounded in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees.

The House of Lords has this week debated the Immigration (Registration Card) Order, which will extend criminal offences for misuse of the ARC card to those on Section 4 support.

Managing the Impacts of Migration: a Cross Government Approach is a new strategy paper from the Communities and Local Government department. It focuses on five main areas: border controls; improved population data; funding for cohesion; transition impacts projects; and migrant workers.

The department has at the same time published a Review of Migrant Integration Policy which includes a feasibility study of the need for an Integration Agency to support new migrants, as recommended by the Commission for Integration and Cohesion.

In a further response to the Commission’s report, the first Specialist Cohesion Team Pilot will be launched in Breckland. The Pilot seeks to provide extra government support for areas where migration is considered to have had a particularly strong impact.



Refugee Week is a UK wide programme of events which celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK. 



Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has expressed his “strong disapproval” of the Dungavel Removal Centre and dawn raids on asylum seekers in Scotland to Liam Byrne, the UK immigration minister. This comes after fresh calls to close the centre in light of what human rights groups and churches claim is its detrimental effect on vulnerable women and children.



Two guides with information specifically for and about asylum seekers and refugees have been updated. The new information focuses on work, training and education. The guides were produced by RAGU (Refugee Assessment and Guidance Unit) at London Metropolitan University with one version for advisors and another for their clients. Translations available.

The May edition of the Asylum Support Partnership newsletter is now available and contains articles on Refugee Week and the Saving Sanctuary Report amongst others.



Asylum Update – 4th June 2008


Amnesty International’s 2008 report entitled “Torture: Truth and Consequences” highlights the approach of EU member states to the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

A comparative overview of the implementation of the Reception Directive has been published by the EC-funded Academic Network for Legal Studies on Immigration and Asylum in Europe (Odysseus Network). The study examines whether and how member states have applied the Directive.                           

See also ECRE’s proposals for changes to the Directive and Eurasylum’s interview with the coordinator of the Odysseus Network.

The International Centre for Reproductive Health has published Hidden Violence is a Silent Rape -results of the research project “Prevention of sexual and gender-based violence against refugees in Europe: a participatory approach”.

Journal article (1): A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press, by Baker, P. (et al);  in Discourse and Society Vol 19 No. 3

Journal article (2): Information Development for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies: the Refugee Studies Centre Library in the last decade, by Rhodes, S. in Information Development Vol 24 No. 2


Policy and law

A Ugandan asylum seeking woman, seeking the right to stay in the UK for Aids treatment, has lost the final round of a 10-year legal battle after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

EU Migration Policy: An A-Z is a new descriptive briefing from the Centre for European Reform. 

The Children’s Legal Centre has updated its tables of further and higher education entitlements of asylum-seekers, refugees and persons granted limited leave to remain.


Conference: Moving forward – supporting refugee teachers. Part of the Refugees into Teaching project and the launch event for the Refugee Teachers Network. Leeds, 24 June 2008.

Refuge In Films Festival, 20-22 June 2008, London. The second edition of this festival “dedicated to raising awareness about refugee and migrant issues”. Email for details.

Exodus Shorts Refugee Film Festival 16-22 June 2008 in Manchester and Liverpool.



The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees have been awarded  funding from The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to work to “end the immigration detention of children in the UK within three years” as part of the Fund’s Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative.  


The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture has published its 2007-2008 Annual Review.

In-country processing in Iraq

The US has begun processing claims for asylum in Bagdad and resettling the successful applicants. This article in the New Yorker tells the story. Before this change in policy, Iraqis that had worked for the US in some capacity had to, like all other displaced Iraqis, flee to neighbouring countries and become embroiled in local tensions and bureaucracies in order to receive a decision on resettlement – many are still waiting. The decision to process these claims in the Green Zone means individuals are not asked to give up everything for the remote chance of receiving a positive resettlement decision.

What implications might this have for the future of protection? This blog has discussed previously the often perverse logic of protection through the principle of asylum that forces individuals to leave their homes, families and belongings to embark upon a journey fraught with danger and the risk of exploitation only to arrive in a developed country, receive a negative decision and either have to take their chances in the irregular economy or return to their country of origin with nothing. While there are significant operational and political barriers to developing in-country processing in all conflict situations, in theory it does at least demand less of those in need of protection. Furthermore, there is evidence that resettled refugees are often better received by host populations as they are perceived as ‘more genuine’. Can this policy be expanded without undermining the right of asylum?