City Hall launch of ICAR research on disabled refugees and asylum seekers

ICAR’s new research into levels of support for disabled refugees and asylum seekers was launched at London’s City Hall on 14 November. The research was commissioned by the Metropolitan Support Trust (MST) and supported by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

 

A full house of 100+ participants including many of the organisations and individuals who participated in the research, spanning central and local government, statutory providers, and disabled, refugee and BAME organisations. The event was chaired by ex Minister for Immigration Barbara Roche, now chair of MST.

 

ICAR director Neil Amas introduced the research and highlighted two key findings: the gap in support for this group from mainstream disability organisations, with the strain being picked up largely by refugee community organisations; and the profound effect a disabled person’s immigration status has on the level of support they receive.

 

Claire Glasman, representing the women’s disability organisation WinVisible, raised her organisation’s concerns that many disabled asylum seekers experience extreme hardship due to restrictions in income, prevention from employment, denial of services and discrimination.

 

Jhon Marulanda for refugee community organisation the Latin American Disabled Peoples Project focussed on the difficulties users of the Project had in accessing statutory services such as GPs and Job Centres. He claimed that staff at these places often do not understand the rights and entitlements of disabled refugees and asylum seekers. 

 

Disabled asylum seeker Iman Saab described the hardships of not being allowed to work, and instead having to get by on supermarket vouchers and subsistence payments from social services as opposed to normal disability benefits.

 

According to deputy mayor Richard Barnes, the research findings would ‘frame our vision’ in regard to the GLA’s equalities agenda. He also confirmed that in March 2009 the new four year Refugee Integration Strategy for London would be ready and, following regional policy elsewhere, a London Strategic Migration Partnership would replace the old Board for Refugee Integration in London.

 

In the discussion a number of the research findings were revisited, such as the effect of status on access to support, as evidenced by the recent Slough judgement on local authority support for disabled asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds, and by the increase in passport checks at GPs’ surgeries. Culturally appropriate training for frontline staff was one strongly supported recommendation, especially for NHS staff. Contributors to the discussion included social workers, the chair of NHS London Strategic Health Authority, and advocacy and campaigning groups. 

 

Finally the participants broke up into workshops to discuss three of the report’s main recommendations, around refugee and asylum seeker access to mainstream disability organisations; relevant training across different types of organisations; and a proposed review of Home Office policies.

 

See:

Press release

 

Executive summary

Full report

Asylum Update – 23 October 2008

Research

UNHCR has published Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, covering the first half of 2008.

The Home Office has published its immigration statistics including asylum figures for the second quarter of 2008.

What Are They Doing Here? A Critical Guide to Asylum and Immigration by Peter Fell and Debrah Hayes (Venture 2007) is reviewed in Vol 8 No 4 of the Journal of Social Work.

 

Policy and law

The European Council comprised of EU heads of state and the president of the Commission has adopted the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. See EUObserver coverage.

The UK Border Agency has now awarded contracts for the Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES). The service is for over-18s with refugee status or humanitarian protection and started up on 1 October 2008.

See also the Refugee Council’s new Multilingual Leaflets for New Refugees on housing, welfare rights and training and employment. 

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has announced an independent inquiry into claims by asylum seekers that they were mistreated or abused by security and detention centre staff, following publication in July of the Outsourcing Abuse report. See also press coverage

 

Events

Two new research reports into Chinese migration to Britain will be launched on 14 November at Middlesex University’s Hendon Campus. The reports are ‘Cityscapes of Diaspora: Images and Realities of London’s Chinatown’ and ‘The Changing Chinese Community in London’. Further information from Professor Rosemary Sales

News

Following a cabinet reshuffle, Phil Woolas has replaced Liam Byrne as Minister of State for borders and immigration.

 

Resources

A new interactive website developed by the Institute of Community Cohesion (ICoCo) and supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government, brings together practical advice and support for practitioners on how to promote cohesion and integration, based on good practice cases.

Radio 4 interviews with some of the young asylum seekers who contributed to the ‘New Londoners’ book of photographs.

Asylum Update – 24th September 2008

 

Research

Call for papers to be included in panel on ‘Is humanitarianism compatible with refugee rights?’ at the World Conference of Humanitarian Studies, February 2009, The Netherlands.

The Journal of Refugee Studies Vol 21 No 3 contains Back to Basics: The Conditions of Just Refugee Returns by Megan Bradley.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has published Access to Protection at Airports in Europe, a report on monitoring at 5 airports.

UNHCR has published an Evaluation of UNHCR’s returnee reintegration programme in Angola

 

Policy and law

The Council of Europe has presented the first of three memoranda on asylum and immigration in the UK. It is based on visits this year, and issues addressed include children, the detention of asylum seekers and forced returns. See also BBC coverage and the Welsh Children’s Commissioner on the treatment of asylum seekers’ children.

The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) has published a new policy paper entitled ‘The French Presidency’s European Pact on Immigration and Asylum: Intergovernmentalism vs Europeanisation? Security vs Rights?’

The Report on UNHCR’s Annual Consultations with Non-Govermental Organisations is now out. The consultations included a session on Europe which addressed the Common European Asylum System.

 

Events

A conference will be held to evaluate Refugee Week 2008 and make specific recommendations for Refugee Week 2009. It takes place at Amnesty International in London on Friday 21 November 2008.