Asylum Update – November 20th 2008



The UK Borders Agency has published Asylum Performance – 2007 in which it compares performance to targets, particularly in relation to removals. The report claims the number of refugee claims is at its lowest level since 1993. 


At the same time the Home Office has published its quarterly immigration statistics including asylum for the third quarter of 2007, with supplementary tables also available. See also press release including Ministerial comments.


Papers Please: The Impact of the Civil Penalty Regime on the Employment Rights of Migrants in the UK is the first report in the Migrant Rights Network’s new Migration Perspectives series. See also article in Equal Opportunities Review.

Supporting disabled refugees and asylum seekers: opportunities for new approaches is a new research report produced by ICAR for the Metropolitan Support Trust and the GLA. See also press release, executive summary and launch event report


Journal articles

One Day We Had to Run?: The Development of the Refugee Identity in Children’s Literature and its Function in Education by Julia Hope, in Children’s Literature in Education Vol 39 No 4.

‘The new Europeans’: the image of the African refugee in European literature by Sissy Helff, in African and Black Diaspora Vol 1 No 2.


The Right to Seek – Revisited. On the UN Human Rights Declaration Article 14 and Access to Asylum Procedures in the EU by Gammeltoft-Hansen, T. and Gammeltoft-Hansen, H. in the European Journal of Migration and Law, Volume 10, Number 4.



Policy and law


In the latest Zimbabwean Country Guidance case, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has ruled that Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK unable to demonstrate loyalty to their current government will be at risk of persecution if removed.
The outcome of a Democratic Republic of Congo country guidance case is currently awaited.


A joint response to the draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill has been submitted by the Refugee Councils of England, Scotland and Wales. See also press coverage of evidence submitted by housing charities and the British Medical Association, all highlighting the potential impact on asylum seekers. 


The Refugee Council and the Refugee Legal Centre have submitted a joint response to the Government’s proposals to create a new Tribunal structure for asylum appeals.

See also press coverage on expert witnesses at appeals.




New immigration minister Phil Woolas has criticised lawyers and advocacy groups acting on behalf of asylum seekers in a national newspaper interview. A number of such organisations have responded, including the Immigration Advisory Service 



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.



Press release


Executive summary

Full report

Asylum Update – August 6th 2008


Earned Amnesty: Bringing Illegal Workers out of the Shadows is a new report from the CentreForum think-tank which in arguing for an ‘earned amnesty’ states that asylum seekers to make up a ‘significant proportion’ of undocumented migrants in the UK. See list of press coverage here

Unreasonably Destitute is a new report from the Asylum Support Appeals Project focussing on the nature of access to Section 4 support for refused asylum seekers seeking to leave the UK.

Journal article: EU Immigration and Asylum Policy – The Hague Programme and the way forward by Richard Plender, in ERA-Forum Vol 9 No 2.

The Home Office’s Country of Origin Information Service has published new Country Reports on Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe (the latter with a later Bulletin update) and Key Documents on Burundi, Georgia and South Korea.


Policy and law

The UK Border Agency’s Section 4 Transition to Target Contracts project has ended with all c7,000 asylum seekers supported under Section 4 now in accommodation provided by those public and private organizations awarded regionally-based 5-year ‘target contracts’ to accommodate asylum seekers in 2006. In the project’s final phase 400 Section 4-supported asylum seekers were moved out of London.

The Home Office has released information on ‘Families in Immigration Detention’ under the Freedom of Information Act. The data covers numbers of adults, families and children detained in three centres between September and December 2007.

The August issue of Migrants Rights News carries a ‘critical review’ of The Communities and Local Government Department’s two strategy papers published in July, which covered the local management of migration impacts and its integration policies.

In this recent article, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg tackles the question of limits on refugee family reunification in the light of international agreements.

The EU Commission has begun a consultation on the role of education in supporting the migrant integration of migrants and how migrant children can achieve more. The deadline for comments on the current Green Paper is 31 December 2008.

UNHCR’s Refworld website has created a one-stop access page to the key legal documents, declarations and resolutions from the UN relating to human rights, and major UNHCR policy documents.



Following on from a three-year community project operated by Refugee Action in Liverpool, Nottingham and Bristol, the Refugee Awareness Project has launched an interactive website “for people who support refugees in their communities and want to make their voices heard.”

“Maliamu” is a 15 minute docu-drama which explores the link between managed migration policy and destitution. The film is designed to help small organisations with fundraising and education and is available from the director

Asylum Update – July 30th 2008


Good Intentions: A review of the New Asylum Model and its impact on trafficked women claiming asylum is a new joint research report by the POPPY Project and Asylum Aid.

Birmingham: A City in Need of Hope? analyses the situation of asylum seekers and refugees living in the West Midlands, using the Independent Asylum Commission’s Interim report as a point of departure. The report is written by Lizzy Sharman for Hope08Birmingham.

More Destitution in Leeds by David Brown builds on the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust’s 2007 Destitution Inquiry reports by surveying the same five agencies to see what has changed. See also BBC and Community Care coverage


Policy and law

A ‘UNHCR-NGO Joint European Advocacy Statement on Resettlement’ has been signed in order to encourage governments to support resettlement programmes, promote NGO-UNHCR partnerships in areas of resettlement, and argue for a more active role for NGOs in the resettlement process.

Ten independent human rights experts of the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council have expressed their concerns regarding the EU Returns Directive in a letter to the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


What is a Good Asylum system? National conference in Leeds on 18th October 2008 organised by Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network and both the universities in Leeds. It will “explore the asylum system in the UK from political, practical and academic view-points to see how it could become fair and just.”


The Refugee Council has published two new free multilingual leaflets: ‘Schools for children – information factsheet for refugee parents’ and ‘Sexual health – information factsheet’

The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a guide to cohesion policy and how it can be implemented locally, drawing on the work of the independent Commission on Integration and Cohesion.

Asylum Update – July 23rd 2008


The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has published Community Cohesion and Migration – the results of its inquiry into the effects of migration on local communities and cohesion in England and actions to address these effects.

See also BBC coverage

Integration and Diversity in the UK is a summary of work to date and in progress by the Institute for Public Policy Research on migration, equalities and citizenship. The research project in progress is called ‘Moving up together: promoting equality and integration for the UK’s diverse communities’, and looks at socio-economic disadvantage among some migrant and minority communities.

The Emotional Well-being of Young People Seeking Asylum in the UK by Elaine Chase, Abigail Knight and June Statham presents findings from a study of the perspectives and experiences of children and young people arriving unaccompanied to seek asylum in the UK.

Groups vulnerable to financial exclusion, including refugees and asylum seekers, are the main focus of Financial inclusion in the UK: Review of policy and practice  – a new study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Institutions for the Management of Ethnopolitical Conflict in Central and Eastern Europe is a new book examining the work of eight different international organisations which have become involved in trying to prevent or resolve ‘ethnopolitical’ conflicts.

Policy and Law

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has published its Human Rights Annual Report 2007, which looks at the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to human rights worldwide and contains individual country chapters and recommendations.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the government is “actively looking at what we can do to support Zimbabweans in this country who are failed asylum seekers, who cannot work and who are prevented from leaving the UK through no fault of their own.” This possible policy shift comes in the wake of media coverage about how destitution and removal affect Zimbabwean asylum seekers.

Meanwhile the European Court of Human Rights ruled on 17 July that a Tamil man denied asylum in the UK could not be deported to Sri Lanka because he would risk torture there. The verdict could set a legal precedent, affecting similar pending cases, as the ECHR had asked Britain to suspend 342 procedures pending their ruling.

See ECHR press release and BBC and newspaper coverage

Finally, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has rejected calls for a moratorium on the deportation of failed Iranian asylum seekers, particularly those fearing persecution on grounds of sexual orientation. See press coverage



Exploring Integration: Third Country Migrants in the EU Seminar. Middlesex University, Hendon. Friday 25th July, 10.30-4.30pm. Two new research projects will be launched at this seminar and presentations will look at both the UK situation and recent developments in the EU. Email Rosemary Sales for details.


The British Red Cross has launched ‘Wee Positive Images’ – a new interactive educational toolkit in Scotland to help primary school children better understand asylum and refugee issues and experiences in their classrooms.

Refugees and home country politics

To what extent do refugees and asylum seekers in the UK maintain interest in the political situation ‘back home’? A great deal, if the impassioned contributions from the floor at a recent public debate on the state of the war in Colombia are anything to go by. But research on this question currently appears thin on the ground: a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies this year on the subject notably lacks any case study from the UK, and this working paper on the transnational political engagement by Colombian migrants in the UK and Spain appears to be an exception to this rule. ICAR’s ongoing research into refugee rights and responsibilities seeks to cover this issue amongst many others.

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