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 



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.”

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?

Enforced removal in the US

We have discussed several times on this blog the complexity of removing failed asylum seekers that have exhausted all rights of appeal, particularly to areas of the world where the political conditions or social relations are unstable. While removals is the unpalatable aspect of any functioning asylum system, actually carrying them out runs up against a number of obstacles and puts pressure on state apparatus in the sending and receiving country as well as causing immense trauma for the individuals involved.

The UK government has been criticised for some of its treatment of asylum seekers during the removal process, notably for dawn raids and for heavy-handed treatment from security staff. They are yet to go this far in the UK however, as the Washington Post reports that the US authorities have been injecting hundreds of returnees with drugs without their permission to sedate them for the flight home. This reflects not only the difficulty in removing people, but also the ease with which inhumane, the sort of treatment that very few other groups in society would be subjected to, can be so easily meted out to those that have no legal status.

Read ICAR’s Removals briefing for more in-depth coverage on these issues in the UK

Asylum Update – 14th May 2008


The Equality and Human Rights Commission is gathering evidence for its Human Rights Inquiry into how human rights works in Britain. The deadline is 21 June for both employees and users of the public and voluntary sectors to submit evidence.

Journal article: The Human Rights of Failed Asylum Seekers in the United Kingdom by J.A. Sweeney in Public Law 2008

The Refugee Council has published Beyond the School Gates, its report on supporting refugees and asylum seekers in secondary schools.

The TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment has published its findings. A section on asylum seekers recommends the right to work after six months.

Future Floods of Refugees is a new report published by Norwegian Refugee Council on the issue of ‘climate refugees’ escaping environmental disasters in developing countries. See also Foreign Secretary David Milliband’s response to BBC Newsnight on the prospect of such refugees seeking asylum in the UK.

According to Fortress Europe at least 12,059 people have died since 1988 along the European frontiers, including 36 in February 2008.

The European Migration Policy Centre (EMPC) is a new European Commission initiative aimed at linking policy-making and research. It will be set up by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and is due to open in the autumn.

Policy and law

The government has advised local councils to map and monitor local refugee communities as part of a new guide for local authorities aimed at promoting greater community cohesion and integration.

The Refugee Council and Asylum Aid have made available their responses to the UKBA’s consultation over its Code of Practice for Keeping Children Safe from Harm. See also press coverage

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Parliament must have as much a say as member states in designing ‘safe countries of origin’ for asylum seekers.

The European Commission will propose harmonising refugee resettlement practices in the EU member states in the asylum policy plan to be presented in June. The proposal does not however recommend specific quotas. Background: See 2005 ECRE resettlement paper

During discussions over a draft return directive, EU member states have failed to agree the maximum period a migrant can be kept in detention after entering EU territory.


People on the move: The challenges of displacement in the 21st century. International Rescue Committee (UK) annual lecture by António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 7pm, 16th June, London. Details here

Comic Relief-funded refugee integration project Shared Futures launch with the Children’s Commissioner for England. 10am, 17th June, London. Places can be booked by email