Asylum Seekers on Hunger Strike Over Conditions at Kent Barracks Site
Hundreds of asylum seekers are reportedly on hunger strike at a former army barracks in Kent being used as temporary housing, amid allegations conditions at the site are worsening. About 400 men are being held at the Napier barracks site near Folkestone, which has been used as temporary accommodation since September and has faced calls for closure after allegations of cover-ups, poor access to healthcare and legal advice, and crowded conditions. On Monday 11th January, about 350 men went on hunger strike at the barracks in protest at lack of information on their asylum claims, the impact of crowding on their risk of catching Covid-19, and poor hygiene, volunteers said. Videos and pictures show broken toilets and out-of-order sinks in the bathrooms.
Some men are refusing to sleep indoors and are outside in freezing temperatures in sleeping bags, while the Guardian also understands that at least two men have attempted suicide in the last week. Kent Police was called to assist the South East Coast Ambulance Service with a medical incident at around 2pm on 8 January. Dozens of residents staged a protest at the gates of the barracks on Tuesday, shouting “freedom” and hoisting banners with warnings about lack of social distancing and mental health problems, as police officers watched. Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “We’re extremely worried about the asylum seekers held in Napier barracks. The conditions they are being kept in are cramped, stressful and dangerous. Asylum seekers have fled terrifying dangers, wars and persecution. They need support and protection – instead our government is treating them with cruelty.
Read more: Jamie Grierson, Guardian, https://is.gd/sdoQSE
Caroline Nokes: ‘Inhuman’ Approach to Immigration Will Not Work and Cost More
The government’s “inhuman” approach to immigration will only cause further problems and end up costing the taxpayer more money, a former Home Office minister has said. Caroline Nokes, who left her role as immigration minister in July 2019, laid out a damning indictment of her former department’s direction of travel, describing it as “profoundly depressing” and at times “hideously wrong”. In an interview with The Independent, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North accused ministers of “paying lip service” to Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned report on the Windrush scandal – which broke while she was in office – and said they were failing to put people at the heart of Home Office policy, as was recommended in the review.
The MP condemned the approach that the minister Chris Philp and the current home secretary, Priti Patel, have taken to the asylum system. She said the increasingly “brutal” response risked “whipping up an unpleasant reaction to some very vulnerable people”, as well as creating legal and financial problems for ministers in the future. Ms Nokes said commitments to change the Home Office following the Windrush scandal had been “torn up, disregarded and rendered clearly completely irrelevant” when making decisions about asylum seekers. “I don’t know where we go next from here. I think it’s a great shame that they aren’t being more compassionate towards some really vulnerable people,” the former minister said.
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://is.gd/cWPyMn
Tactic Training on 'No Recourse to Public Funds' ( NRPF)
The NRPF condition - that people are allowed to enter or stay in the UK as long as they do not access ‘public funds’ - has led to families being separated and living below the poverty line. The training looks at the history of how the condition has been used to exclude and undermine people’s stability in the UK, its current application and impact and the challenges that have and are being made to it. The training on No Recourse to Public Funds also looks at the ways in which people are held in a precarious financial position for many years as a result of successive Conservative Home Secretaries extending the time before people can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Added to which are the excessive fees and delays in applications being processed. The No Recourse to Public Funds condition isn't just about the condition itself. It's the whole underlying narrative of 'undeserving' that needs opening up.
Free for people who are seeking asylum or are undocumented. Booking is by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about training and support for organisations that work with people in a precarious immigration position, go to https://tactic.org.uk/
Mother Seeking Asylum in UK Appeals Father’s Application to return Her Child to South Africa
G is an only child of divorced parents. Until February 2020, her parents lived near to each other in South Africa. However, after telling friends that she was lesbian, G’s mother began to experience persecution from her family in South Africa. As a result, she fled to England with G and made an application for asylum.
Upon discovering that G had been taken to England, G’s father made an application for her return under the 1980 Hague Convention. At first instance, Lieven J held that the father’s application for a return order should be stayed pending the determination of G’s mother’s asylum claim. The Court of Appeal considered that, in the circumstances, the High Court was not barred from determining the father’s application for a return order, nor was it barred from making such an order. The mother now appeals to the Supreme Court.
The issues are: (1) Does a child named as a dependent on a parent’s asylum application have any protection from refoulement? (2) Can a return order be made under the 1980 Hague Convention even where a child has protection from refoulement? (3) Should the High Court be slow to stay an application under the 1980 Hague Convention prior to determination of an application for asylum?
A Law to Give Non-British NHS Workers Indefinite Leave to Remain Axed
A law to give non-British NHS workers indefinite leave to remain was effectively axed by the Tory government last week. Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine tabled the Immigration (Health and Social Care Staff) Bill 2019-21, which was due for its second reading on this Friday 15th January. But the Government have decided to axe all sitting Fridays until the end of March, meaning dozens of Private Members Bills will effectively be killed off.
Ms Jardine’s Bill proposed that all health and social care staff from outside the EU would be granted indefinite leave to remain, giving the peace of mind about their immigration status and granting them rights enjoyed by British citizens. Christine Jardine MP said: “Like the rest of our wonderful NHS and care staff, hundreds of thousands of people from other countries are on the frontlines of the Covid pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we get the care we need. “The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it. That’s what my Bill would do, and I am deeply disappointed that the Government is not even letting it be debated in Parliament. I am not giving up.”
Family Reunion in the UK Post-Brexit
Prior to the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK was subject to Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (the “Dublin III Regulation”) which determined which participating EU member state was responsible for examining applications made by asylum seekers. The Regulation allows for the transfer of asylum seekers from the UK to another EU member state, or vice versa, for the purposes of having their asylum claim considered in the receiving state. In some instances, the state responsible for examining an asylum claim will be the state in which the asylum seeker has separated family members or relatives with whom they are seeking to reunite.
However, the UK ceased to be bound by the Dublin III Regulation as of 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020. This means that the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) is no longer able to arrange the transfer of asylum seekers from or to the UK, including those who wish to reunite with family members. Only family reunion applications submitted in the UK prior to Brexit will be considered under separate legislation, namely, the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.
Instead, asylum seekers who may have previously been eligible to transfer to the UK for family reunion purposes under the Dublin III Regulation may now seek to do so only under existing routes within the UK Immigration Rules (“the Rules”).
Read more: Gherson Immigration,https://is.gd/1Ox4DY
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - January 2021
Deteriorated Situations: Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mozambique, Nepal, Ukraine, Iraq
Conflict Risk Alerts: Central African Republic, Somalia, Uganda
Resolution Opportunities: None
In the Central African Republic, deadly fighting involving armed groups allied with former President François Bozizé broke out ahead of the 27 December general elections. Disputed vote tallies could spark another dangerous cycle of violence. In Uganda, political tensions ran high ahead of the 14 January general elections, and the violent crackdown on the opposition could escalate. Electoral disputes in Somalia delayed the legislative polls and threaten to derail February’s high-stakes presidential election. As we have warned, a disrupted contest could fuel political discord, which Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State might then exploit.
In Iraq, mass protests spread into the Kurdish region amid clashes between Kurdish armed factions. Notably, the Kurdish Peshmerga and members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units exchanged fire for the first time. Violence erupted in the disputed border area between Ethiopia and Sudan, with Khartoum reclaiming large swathes of territory. In a major show of force, and after weeks of political tensions, DR Congo’s President Félix Tshisekedi announced the end of the ruling coalition he had formed with his predecessor Joseph Kabila. In Niger, jihadists launched one of their deadliest attacks on civilians in years, killing dozens ahead of the 27 December general elections.
Read more: Internatinal Crisis Group, https://is.gd/JVNDCr
Briefing: New UK Approach to Refugees and Safe Third Countries
The government has introduced important new rules on the handling of claims for asylum with effect from 1 January 2021. Guidance for Home Office asylum caseworkers was published the day before, on 31 December, fleshing out some of the operational details. What is not in the policy document is as revealing as what is. The headline is that any person who travelled to the UK through a safe country will have their asylum case declared inadmissible and in theory face removal to any other safe country around the world willing to accept them. The likely reality of what happens in practice is very different: more delays in the asylum process and very few if any third country removals.
My overall impression is that the rules are completely unworkable as they stand, even if there were removal agreements with other countries. Which there are not, and a person cannot be sent to a country of which they are not a citizen without the agreement of that country. The rules build in an automatic period of delay in the processing of new asylum claims and are replete with opportunities for legal challenge. But I do not think the civil servants who drafted them expect the rules to be “workable” in the sense of removals actually taking place to safe third countries. The rules are about politics and presentation, not governance.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/QWaKlR
Briefing: Immigration and Nationality Options for Children in Care
Children may arrive in the care of local authorities without British citizenship or UK immigration status. They and their social workers may not realise there is an issue until, for example, the child has a school trip abroad and needs a passport; until they apply to university; or until they leave care and need to find work, accommodation and so on. Inaction can have disastrous consequences.
This post looks at the options for regularising the immigration status of a child in care. Some options are open to all children, while others are specifically for children in care. As usual, it won’t be possible to set out every possible scenario, and so this post will only cover the issues that lawyers, social workers and foster carers are likely to encounter most frequently.
For most (but not quite all) children, British citizenship is the most desirable outcome. British citizenship is the most permanent of statuses and, in all but exceptional cases, protects the child from removal or deportation later in life. Children can be born British or register as British (they cannot naturalise, as naturalisation is for over-18s only). The rules on acquiring citizenship by birth or registration are found in the British Nationality Act 1981, and in Home Office guidance.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/ooeASW