Asylum Backlog Reaches Over 70,000 Despite a Decline In Claims
New data from the Home Office has revealed that over 70,000 people were waiting for a decision on their initial asylum claim in the UK as of June 2021. This means that the asylum backlog is now 9 times higher than it was a decade ago.
The backlog has increased by 73% in just the past two years, despite the fact that the number of asylum applications has been decreasing in this time. In the year ending June 2021 the UK received 37,325 applications for asylum, this number was a 9% decrease on the previous year.
Refugee resettlements practically came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new data also shows that the number or resettlements continues to remain low. In the second quarter of 2021 just 308 refugees were resettled in the UK, significantly lower than the quarterly average of 1,400 from 2016 to 2019.
Source: IAS, https://is.gd/AyXPja
More Concerns Over Use of Former Barracks as Asylum Accommodation
All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention on Monday 6th September, published an important interim report on its inquiry into the Home Office's use of large-scale, institutional sites to house destitute asylum seekers. This week's interim report presents a summary of three oral evidence sessions held with key witnesses in July. A number of serious concerns were raised by witnesses, with the report noting these included "unsanitary, crowded, 'prison-like' conditions at the sites; chronic levels of sleep deprivation; ineffective safeguarding; inadequate access to legal advice and healthcare; problematic changes in the processing of residents' asylum claims; and intimidation and mistreatment of both residents and NGO workers supporting them."
The report notes that the cramped conditions and lack of privacy at the sites meant residents had to hold sensitive discussions with their lawyers within earshot of other residents and staff, which had implications for disclosure, confidentiality and the person's mental health. Sleep deprivation caused by conditions at the sites added further problems. One resident told the APPG inquiry: "I'm mentally and physically drained all the time, and this doesn't put me into the right mindset for engaging with my asylum claim." Mechanisms for identifying and safeguarding vulnerable people before and during their placement at the sites were inadequate, the APPG found.
The report states: "In the absence of effective safeguarding measures, the Home Office appeared to be relying on lawyers and legal interventions to identify vulnerable people. Many vulnerable people had been, and continued to be, moved out of the sites as a result of such interventions, having experienced additional suffering during their stay. It was not acceptable to rely on such interventions as a substitute for proper safeguarding measures, not least given the barriers to effective legal support faced by residents." On the subject of access to legal advice, the report added: "Residents needed legal advice on asylum and public law matters, but faced many barriers in terms of accessing it – and little was being done to address this.
Read more: Electronic Immigration Network, https://is.gd/t0P2Tt