Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - August 2022
Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Iraq
Jihadist attacks in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, including the Islamic State West Africa Province’s storming of a prison, confirmed the militants’ ability to strike far beyond their North East strongholds.
Amid stalled government formation efforts in Iraq, tensions among rival Shiite factions escalated as cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters stormed parliament in the capital Baghdad.
In Myanmar, the regime conducted the country’s first judicial executions since 1988, provoking widespread condemnation and jeopardising international efforts to address the crisis.
Turf wars between gangs in Haiti killed over 300 people and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, forcing thousands to flee their homes and leaving many more trapped without enough food, water or medical supplies.
In Uzbekistan, demonstrations in the autonomous Karakalpakstan region against the government’s proposed constitutional amendments turned violent as police clashed with protesters, killing at least 18 people.
Last, our conflict tracker welcomes one improvement in July.
In an important step toward national reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire, President Ouattara met with former presidents Gbagbo and Bédié in the first trilateral meeting since the 2010-2011 post-election crisis.
Aside from the scores of conflict situations we usually assess, we tracked notable developments in July in Brazil, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda and Togo.
Conflict Risk Alerts for August - Taiwan Strait, Yemen
Monthly conflict tracker highlights one conflict resolution opportunity and two conflict risk alerts in August.
In Yemen, warring parties could agree to extend the UN-mediated truce beyond its 2 August expiry. Failure to prolong it risks a return to front-line fighting as well as cross-border hostilities between the Huthis and Saudi Arabia.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan in August raises the risk of an unintended crisis between the U.S. and China, after Beijing in July threatened a military response.
Source: International Crisis Group
British Government Failing Afghan Refugees
Afghan citizens trying to escape the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan have become caught up in the UK government’s latest attempt to revise refugee policy. They face significant obstacles in obtaining adequate protection. Those who have no choice but to flee for their lives and travel without documents have their applications placed on hold for six months or more, while the Home Secretary pursues their removal to another country.
In practice, this broadly seems to mean treating people fleeing war and persecution more like they are economic migrants applying for a visa and making them navigate a series of administrative obstacles. In comparison, Ukrainian refugees have a dedicated helpline to support with their visa inquiries and applications are processed at a faster pace and have low documentation requirements.
The major delays and the unresolved backlog of asylum cases at the Home Office is much worse than is being reported. The Home Office immigration statistics illustrate that from January to June 2021, only 489 out of 1,089 Afghans were ?granted protection outside of the two main schemes.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/ncqpk1
Rwanda Plan Leaves Asylum Seekers Feeling ‘Hopeless’
Since the premise of the policy is based on the threat of deportation to Rwanda, and claimants have been issued with notices of their removal, the threat is certainly alive among the asylum seeker community. Since the day it was announced, many asylum seekers I work with have been asking, “Will they send me?”. Indulging the hypothesis that the plan will only become effective once flights to Rwanda get started, it’s important to consider what deterrence would mean.
Firstly, Home Office statistics show that more than 70 per cent of those claiming asylum this year received a positive decision on their claim, which means the majority of asylum seekers are considered to be ‘genuine’ refugees. Of those whose claims are rejected, many go on to later win appeals challenging the decision. Many of the people who make it to the UK are the ones who escaped when families, friends and whole communities did not. Deterring them from seeking refuge is essentially telling them they should have stayed in places where they could have been tortured, illegally detained or killed.
An obvious counter-argument is that asylum seekers could seek refuge elsewhere. It could be argued that the UK isn’t saying ‘stay where you are,’ but simply ‘don’t come here.’ The problem with this approach is that it compromises the principle of an international, unified response to refugees, codified in the Refugee Convention. The refugee regime relies on the acceptance of shared responsibilities to refugees.
Read more: Anonymous, Asylum Support Worker, https://rb.gy/yica7h
Number of Asylum Seekers Housed in Hotels Trebles in 2021 to 26,000
In its new and expanded report, the Refugee Council finds the situation has not improved, but rather worsened. The report states: "Unfortunately, a year on, the report findings confirm that people seeking asylum continue to experience the same issues whilst living in hotel accommodation, facing barriers and delays when they raise problems with relevant authorities. It is of huge concern that the scale of the issue is now significantly greater, as the hotel population almost tripled over the course of 2021 with 26,380 people accommodated in hotels across the UK at the end of 2021.
"Following the publication of the Refugee Council's previous report, the Home Office announced its intention to move people from hotels into dispersal accommodation under 'Operation Oak'. However, over the course of 2021, limited progress was made, as Operation Oak failed to meet its objective of moving people out of hotels by the end of summer 2021. Rather than reducing the overall hotel population, the number of people being accommodated in hotels has continued to increase."
At the end of 2019, less than 1,500 asylum seekers were accommodated in 24 hotels compared to 207 hotels housing over 25,000 asylum seekers just two years later.
Read more: EIN, https://rb.gy/luvjc5
Advocacy: How to Persuade Decision Makers
How do you persuade a Home Office caseworker to grant your client’s asylum or immigration application? Or persuade a judge to allow your client’s appeal? The answer is: advocacy. Advocacy – whether written or oral – is the art of persuasion. I am by no means an expert. However, having spent the last nine months training to be an advocate (the Scottish equivalent of a barrister), I thought I would share my top 10 advocacy tips. I cannot take credit for any of them. They are all things I have read or been told over the course of my training with the Faculty of Advocates. Advocacy is not just making submissions in court. When you write a letter of representation to accompany a visa application, you are also engaging in advocacy. The tips below apply equally to oral and written advocacy so they will hopefully be of use even to those who never present cases in courts or tribunals.
Simplify things wherever possible: Immigration law is complicated. This is something we go on and on about on Free Movement. However, focusing on this broader complexity will rarely further your client’s cause. Decision makers don’t like complexity.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/kr2vt6
What Will Be the Impact of the Bill of Rights Bill on Immigration Cases?
The current/outgoing government on 22 June 2022 introduced to Parliament the Bill of Rights Bill. For those (like me) who have been struggling to keep up with the news of late, the legislation will, if it becomes law, scrap and entirely replace the Human Rights Act. The Bill of Rights Bill does not withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Convention on Human Rights. It does not end the principle that domestic judges here in the United Kingdom can and must give effect to convention rights. It does not exempt public authorities from compliance with human rights law. Nor does it do away with declarations of incompatibility by the courts.
At least, it mainly doesn’t do these things. I will return to that.
What it does do is seek to limit the scope of judges to apply human rights law in certain ways. Several clauses or subclauses of the legislation are devoted to the pet hates of right wing political activists. One clause is devoted to freedom of speech. Another to overseas military operations. Others address positive obligations, the role of Parliament, who can bring challenges and more. It reads as Daily Mail headlines literally made law. Inevitably, some of these clauses are devoted to the ultimate right wing bête noir, the deportation of foreign criminals.
Deportation and private and family life
There are two clauses of the Bill of Rights Bill dealing directly with deportation. The first is clause 8, entitled ‘Article 8 of the Convention: deportation’. The clause applies specifically to deportation, not to other forms of immigration control. Usually, the deportation procedure is used in respect of foreign criminals. It is not limited to those with convictions, though; it can be and is used against any foreign national the Home Secretary considers it to be ‘conducive to the public good’ to deport.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/bvo0y0
The 'Butchers Apron' ~ aka the 'Union Jack
Why 'No-Deportation' are not supporting the Commonwealth Games
The vast majority of people who make it to the UK, seeking asylum come from former British Colonies. Countries that the UK plundered of natural resources and when forced to depart, left most of the countries in political/economic turmoil the ramifications of which still bedevil these countries today.
The legacy of the British Empire MUST be front and centre when we make arguments about the injustice of immigration controls. "we are here because you were there and are still there" is critically relevant.
Britain with brutal and violent oppression colonized over 57 countries mostly in the 16th/17th/18th centuries. None of the countries asked to be colonized and most of them had to resort to bloody and violent insurgency to drive the British out and gain their freedom/independence back.
To the majority of those colonized the Union Jack was known as the 'Butchers Apron'. Though Britain boasted the sun never set on the British Empire, it would be more true to say, 'the sun never set and the blood of innocents never dried.'
Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes
Thousands of papers detailing shameful acts were culled, while others were kept secret illegally. Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded. Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.
Read more: The Guardian, 18/04/12
Most of the countries after throwing of the shackles of Britain became part of the British Commonwealth; now an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states, all but two of which were formerly part of the British Empire.
Did the 'Commonwealth' bring peace and economic prosperity, to the people of these nations? Not at all, the Wealth was only common to the rich and all that changed for the indigenous populations; was the color of the flags that flew over them and the accents of their 'masters'.
Read a lot more: