Ukraine War As of Monday 7th March - UK has Only Granted 50 Ukrainian Refugee Visas
Fifty Ukrainians have been granted visas under a scheme for refugees with family links to the UK, the Home Office has announced. It is about 1% of the 5,535 people who have applied since the programme launched 48 hours earlier. Europe minister James Cleverly said he did not know the exact figures but said numbers would increase "very quickly". The Ukrainian ambassador praised the UK effort but urged for the "maximum" number of people to be admitted.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "doing everything possible" to speed up efforts to issue the travel permits. The UK has steadily increased its visa offer to refugees from the Ukraine war, extending it to parents, grandparents and siblings as well as "immediate family" and extending the visas to three years. But it has faced criticism that its scheme is less generous than the European Union's, while France accused the UK of a "lack of humanity", saying that 150 refugees were turned back at Calais for lacking a visa.
Read more: Joseph Lee, BBC News, https://rb.gy/xdm7ev
The Reality of Priti Patel’s “Bespoke” Humanitarian Routes
On 28 February 2022 the Home Secretary told the House of Commons that a “bespoke humanitarian route” was being introduced for those fleeing the unlawful invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The word refugee was notable in its absence from that and from the subsequent speech a day later. The original announcement amounted to some minor concessions to the existing family visa route, although the position since then has shifted to a slightly more inclusive offer.
A “sponsored humanitarian visa route” has also been announced which requires sponsors to provide housing and integration support. There is no indication of when this will open. It could be months away. Help is needed right now. The government continues to insist that applications are made on official forms and fingerprints registered and official translations of documents provided. This massively slows the process and it simply does not meet the needs of the refugees it is supposed to be helping.
Any or all of these requirements could be waived. The invasion took place on 24 February 2022 and since then the GOV.UK page “UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals” has been updated nine times (as at 6 March 2022). It remains an inadequate response, and the UK government’s lack of generosity in its response stands in stark contrast to that of the rest of Europe.
This is deliberate policy and it does not need to be like this.
Source: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/b1ugyz
Briefing: the (Sorry) State of the UK Asylum System
The United Kingdom’s asylum system has been described by the current Home Secretary as “broken”. There is some truth in that statement. In many ways, the asylum system is now in a parlous state. What the Home Secretary does not say is that it was she who broke it.
In this short briefing we will take a look at the whole of the process, from the numbers claiming asylum to the decision-making process, the cost of the system, the volume and quality of decisions, the outcomes of appeals, the use of detention and the number of removals. The information is drawn mainly from the quarterly immigration statistics and transparency data for the year ended December 2021, the most recent available at the time of writing.
Arguably the stand out problem of the asylum system today is the time it takes for decisions to be made. This is a recent development. The backlog of asylum seekers waiting more than six months for a decision to be made on their case has trebled since Priti Patel took over as Home Secretary in 2019. While the pandemic might have made the issue harder to remedy, the trend began long before it began. It looks like an example of failing to mend one’s roof while the sun shines.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/z3q3nj
Brook House IRC Inquiry: Senior Staff Knew Custody Officers Were Smuggling
The ongoing inquiry into conditions at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre has heard that senior staff likely knew custody officers were smuggling drugs to detainees. A former member of staff at the removal centre, which was subject to an investigation by BBC Panorama in 2017, has alleged that management ‘knew who was bringing in drugs, but they were not doing anything about it’. The inquiry has heard that the availability of drugs within Brook House, in particular spice and cannabis contributed to the poor mental health of detainees. As previously reported by the Justice Gap, several former staff members have alleged that custody officers themselves smuggled drugs and other contraband into the centre.
Shayne Munroe, speaking to the inquiry triggered by the Panorama documentary, said her reports of drugs and other contraband went unheeded: ‘Whenever a detainee told me about staff bringing in drugs or contraband, I submitted an SIR [Security Information Report]. I never saw that anything was done (e.g., increased staff searches when entering the building) and I came to the view that the security team and senior management must have been aware that it was going on but were choosing to ignore it.’ She also told the panel that staff were not searched on entering the premises, indeed that she was only searched once during her 18 month tenure: ‘Brook House policies seemed to make no impact on drugs entering the centre. In my view the volume of drugs that were available could not have entered solely through visitors, which meant that somewhere in the process Brook House policies were being broken.’
The inquiry has also heard allegations of racism and bullying by staff at the centre, with Munroe stating during this hearing that she was accused of smuggling in drugs herself: ‘It was assumed that I was involved in drugs because I was a black woman from South London.’ Further former staff members and detainees of Brook House are due to give evidence in this second stage of the hearing, with the panel re-convening next week.
Read more: Samantha Dulieu, Justice Gap, https://rb.gy/aakoj2
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - March 2022
Deteriorated Situations: Chad, Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Libya
Serious Deterioration: Ukraine, Belarus
Improved Situations: none - Resolution Opportunities: None
Conflict Risk Alerts for March: Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Iran, Libya
Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. As Russian forces continue their assault in the face of resistance, the conflict could further intensify, with major repercussions beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Marathon negotiations involving Iran, the U.S. and other world powers reached an inflection point that will determine whether the 2015 nuclear deal is revived or collapses.
After Libya’s eastern-based parliament announced it had appointed a new prime minister and approved his cabinet, the country faces a high risk of institutional division with two rival governments vying for power.
Deadly political violence in Zimbabwe, which erupted in February, could escalate around by-elections scheduled for 26 March.
A controversial phone call discussing plans to destabilise Chad surfaced on social media, fuelling tensions between N’djamena and Bangui, and straining progress to hold a pre-dialogue initiative between Chadian authorities and armed groups.
Gunfire near the government palace in Guinea-Bissau gave rise to competing narratives and exposed the fragility of President Sissoco Embaló’s seat.
Aside from the conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked notable developments in Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Nile Waters.
Read more: International Crisis Group, https://rb.gy/uerrfx
International Agreement Route for Temporary Workers Coming to the UK
The International Agreement visa route is for temporary workers who want to come to the UK to provide a service underpinned by international law. Essentially, international agreements ratified by the United Kingdom require the United Kingdom to have these immigration routes. There are three categories: Private servants in diplomatic households or in the households of officials working for recognised international organisations; Employees of overseas governments and recognised international organisations; Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals – that is, workers coming to the UK to service a contract under specific international trade agreement commitments under which the UK has relevant commitments.
Previously, the International Agreement route was a sub-category of the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) route in Part 6A of the Immigration Rules. Under the ‘new’ Immigration Rules, the rules can now be found in Appendix Temporary Work – International Agreement. In this brief guide, we’ll focus on contractual service suppliers as this is probably the most popular of the three categories. In Spring 2022, the contractual service supplier category will be rebranded in one of the five pathways available in the new global mobility visa. Don’t worry, this guide is still relevant and applicable! The government’s 2021 Strategy Statement confirms that the requirements for the route are very likely to remain the same.
Dependent family members can apply to come to the UK in this route, but it does not lead to settlement.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/yl1j8r