Original article from Kent Live
Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) has joined a new campaign coalition that is pushing the government to reconsider reforms to the UK's asylum system.
'Together With Refugees', which launched on June 1, has members including the British Red Cross, Asylum Matters, Freedom from Torture and the Refugee Council.
It is opposed to new reforms proposed by Priti Patel's Home Office, and launches in a year that has already seen major controversies surrounding the UK's handling of asylum seekers.
The Home Office is currently being sued by an asylum seeker who lost her child whilst living in government-provided accommodation, and has come under repeated fire for continuing to house refugees in Folkestone's Napier Barracks.
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Napier Barracks was previously described as "unfit for human habitation" by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Meanwhile a coronavirus outbreak saw more than half of its residents contract the virus – and there were reports that some living there had even attempted suicide due to the camp's conditions.
2 in 3 women and children could be turned away
Together With Refugees says that 72 per cent of people in the South East agree that the UK needs an asylum system that is effective, fair and humane, so it can uphold its responsibility to offer refugee protection to those who need it.
The campaign has released new figures revealing that two in every three women and children that the UK would be accepted as refugees now, would be turned away in future under proposed new government rules.
It was also shown that women and children make up half of people currently accepted as refugees each year in the UK.
KRAN is a registered charity which has been working with refugees in the county for 18 years.
It works mostly with young people who have arrived in the county as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and aims to provide the support they need to live happy and healthy lives.
The charity joins the Together With Refugees campaign alongside more than 200 national and grassroots groups across the country who are calling for a more effective, fair and humane approach to the UK’s asylum system.
Bridget Chapman, spokesman for KRAN said: “We believe that refugees fleeing war and protection in their own countries should feel welcome, respected and understood as members of a caring community, and so do the majority of people in the region.
"That’s why we are proud to join Together With Refugees.
"Because that’s who we are in Kent.
“We back Together With Refugee’s call on the government to rethink its new proposals and stand up for people’s ability to seek safety in the UK, including those who had to find any route they could to escape danger.”
Zainab Hossaini, a young refugee, said: “I support Together With Refugees because these changes will affect many people.
"Someone like me might not be accepted as a refugee if these changes become law.
"If people need somewhere safe we should help them.”
Why KRAN opposes the new changes
If agreed by the UK Parliament the new rules would mean that most people who would be accepted as refugees under the current rules – meaning those confirmed to have fled war or persecution following rigorous official checks – would no longer have their rights recognised in the UK due to their method of arrival.
It is thought half of those affected would be women and children. This is despite the Home Secretary’s statement saying: “We should ask ourselves, where are the vulnerable women and children that this system should exist to protect?”
The new analysis of official figures also found that in recent years the top five countries people flee from and are accepted as refugees in the UK are:
- Iran for fear of torture, violence and persecution including against women and girls, LGBT people and religious minorities
- Sudan, due to conflict, particularly in Darfur
- Syria where war has torn the country apart for a decade
- Eritrea, to escape enforced conscription into the military or civil service indefinitely and sometimes for life
- Afghanistan to flee conflict and threats from the Taliban including because of their links with western forces including the British Army
Almost nine out of 10 (85 per cent) of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries and seven out of 10 (73 per cent) live in neighbouring countries to their country of origin
In Europe, many countries receive more applications for asylum than the UK.
In 2020 Germany, France and Spain each received approximately three times the applications of the UK.
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Together With Refugees is a growing coalition of more than 200 national and local organisations who believe in showing compassion to refugees fleeing war and persecution.
It was founded by Asylum Matters, British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, Refugee Action, Refugee Council and Scottish Refugee Council.
The coalition is calling for a more effective, fair and humane approach to the UK’s refugee system that:
- allows people to have a fair and efficient hearing for their claim for protection, including those who endured traumas and struggle to get here
- Ensures people can live in dignity in communities while they wait to find out if they will be granted protection
- Enables refugees to rebuild their lives and make valuable contributions to their communities.
- Where the UK works with other countries to do its part to help people forced to flee their homes.