New research from a coalition of refugee organisations and human rights campaigners has found that two in every three women and children who the UK would currently accept as refugees would no longer qualify under the new proposed rules.
Under the Government’s New Plan for Immigration, people who have fled war or persecution but who arrived in the UK through unofficial routes, such as those who arrived illegally with false documents, would no longer be accepted as refugees because of their means of arrival. According to an analysis of Home Office data by the Refugee Council, 50% of these people were women and children between 2015 and 2020.
The new campaign by Together With Refugees is urging the government to rethink the proposed rules in the New Plan calling for a more effective, fair, and humane approach to the UK’s refugee system, including the creation of new safe routes. Sabir Zazai, Together With Refugees spokesperson, and a refugee himself, said: ‘Abandoning people fleeing war and persecution, including women and children, is not who we are in the UK,’ adding: ‘These are mothers escaping war-torn Syria, women fleeing sexual violence in Congo or children escaping life-long conscription into the military in Eritrea.’ The campaign’s polling found that more than two-thirds of more than 2,000 Britons agreed that the UK ‘should protect refugees fleeing war and persecution’; and seven out of 10 agreed that we ‘need an asylum system that is effective, fair and humane, so the UK can uphold our responsibility to offer refugee protection to those who need it’.
A Home Office spokesperson has said: ‘We have a responsibility to put the New Plan for Immigration into action so that we can fix the broken asylum system,’ also stating: ‘We make no apology for seeking to fix a system which is being exploited by human traffickers, who are encouraging women and children to risk their lives crossing the Channel.’ Official figures, however, show that many European countries receive more asylum applications than the UK, with Germany, France, and Spain each receiving approximately three times the applications of the UK in 2020. In the year ending September 2020, the UK received 37,550 applications for asylum, Germany received 124,380, France 103,370, Spain 108,225 and Greece 64,185.