03 October 2020

British Red Cross CEO responds to reports the Government considered offshore sites for people seeking asylum in the UK

Mike Adamson writes in The Times, published 3 October, on the need for protection for those fleeing war and persecution after reports the Government is considering housing asylum applicants on small islands and disused cruise liners

Mike Adamson’s letter to The Times is reproduced in full below: 

Dear Sir, 

Far from Britain being the destination of choice for people seeking protection in Northern Europe (The Times view on housing migrants in oil rigs and Priti Patel’s dilemma: Offshore Options), other countries receive many more asylum applications than the UK. Last year more than four times as many people applied in Germany, and three times as many in France.  

What is more, despite the current focus on people making dangerous journeys crossing the Channel in small boats, the Home Office has said themselves that the number of people arriving in the UK has dropped considerably this year.  

The Government needs to get to grips with its own operational challenges rather than reaching for unpalatable, inhumane options – for example, to address the threefold increase in the numbers of people waiting more than 6 months for an asylum decision. This is not because of a threefold increase in asylum claims. 

There are important discussions that need to be had about how the UK provides protection to those fleeing war and persecution, however it’s vital that those conversations are based on fact, not fiction or political rhetoric. This is a global humanitarian challenge and there are no quick fixes.  

In her foreword to the Government’s Windrush Lessons Learned Review, published this week, the Home Secretary said it “exposed institutional failings at the heart of the Home Office” and stated her ambition “to build a fairer, more compassionate, Home Office that put people first and sees the ‘face behind the case’.” 

We welcome this ambition, which surely must rule out ‘options’ of housing vulnerable migrants on oil rigs or far off islands? 

Mike Adamson, CEO of British Red Cross

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