06 March 2023

British Red Cross statement on proposed asylum legislation plans

Christina Marriott, executive director of strategy and communications said: 

“It is extremely concerning that this legislation would see people who are fleeing war, violence and persecution unable to seek protection here in the UK, and punished simply for the way they arrive. The reality is that most of these people are forced to make these desperate journeys because it is not possible for them to claim asylum here in any other way.

“What will happen next remains unclear. Potentially thousands of people, from places like Afghanistan and Syria, will be left in indefinite limbo. As well as this devastating human cost, this measure is hugely expensive for the taxpayer.  

“The Home Office knows from its own research that this will also do little to prevent people risking their lives to seek safety. Again and again, we hear from people that they have no prior knowledge of the UK's asylum system, so making it harsher is not an effective strategy. 

“Instead, the Government should focus on addressing inefficiencies in the system. We want to work with Government to create a fairer, more compassionate and effective asylum system. As a nation, we should provide alternatives to these dangerous journeys, improve decision-making to reduce the backlog of applications, and ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect so that they are in a better position to contribute to British society.” 

People with lived experience of the asylum system speak out

The British Red Cross hosts the VOICES network, a group of refugees and people seeking asylum. Together, they speak out about issues that affect them.

Two VOICES ambassadors have also commented on the newly proposed UK legislation on illegal migration:

"For me it's so important that people understand the sheer lack of safe channels to come to the UK to seek asylum. The UK doesn't accept applications from anyone outside the UK, nor do they give anyone a chance to come and present themselves as asylum seekers.

"We need to remember all the many challenges that people seeking safety are fleeing such as political, social, religious, cultural, economic, natural disasters... Calamities, persecutions and injustices that cause people to flee immediately and urgently – and yet the UK government still asks them why they didn't come through the proper channel." – VOICES ambassador 

"The UK will neglect its responsibility before the world in protecting people’s lives in genuine claims for asylum. With this bill - attempting to tackle the backlog of asylum claims – the failures of the UK asylum system will be exacerbated. Detention centres will simply be overwhelmed if people are held indefinitely in inhumane conditions. 

"The political will of creating safe routes like those for Ukraine and Hong Kong is a sample of the UK’s capacity of protecting people from war and persecution. What we ask for is the extension to the grounds of the persecution to all refugees and not the means of arrival. Safe routes are the most effective way to detect and tackle human trafficking." – VOICES ambassador