What is happening to the UK's asylum system?
The Nationality and Borders Bill is due to go through parliament this year. This is what that could mean for the UK's asylum system
Earlier this year, the UK government announced a series of planned reforms to the asylum system.
The plan - the Nationality and Borders Bill - is due to go through parliament this year.
What are the proposed changes?
For the first time, people arriving in the UK seeking protection as a refugee would have their claim assessed based on how they arrived into the country.
Under these proposed changes, those who arrive in an ‘unofficial’ way such as via a channel crossing, would no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive under ‘official’ ways, such as through a resettlement scheme.
What does this mean for people seeking asylum?
We are concerned about the effects of these changes. A person seeking asylum here could be prevented from accessing crucial services like welfare support and from reuniting with their family – and at worst, it could make it almost impossible to for them to have their asylum claim heard.
The changes could create a two-tiered system, making it even more difficult for women, men and children to seek protection in the UK.
Why are we worried?
We know that people fleeing violence, war or persecution are often forced to take dangerous journeys – journeys that are made as an absolute last resort. They make them because of a lack of safe and ‘official’ routes and, as we have seen before, to a sometimes tragic end.
People who attempt that journey have already faced unimaginable horrors in their pursuit of safety, and the support they receive should be based on their need for protection, not on how they arrived here.
The proposed changes would be a step backwards for the system, and discriminate against people – many children among them - who have already been through some of the most traumatic experiences in the world.
One per cent of the world’s population is forcibly displaced today. Too many vulnerable women, men and children will be unable to access safe routes - but will risk their lives to come to the UK in search of safety or to be with their family .
What are we doing?
People should have access to the support they need, which includes a safe and secure place to call home. They should be able to move forward with their lives, contribute to society and fulfil their potential.
The UNHCR records show that last year, the UK received just under a third of the number of asylum applications as Germany, and about two fifths the number of France. With one in 97 people in the world currently forcibly displaced, the UK must play its part in finding solutions.
Women, men and children forced to flee their homes should be able to do so without putting their lives at risk.
In 2020 alone, the British Red Cross supported 30,000 destitute refugees and people seeking asylum to access essentials such as food, clothing and sanitary items. We believe that Every Refugee Matters.
We want to see a kinder and more compassionate way to support refugees and we’re calling for you to stand with us by signing our pledge.
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