New Government policy threatens refugees’ futures

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09 Mar 2017

Refugees’ prospects of being able to rebuild their lives in safety and integrate into British life are under threat following the introduction of a new Government policy.

People who the Government recognises as in need of international protection are normally granted refugee status or humanitarian protection which gives them five years’ leave to remain before they are able to apply for permanent settlement. For the majority of refugees, this was a straightforward process which secured their future.

Now the Government has said it will actively review individuals’ cases after five years and assess whether or not is safe for them to be returned to their country of origin.

The change will prolong the anxious limbo many refugees are forced to endure while their asylum claims are processed by a further five years as they worry about their long term futures.

It could also prevent refugees from being able to successfully integrate into British life; with uncertainty surrounding people’s future right to remain in the country exacerbating barriers to accessing employment and education.

The Refugee Council believes that all refugees who are granted asylum should automatically be granted permanent residency. We are calling on the Government to put the futures of refugees first by ensuring that its policies foster successful integration rather than completely undermining it.

Refugee Council Director of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: "This policy will result in refugees who have demonstrated their need for protection being prevented from being able to properly rebuild their lives and being left with the constant fear of return hanging over their heads.

"Actively reviewing individual cases after five years promises to be a costly, bureaucratic and unnecessary nightmare that completely misunderstands the fact that many refugees desperately want to return home of their own accord anyway when it’s safe to do so.”

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