The Refugee Council was quoted in the Guardian this week, after the newspaper received a leaked document about a pilot scheme the UKBA has launched in north-west England as an alternative to child detention. Instead of detaining families prior to removal, families will be given 2 weeks to leave the UK voluntarily. If they fail to go they will be told they will be deported “at some point” within the next two weeks, sometimes without being given a specific date or time to prepare.
At the Refugee Council we would be concerned that if families were given only two weeks to leave the country when they may have been in Britain for many months or even years.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said: “Families must be fully informed of their options throughout the asylum process. At the end of the process, it is imperative that families have enough time to access legal advice to ensure that they will be safe on return, that they can settle their affairs, and, importantly, prepare their children to leave the country. Many of these families will have a well-founded fear about returning to a country where there is conflict or human rights abuses, and we must ensure that they can return safely and in dignity. The welfare of children involved in any return must be paramount.”
The story follows a report published by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of UKBA, last week, disclosing that unnecessary “dawn raids”, which the Refugee Council also responded to.