In response to the Archbishop - Refugee Council
February 2, 2003

In response to the Archbishop

In response to today’s interview in the Sunday Times with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Fazil Kawani, Director of Communications at the Refugee Council said:

“We agree with the Archbishop that there are real fears about security that need to be addressed.

“However, as the Government has pointed out, a policy of detaining all asylum seekers on arrival will do little to improve our security as organised terrorists do not use the asylum system to evade the authorities. Asylum seekers in the UK are currently screened, fingerprinted, issued with ID cards and security checked.

“The UK already has the worst detention record of asylum seekers in Europe. We detain more people, for longer and with less scrutiny than any other EU state. Detaining all asylum seekers – women and children included – would be expensive, impractical and wrong.

“What people want to know – and have a right to know – is what the real problems in the asylum system are and what should be done to address them. Our five point plan is the first serious set of proposals in recent weeks putting forward much-needed, cost effective and achievable reforms.”

The Refugee Council’s Five-Point plan:

  1. The Government must concentrate on producing fair and fast decisions on asylum claims
  2. The Government should immediately restore welfare support to destitute asylum seekers.
  3. The Government has proposed that all asylum seekers be put through a 7 day induction process.
  4. Following induction, asylum seekers should be housed in small centres in urban areas
  5. Asylum seekers should be allowed to work while their asylum claim is being assessed.