Ministers are today being urged to put in place an urgent task force to tackle the growing crisis in the asylum system.
The Refugee Council says the crisis is entirely of ministers own making – they were warned a year ago that there would be record numbers of people coming across the channel in search of protection but they refused to put in place contingency measures.
They must now take immediate action to alleviate the inhumane conditions at the Manston processing centre and tackle the growing backlog in asylum claims.
The charity has set out a six-point action plan which ministers could immediately put in place:
- Immediately stand up a dedicated and well-resourced task force to clear the 120,000 backlog of asylum claims, which is costing £5.6m a day on hotels
- Convene a summit of refugee and migration experts, local authorities and housing providers to examine options for short and long term accommodation for people seeking asylum
- Quickly put in place good quality reception arrangements with access to health, therapeutic, welfare and legal support to meet all needs on arrival
- Consider options for humanitarian visas which people seeking asylum could apply for at embassies and other official sites
- Urgent talks with the French government and other EU countries to discuss the growing global refugee crisis and to further crack down on people smugglers
- Give people seeking asylum the right to work after six months
Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“This is an appalling and inhumane situation but it can be addressed if ministers are prepared to have focused conversations with organisations such as ours and others. There are ways through this situation, which is causing untold human misery to thousands of vulnerable people fleeing war, persecution and conflict.
“Ministers have deliberately focused on making the system harsh and austere rather than focusing on putting resources and capacity in place to treat people with compassion and respect.
“Behind every case there is a face. For every person risking their life in a boat on the channel or living their life in limbo in a hotel, separated from family, there is a human story. People come to the UK seeking protection because we have a reputation as a country which believes in the right to claim asylum. It is a proud tradition which is being increasingly tarnished by the appalling way in which we are treating people in 2022.”
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