On 13 December 2022, the Government announced some changes to the asylum system. Here we set out our response to the statement made by the Prime Minister.
The government has yet again shown it doesn’t have a workable or principled solution to address the appalling model of people smuggling and the dangerous Channel crossings.
It is simply wrong to say all those crossing the Channel do so without good cause. All the Home Office figures show that in fact the vast majority are desperate women, men and children doing everything they can to protect their families by fleeing war, conflict and persecution.
Without safe routes, they have no choice but to take dangerous journeys. The Prime Minister failed to set out any concrete plans to expand these routes through a resettlement programme or an expansion in family reunion visas.
Instead, this government wants to treat people who come to the UK in search of safety as illegal criminals. This is deeply disturbing and flies in the face of international law and the UK’s commitment as a signatory of the UN Convention on Refugees to give a fair hearing to people who come here in search of safety and protection. Many people from Albania face real danger and persecution – we must not turn our backs on them or any other nationality seeking asylum.
We need a fair, orderly and efficient asylum system that doesn’t leave 150,000 people in limbo waiting months and years for a decision. In his statement, the Prime Minister offered very little in terms of concrete steps to reduce the massive backlog of asylum claims and we remain concerned that his commitment to clear it by the end of next year will not be delivered.
We have outlined recommendations based on our 71 years of expertise working with people seeking protection and stand ready to work constructively with government to reduce the backlog and deliver a fair and humane asylum system.
Every individual matters, every case is different. We work with Albanian women who have fled for their lives in fear of sexual exploitation – we should not turn our backs on them.
It is appalling that Government singles out one country for attention when it really should be more focused on the wider problems in the asylum system. Trying to deflect attention from the mismanagement of the system is inexcusable.
Government has a responsibility to bring communities together. Singling out Albanian men, women and children risks causing division.
Such an approach will sit uneasily with many people, not least because it’s so very simplistic to blithely label a country as safe when in reality it has serious problems with criminal and sexual exploitation of women and children.
You can’t take a blanket approach to issues as difficult and complex as this: behind every case there is a face. We should never forget that.