A new report published by the Refugee Council today sets out a coherent plan to tackle channel crossings and create a fair and functioning asylum system that delivers order and compassion.
‘Towards a National Refugee Strategy: Our vision for a fair and humane asylum system’ sets out a comprehensive plan including establishing safe ways for refugees to reach our shores, negotiating a deal with France and achieving an agreement with the European Union as well as upholding the right for people to apply for asylum on UK soil regardless of how they arrive.
The proposals outline core strands of a National Refugee Strategy aimed at fostering meaningful international cooperation and making the asylum system fairer and more efficient.
Central to the strategy are key recommendations to provide more safe routes and help stop the criminal gangs who benefit from exploiting vulnerable displaced individuals. These recommendations include:
- Piloting a ‘refugee visa’ that allows people to travel to the UK to apply for asylum.
- Allowing people with family members already in the UK to transfer here from EU member states.
- Allowing children to join wider family members in the UK and removing financial constraints and other barriers that hinder family reunion.
- Allowing people who have been waiting longer than six months for a decision on their asylum claim to work.
The paper also calls for immediate steps to tackle the backlog in asylum claims, including fulfilling Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to clearing the backlog of ‘legacy’ claims by the end of 2023.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:
“The human cost and chaos of the current system have reached shocking levels and we urgently need a new approach. The proposals we set out would go some way towards making the smugglers redundant: when there are safer alternatives for people to travel to the UK to begin their refugee application, the number of people arriving in boats will drop significantly.
“We all want to stop people from making perilous journeys across the English Channel in ill-equipped vessels. But we must remember that nobody makes such a dangerous journey in a flimsy dinghy without good reason. The majority of refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. People who continue their journey to cross over to Britain do so for good reason such as family connections. Many people are not able to make their own decisions about their destination due to the influence and coercion of organised criminal networks.
“By putting in place safe routes, achieving agreements with our French and European neighbours, and treating people fairly and with compassion when they reach our shores, we can establish a very different approach from the inhumanity and disorder the government is overseeing.”