Our fortnightly summary of advocacy and campaigning initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources from across the asylum, refugee and migration sector. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.
Advocacy and campaigning initiatives
Refugee Ban Bill
The Refugee Ban Bill continues its passage in the House of Lords, with peers putting forward various amendments, including on appeal rights, HMOs, expansion of detention sites, support for victims of modern slavery, access to legal aid and removing Albania from a list of ‘safe states’. The Bill will now move on to Report stage in the Lords on 28 June.
Meanwhile a damning report published by parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights warned the Bill will breach human rights obligations, with key provisions failing to meet the UK’s obligations. Several leading medical groups have warned that child refugees risk developing PTSD if indefinitely detained as proposed by the Bill.
We have updated our #FightTheAntiRefugeeLaws resources for campaigners’ use during Refugee Week. These include a new leaflet outlining the measures in the #RefugeeBanBill and the Nationality and Borders Act; a ‘write to your MP’ postcard; posters; placards; and copies of the Fight the Anti-Refugee Laws Pledge. You can download print-ready versions of the resources here or get in touch with us to request resources.
Communities Not Camps
Following opposition by local politicians and campaigners, plans to warehouse up to 1500 people on a ship on the Mersey in Birkenhead were withdrawn by the Government after Peel Ports, the owner of the Port in Birkenhead, commented that it could see “no conceivable scenario where the local agencies are going to be able to provide the necessary support to make this solution work”.
On Teesside, local refugee organisations, councillors and residents have published an open letter to PD Ports, calling on them to refuse to take part in any plans for a barge at Teesport. In response, PD Ports has shared a public statement outlining that “it simply would not be viable to facilitate any such accommodation to dock at one of our berths”.
In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote to the Home Secretary opposing any plans to place people at London’s Royal Docks “in the strongest possible terms”; whilst the Docks stated the Home Office was informed in May that the location would not be appropriate for any vessel. And in Portland, where the Bibby Stockholm barge is due to be up and running within the month, the Archbishop of Canterbury met with over 100 community leaders and called for a pause after hearing that there had been ‘little to no’ consultation by the Home Office with the local community. Meanwhile campaigners and activists in Falmouth mounted a week of action in opposition to the barge.
Legal action continues around proposed camps on ex-military land at Wethersfield, Essex, and Scampton, Lincolnshire. Meanwhile, Liberty Investigates and the Observer revealed that the Home Office paid Serco at least £1.5 million for services in connection with the previously planned site at Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, which was defeated last year following a concerted local campaign.
You can write to your MP asking them to join the opposition to the use of barges and camps and sign the petition calling on the Government to drop the plans. Please get in touch with us if you’d like unbranded Communities Not Camps posters and placards for any local actions.
Together with Refugees – Hospitality Not Hostility
Together With Refugees is running Hospitality Not Hostility, urging people to organise a community meal or tea and invite their local MP during Refugee Week. More details here.
Three families seeking asylum in the UK have launched legal action against new rules exempting houses of multiple occupation used for asylum accommodation from regulation.
Legal action on use of hotels for unaccompanied children
ECPAT UK has launched a legal action on the lawfulness of placing unaccompanied children in hotels. This follows a ruling in the family court following a case brought by Article 39 where it was clarified that children in Home Office hotels are entitled to the full protection of the Children Act 1989.
Women For Refugee Women campaign against Mitie
Women For Refugee Women’s End Detention group launches a new campaigning action against Mitie, one of the main contract providers of UK detention centres. The campaign is urging big brands which contract Mitie to cease working with the company. You can download the campaign toolkit, use the online tool to write to Ikea, Sainsbury’s and Bravissimo or support the action on social media.
Government and parliamentary updates
Written Ministerial Statement – pause in differentiation policy
In a written statement to Parliament on 8 June, Minister Robert Jenrick announced a pause in the differentiation policy introduced in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, to be introduced in the next package of immigration rules changes in July 2023. Right to Remain has analysis here.
Asylum claims from Sudan added to Home Office’s SAP model
In the same written statement, it was announced that asylum claims from Sudan received between 28 June 2022 and 7 March 2023 would be processed according to the ‘Streamlined Asylum Processing’ (SAP) model, already introduced for claims from several other nationalities. This is intended to allow speedier decisions to be made where appropriate without an interview, or with targeted and shorter interviews.
PAC inquiry into Home Office ‘Asylum Transformation Programme’
The House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee is holding an inquiry into the Home Office Asylum Transformation Programme. Evidence can be submitted until Wednesday 28 June. More information on the enquiry and the call to evidence can be viewed here.
Home Secretary appears before Home Affairs Select Committee
The Home Secretary appeared before the Home Affairs committee and was questioned on the size of the asylum decision making backlog, and measures to remove women who have been trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation. Watch here, or read the news coverage here.
Concerns over Government use of immigration statistics
The fact checking organisation Full Fact has written to Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick asking him to correct the record, after he claimed in Parliament that up to a fifth of adult males claiming asylum pretended to be children, which is not borne out by Home Office statistics.
Government fund to support Ukrainians
A new UK-wide fund of £150m will go to local authorities to help Ukrainians secure private rental housing and find work.
Reports and research
NAO report: Asylum and Protection transformation programme
This report by the National Audit Office states the Home Office needs to better coordinate and manage the impact of the changes it is implementing to address asylum decision making backlogs and cost pressures, with its ability to reduce the backlog and the use of hotels in question. Coverage here.
UNHCR Global Trends Report
The UNHCR has published its annual Global Trends Report, which states that at the end of 2022 104 million people were displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations.
ILPA survey for legal aid practitioners
ILPA has created a short survey for legal aid immigration practitioners to fill to help determine the funding measures which providers consider would be necessary, at this point in time, to sustain a viable practice. They invite one response per organisation.
4. Resources, events, jobs and training
City of Sanctuary Speak up for Sanctuary training
This new programme is designed to support people with little or no previous campaigning experience to recognise their power in making change. The course is for people involved in City of Sanctuary groups or anyone else hoping to turn their compassion into action. Register your free place now.
Event – Safe Housing, Strong Communities: asylum accommodation safety and security
Asylum Matters is working with HOPE not Hate and Safer Foundations to host this afternoon of presentations and discussion on the theme of safety and security around asylum accommodation sites, including hotels, army bases and barges. There will be a particular focus on the impact of the far right on safety for staff, volunteers and service users. We will also hear from community campaigners on what they’re doing to combat hostility. The event is on 12 July 1.30-4.30pm Register your attendance here
Flex is looking for a Research officer. Deadline 21 June
JCWI is recruiting a Grants & Monitoring Manager. Deadline 23 June
GARAS is recruiting a Refugee Resettlement Officer. Deadline 3 July
Justice Together Initiative is recruiting a Grant Partner Community Manager. Deadline 9 July.
What we’ve been reading, watching and listening to
One person has voiced their fears about plans for new sites in Wales following their own deeply traumatic stay at the Penally camp.
A brilliant interview with the RNLI on BBC Radio 4 in which they say they won’t apologise for saving people’s lives, as new figures reveal the charity saved the lives of 108 people crossing the Channel last year. Listen from 1 hour 35 mins
What happens when the first country in which people seek asylum happens to be a UK overseas territory?