Government defeated on Lords amendments

April 28, 2016 by  
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Still human still hereLords Dubs’ compromise amendment was passed by 279 votes to 172. It will ensure the relocation of  “a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe” to be determined by the Government in consultation with local authorities.
Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment on time limits on detention was passed by 271 votes to 206 and a further amendment regarding the detention of pregnant women tabled by Baroness Lister was also passed by 259 votes to 203. Read more

The Business of Migration

April 26, 2016 by  
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G4SSYMAAG: For corporations like G4S, Serco, Capita and Mitie the suffering of refugees is part of their “asylum markets”. The biggest ever single Home Office contract – the disastrous COMPASS asylum housing contract –  is up for renewal next year. On the eve of an inquiry into its many failings, John Grayson looks at how global business is licking its lips at the money-making opportunities in housing, monitoring, detaining and deporting people escaping persecution.

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Shame: Tories vote against accepting 3,000 child refugees

April 26, 2016 by  
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guardian_logoGuardian: The amendment to the immigration bill would have allowed thousands of unaccompanied Syrian minors to enter the UK

A high-profile campaign for the UK to accept 3,000 child refugees stranded in Europe has failed after the government narrowly won a vote in the House of Commons rejecting the plan.

MPs voted against the proposals by 294 to 276 on Monday after the Home Office persuaded most potential Tory rebels that it was doing enough to help child refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries.

The amendment to the immigration bill would have forced the government to accept 3,000 unaccompanied refugee minors, mostly from Syria, who have made their way to mainland Europe.

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UK to resettle 3,000 ‘at risk’ children with families

April 23, 2016 by  
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refugee-councilUK to resettle 3,000 ‘at risk’ children with families 21APR2016

Immigration minister James Brokenshire hastoday released details of the scheme to bring children at risk to the UK under plans first announced in January this year.

The programme, likely to operate in a similar way to existing resettlement schemes, focuses on children at risk, such as unaccompanied children and those at risk of forced marriage.  They will be brought to the UK, if possible with their families, from the Middle East and North Africa.

The announcement also mentions the funding and resources given to help separated children in Europe and reiterates previous commitments to making the Dublin III system work to reunite family members, where required, in the UK.

It also repeats the simplistic view that refugees are best helped by remaining by neighbouring countries , referencing the UK’s aid to the Syrian region and its determination to continue to contain people in Turkey.

The announcement comes just days ahead of the debate by Parliamentarians on the issue set for next week, as the Immigration Bill enters its last stages and will ping pong between the two Houses. Following a successful amendment  in the House of Lords the Bill currently contains provision to bring 3,000 separated children from Europe to the UK.

Responding to the news, Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “This announcement is life changing, if not life saving news for the small group of children and their families who will benefit.

“However, it’s also grim news for the majority of other refugees who are desperately trying to escape conflict and persecution who the Government is try to contain in Turkey and other, poorer countries. 

“It’s not good enough to offer a lifeline to one group of refugees while colluding to close off the escape routes of everyone else. All refugees need to be able to reach a place of safety. Until we see a coordinated, comprehensive response to this crisis; men, women and children will continue to be forced to take desperate measures to reach safety.”

The UK is to take in up to 3,000 more child refugees after months of calls to help the youngest and most vulnerable migrants trying to reach safety in Europe. The Government hailed the programme, which will come on top of a previous pledge…

Refugees and Resettlement:Written statement – HCWS687

Made on: 21 April 2016
Made by: James Brokenshire (The Minister of State for Immigration)

Refugees and Resettlement

Following my statement on the 28 January, the Government has continued to work to provide support to refugee children. We have always been clear that in order to provide the best help to the greatest number of those in need, we need to support the majority of refugees to stay safely in their home region.

That is why we recently doubled our aid for the Syrian crisis to £2.3 billion, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. This support has reached hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. To galvanise international efforts we co-hosted the “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference in London on 4 February, securing pledges of more than $11 billion, the largest amount ever raised in one day for a humanitarian crisis. These commitments will create an estimated 1.1 million jobs for refugees and host country citizens by 2018. By the end of the 2016/17 school year, 1.7 million refugee and vulnerable children will be in quality education with equal access for girls and boys.

Today I am able to announce the results of work with UNHCR and informed by a roundtable with NGOs, local authorities and devolved administrations to provide a resettlement route to the UK, specifically designed for ‘Children at Risk’ from the Middle East and North Africa region. On the UNHCR’s recommendation the scheme will not target unaccompanied children alone, but will be extended to all ‘Children at Risk’ as defined by the UNHCR. This broad category encompasses unaccompanied children and separated children (those separated from their parents and/or other family members) as well as other vulnerable children such as child carers and those facing the risk of child labour, child marriage or other forms of neglect, abuse or exploitation.

Through this category we will resettle the most vulnerable children, accompanied by their families, where the UNHCR deems resettlement is in the best interests of the child. We will commit to resettling several hundred individuals in the first year with a view to resettling up to 3000 individuals over the lifetime of this Parliament, the majority of whom will be children. We will also review the scheme at the two year mark. This unique initiative will be the largest resettlement effort that focuses on children at risk from the MENA region and will be over and above the commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees under the Syrian Resettlement Scheme. It will be open to all at risk groups and nationalities within the region, with the best interests of the child at the heart of the scheme. The UNHCR are fully supportive of the launch of this new initiative and the UK’s commitment to assist vulnerable refugee children at risk through further resettlement efforts which uphold the principles of child protection.

The Government is committed to making a full contribution to the global refugee crisis, in particular by helping children at risk. We firmly believe that we can make the biggest difference and add most value by supporting children and their families in the conflict region whilst providing a route to the UK for the minority of vulnerable or at risk cases where resettlement is judged by the UNHCR to be in the child’s best interests.

At the same time we need to shut down the illegal migration routes to Europe, exploited by human traffickers who encourage people to risk their lives to make perilous journeys. The success of the EU-Turkey migration agreement is a vital opportunity to end the misery and lethal risk that smugglers and organised criminals are causing on a daily basis.

Following discussion with the European Commission and the Greek Government I can today announce that the UK will be offering 75 expert personnel to help with processing and administration of migrants in reception centres, act as interpreters, provide medical support and bolster our existing team assisting the Commission to ensure effective and efficient co-ordination. We will also provide vital equipment and medical supplies. This is in addition to the UK maritime contribution, with three Border Force vessels assisting the Hellenic Coastguard to conduct search and rescue missions, and a Royal Navy vessel as part of the NATO mission in the Aegean.

The teams we send to Greece will include experts in supporting vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children and those trained to tackle people trafficking. This will help ensure that vulnerable people, including children, are identified and can access asylum procedures as quickly as possible. This is in addition to the work undertaken by the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, to visit hotspots and assess what more can be done to ensure unaccompanied children are protected from traffickers.

To increase support to refugees in Turkey the Government is contributing £250 million to the initial €3 billion Turkey Refugee Facility. This is expected to provide immediate humanitarian support as well as funding for schools, hospitals and housing. We are also working with the Turkish government to identify what expert support would best assist their immigration and asylum services in handling migrants returned under the EU-Turkey agreement.

We continue to take action within Europe to assist vulnerable migrant children. The UK is the largest bilateral contributor to the humanitarian response to the crisis in Europe and the Balkans with a total contribution of £65m. This includes nearly £46 million to provide life-saving aid to migrants and refugees including food, water, hygiene kits and infant packs, and protection for the most vulnerable, as well as support to organisations helping governments build their capacity to manage arrivals in Greece and the Balkans. The efforts of the partners we fund are targeted to reach the most vulnerable – including children.

It also includes the £10m Refugee Children Fund the Department for International Development (DFID) has created to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children specifically in Europe. The fund will support three specialist and mandated organisations UNHCR, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to work with host authorities to care for and assist unaccompanied or separated children in Europe and the Balkans. This includes identifying vulnerable children, providing for their immediate support, referral to specialist care, and helping find solutions such as family reunification.

It is important to use the tools available to help children reunite with family wherever possible. The government is committed to meeting our obligations under the Dublin Regulation. We have seconded additional resource into the European Asylum Support Office totalling over 1000 days of expert support to Italy and Greece to implement and streamline the Dublin process, including to quickly identify children who qualify for family reunion. And we continue to work with the French authorities to address the situation in Calais, including through a permanent bi-lateral standing committee to improve co-operation on Dublin transfers, particularly family reunion.

The recent secondment of a senior asylum expert to the French Interior Ministry to improve the process for family cases has already resulted in a significant increase in the number of children being reunited with family in the UK. In the last six weeks 24 cases have been accepted for transfer to the UK from France under family unity provisions, more than half of whom have already arrived in the UK. Once an asylum claim has been lodged in another Member State we have demonstrated that transfers can take place within weeks.

We will do all we can to ensure that children in Europe with a right to be reunited with their family in the UK are supported to do so. However, the government remains of the view that relocation schemes within Europe risk creating unintended consequences or perverse incentives for people to put their lives into the hands of traffickers. Instead we are committed to providing safe and legal routes for the most vulnerable refugees from Syria to resettle to the UK. Under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme we are committed to resettling 20,000 vulnerable refugees by 2020. In the last quarter of 2015 we resettled 1085 Syrian refugees under this scheme over half of whom were children.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS665

90,000 Lone Children Sought EU Asylum In 2015

Children as young as six have arrived unaccompanied in Britain as the migration crisis has escalated.

The number of lone children claiming asylum in the EU has more than tripled in the last year, according to official figures.

Nearly 90,000 unaccompanied minors asked for refuge across the EU’s 28 member states in 2015 – a massive increase from the figure of 23,160 recorded the previous year.

It means claims an average of 243 claims a day were registered across the continent.

In Britain, the number of asylum applications from unaccompanied children jumped by more than half last year.

The findings were revealed after it emerged that children as young as six have arrived in Britain unaccompanied.

Deaths at sea: EU is guilty of killing by omission, report argues

April 23, 2016 by  
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2016 April Death by RescueA new report released by Forensic Oceanography – a team that specialises in the use of forensic techniques and cartography to reconstruct cases of deaths at sea – accuses EU policy makers and agencies of knowingly reducing Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts in the Mediterranean and of thus being responsible for the deaths in the first months of 2015. The report is part of the “Precarious Trajectories” research project funded by the European and Social Research Council and in collaboration with WatchTheMed. Read more

UK detention update: “end” of routine detention of pregnant women in Immigration Bill

April 23, 2016 by  
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ecreThe UK government has announced that it will end ‘the routine detention of pregnant women’ in immigration centres. It has agreed to propose an amendment to the Immigration Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament, to introduce a time limit of 72 hours on the detention of pregnant women. This time limit is extendable to up to a week with Ministerial approval.  Read more

Faith and Community leaders demand Immigration Detention Reform

April 23, 2016 by  
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2016 April 22Interfaith parliamentary event raising a voice against indefinite immigration detention

On the 20th April we partnered with Tzelem to organise over 60 faith and community leaders at the House of Commons. We went with a simple message; the system of indefinite immigration detention is ‘inefficient, expensive and unjust’ and is in desperate need of reform.

Paul Parker Tweeted from this event

See more, photos Tweets etc here

Asylum and immigration court fees set to rise by over 500%

April 22, 2016 by  
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guardian_logoGuardian: Steep increases likely to prevent those with few resources from challenging decisions to deport them

Asylum and immigration tribunal fees are set to increase by more than 500% in order to help pay off the Ministry of Justice’s funding deficit. Read more

URGENT Immigration Bill Sample letters to MPs

April 19, 2016 by  
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qarn logo smThe Immigration Bill is expected in the Commons next Monday 25 April 2016. Would Friends please ask their MPs to support these five amendments?  

The titles of those amendments is in the text below, or you can find the full list of amendments here:

Many thanks to those – especially Jessica Metheringham – who have drafted a short letter/email which we encourage Quakers to use as a template to send to their MP.  It’s also intended as a template, so we can encourage Friends to put their own particular stamp on it. Read more

Role Play guidelines

April 12, 2016 by  
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quaker_home_themeBefore they became refugees, their lives too were normal.
Imagine it is your home, town, country that is being destroyed and you have had to flee. You do not know what has become of your family, friends and colleagues. You hear of the destruction of your culture and history. You are ‘one of the lucky ones’. You have been resettled and are safe, in a country where everything is different: the language, food, customs, climate, landscape. Discuss those aspects of your life you have lost. Read more

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