Charities urge Home Secretary to tackle refugee ‘backlog’ with safe routes

More than 110 charities have signed an open letter to Suella Braverman, calling for a ‘kind and effective system’ for those seeking asylum in the UK

Ted Hennessey
Monday 31 October 2022 00:01 GMT
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been told that creating safe routes for refugees and dealing with a backlog in migrant claims is ‘worth dreaming about’ (Victoria Jones/PA)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been told that creating safe routes for refugees and dealing with a backlog in migrant claims is ‘worth dreaming about’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been told that creating safe routes for refugees and dealing with a backlog in migrant claims is “worth dreaming about”.

More than 110 refugee charities have signed an open letter to the Cabinet minister, calling for a “kind and effective system” for those seeking asylum in the UK.

It referred to comments made by Ms Braverman at a fringe event during the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, that her “dream” and “obsession” is seeing a plane taking off to Rwanda with migrants.

She has also said the only way for refugees to get into the UK is through a “safe and legal route”.

The letter read: “Home Secretary, when you talk of ‘safe and legal routes’, you must be aware that it is impossible to ask refugees to come exclusively through such a path when even Afghan interpreters who are eligible for one of our few existing schemes remain in hiding from the Taliban.

“When you talk of ‘illegal migrants’, you must be aware that the top nationalities of people making dangerous journeys include Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria, and that at least 97% of asylum claims made by people from these countries are successful.

“When you question the existence of ‘modern slavery’, you must be aware that you are dismantling your own party’s proud and internationally-recognised achievement in protecting the survivors of trafficking.

“And when you complain about the cost of housing asylum seekers, you must be aware that, while people seeking safety did not choose to leave their homelands, they are willing to work and keen to contribute, if only the law permitted them.

“You have referred to this country’s proud history of offering sanctuary, so we ask you to make this happen with a fair, kind and effective system for refugees.

“Deal with the backlog in asylum cases, create safe routes, respect international law, and the UN convention on refugees, and give refugees a fair hearing, however they get here. Then you would have really done something worth dreaming about.”

This letter shows the depth of feeling against the Government's anti-refugee policies and that there are positive alternatives possible

Sonya Sceats, Freedom from Torture

The letter, co-ordinated by charity IMIX and coalition campaign Together With Refugees, was signed by groups such as Choose Love, Christian Aid, City of Sanctuary UK, Doctors of the World, English National Opera, Freedom from Torture, Good Chance Theatre, JCORE, Jesuit Refugee Service, Rainbow Migration, Refugee Action, Refugee Council, Scottish Refugee Council, Safe Passage and Save the Children.

It came as almost 1,000 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Ms Braverman said migrants crossing the Channel will face a ban from claiming asylum in Britain.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, said: “Every day in our therapy rooms torture survivors tell us about the hardship that 12 years of anti-refugee policies have caused them. Suella Braverman’s policy proposals promise to intensify their cruelty.

“Braverman’s dream of flying refugees to Rwanda by Christmas seems even further from realisation, after the airline hired to carry out the fights bowed to pressure from Freedom from Torture and pulled out of the scheme.

“This letter shows the depth of feeling against the Government’s anti-refugee policies and that there are positive alternatives possible.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of providing protection for those who genuinely need it through our safe and legal routes, recently welcoming hundreds of thousands of people from Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

“The public rightly expects us to control immigration, at a time when the number of people arriving in the UK via small boats has reached record levels, placing pressure on the asylum system and stretching our capacity to support those in need.

“We are using every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration, disrupt the business model of people smugglers and relocate to Rwanda, those with no right to be in the UK.”

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