Author Archives: Office of Lord Roberts

Why we shouldn’t feel helplessness towards the refugee crisis in an age of Trump

During the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2015 public awareness of the refugee crisis arguably reached its peak. In particular, images of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach sparked public outrage, and a wave of ideological mobilisation. That is not to say that the country did not care prior to this incident, but for many months following that particular fatality social media outlets were awash with vocal outcries of sympathy.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Government’s inadequate response to the Syrian refugee crisis

In September 2015, amid widespread public outcry over the UK’s lack of a response to the Mediterranean refugee crisis, David Cameron’s Government agreed to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK by 2020 under the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme.

Yet, the latest Home Office figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request show that, in the two years to June 2016, just under 3,000 refugees have actually arrived in the UK. In other words, an average of less than 1,500 refugees are being resettled each year. This is far below the 4,000 per year necessary to reach the Government’s 20,000 goal. In other words, unless the number of refugees being resettled increases drastically, the Government’s pledge will be broken. Yet, seemingly in denial about the very real possibility of not fulfilling this promise, the Government remains adamant that it is on track to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020.

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Dublin versus Dubs


Whilst the Home Secretary hails the arrival of 312 unaccompanied asylum seeking children as “a really good result”, the fact remains that domestic legislation allows for the UK to positively impact the lives of hundreds – even thousands – more children.

To explain, unaccompanied asylum seeking children can be brought to the UK under one of two systems. Firstly, the Family Reunification provisions of the Dublin III Regulations allow for asylum seekers who have family members who have already received international protection in another state to be transferred to join those family members and have their asylum claim determined by that country. This is rooted in EU asylum policy – meaning the Government has no choice but to comply with the legislation, and there is no limit to the number of children who can be brought to the UK.

On the other hand, the Dubs system of transfer allows for an unspecified number of unaccompanied children with or without family in the UK to be transferred into British care, providing that they arrived in Europe before 20th March 2016 and that it is deemed to be in the child’s “best interests” to be relocated. Thus, many children who may have been excluded from coming to the UK under the Dublin Regulations because they do not have family members in the UK, may now fall under the criteria of the Dubs amendment.

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Political disconnect in Calais and Dunkirk

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.30.54It is not surprising that media reports focus on the appalling conditions in the Calais and Dunkirk camps. On a recent trip Lord Roberts’ team saw for themselves how men, women and children live in knee-high mud, and brave the winter weather with little more than flimsy tents to keep the wind and rain at bay. In response to accusations that the British government are neglecting their humanitarian responsibilities, the Prime Minister champions the fact that under the Dublin Regulations, the UK has to allow family members of British people to claim asylum in the UK.

Despite the Dublin Regulations, the reality is that virtually no one can access this legal route. Many asylum seekers do not fully understand the unnecessarily complex system, and are unaware of exactly what their rights are; there are even reports of British passport holders unable to enter the UK from the camps. Despite government claims that British officials are present in the camp, these visits are occasional at best and offer no means of beginning an asylum claim. So although many asylum seekers in Calais and Dunkirk (as well as across Europe) have a legitimate legal right to claim asylum in the UK, it is incredibly difficult to access in practice. 

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

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