Baroness Shas Sheehan writes…The refugee crisis on our doorstep

In a situation that goes from bad to worse, with no end point in sight, there has been one ray of hope.

On 18 January, the Upper Tribunal ruled that three  unaccompanied minors and a vulnerable young man with mental health problems, from the camp in Calais, had a bona fide case to be allowed to join relatives already resident in the UK.

Thanks to a legal challenge coordinated by Citizens UK, the Home Office has been told to immediately allow the three children and one adult to join their families.

Hitherto, the Government had been arguing that, under the Dublin III convention, applications for asylum must be made and processed in France. However, the reality is that the French system is broken, and applications from asylum seekers with family already resident in the UK are not being processed and passed on to the UK. In effect, the safe and legal route has been denied to asylum seekers who have done all that has been asked of them.

In a ground-breaking ruling the court accepted that evidence of a written claim to asylum in France was sufficient to prove the children had initially sought safety there, and therefore the court subsequently ruled that instead of waiting for the French Government to ask, the British Government must act. It will now be up to Britain to examine the claims of these specific cases under the Dublin regulation.

This changes the nature of the debate. The Government can no longer hide behind the skirts of a broken system, and must now take action to process asylum claims for those with legitimate legal claims to come to the UK – and we parliamentarians must hold their feet to the fire.

* Shas Sheehan is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

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  • This is very interesting , from Baroness Sheehan , very well put . We must be sure that those already here are here legally , and claims accepted as that , before the efforts of those elsewhere trying to get here on the proviso of having relatives here can be seen to have substance. I am glad to see the recognition that the French system is awful , Tim Farron should not have criticised Cameron only on his visit to Calais , pre the Paris horror a highlighting of French ineptitude and responsibility for the terrible so called “jungle, ” would have been welcome . I believe with the only mistake , that one , Tim has been terrific on this , but we need to get better exposure , Corbyn gets to the subject , and late at times on many issues , and media are with him , always he s the story !

  • Tim Farron should not have criticised Cameron only on his visit to Calais
    Agree, he should of been all over the French media kicking up a fuss to get the French administration to fix it’s obviously broken system.

    One of the reasons why David Cameron needs to renegotiate the UK’s deal with the EU is to get our EU neighbours to step their game, rather than expect the UK to step in like a parent and take their problems away.

  • The French system is utterly dysfunctional – totally agree with both Lorenzo and Roland. Shamefully, Cameron buys into, or even encourages, the French position that disfiguring our commitment to European Convention on Human Rights to reduce so-called “pull” factors, is the right approach.

    So, our liaison with the French on resolving this crisis amounts to a few million pounds to strengthen their border policing operation – more teargassing and setting more dogs on people. Yet the camps continue to grow and people continue to take the most awful risks to join family members here or to apply for asylum.

    Citizens UK have identified hundreds of unaccompanied children with relatives legally living in the UK who are being denied safe and legal routes. With this court ruling the fig-leaf of Dublin III has been removed.

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