The Good: Positive Stories Relating to Asylum Seekers and Refugees

More brilliant coverage of STAR's sleep out event in Sheffield last week courtesy of The Star newspaper. 29th February, 2012.

The Yorkshire Evening Post praised a new East African restaurant in Leeds. Run by a female Ethiopian refugee and another Eritrean woman, the restaurant has become a hub for the East African diaspora community in Leeds. Yorkshire Evening Post, February 18th, 2012.

Students at the University of Leicester have started their very own Refugee Week, running from the 5 - 9th March. With a huge variety of events, from lectures to music, debates to film showings, the week is set to raise awareness of refugee and asylum-related issues in Leicester and the surrounding areas. The organiser, Gabrielle Couchman, made the following statement:
“We as a nation really should promote their human rights, and be able to protect them once they are in this country. The UK provides asylum to a smaller percentage of the world’s refugees than other European countries. Asylum seekers are some of the most vulnerable people in the world and we could be doing more to protect them., 3rd March, 2012.

Another of Janice Gwilliam's, an established Short-Stop volunteer with LASSN, incredible blogs has been published in The Guardian's 'Northerner' section. Read more about her life at her personal blog. March 6th, 2012.

Sheffield's independent magazine, Now Then, has published some brilliant coverage of the campaign against G4S' proposed take-over of the provision of social housing for asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside. Issue 38, February, 2012.

New Human Rights Watch report could aid Tamils resisting deportation in the UK. About 100 Tamil asylum seekers are scheduled for deportation on February 28th, 2012.

London's V&A museum is celebrating Refugee Week in June by running a series of events. They are looking for volunteers with refugee-related backgrounds (included second generation). Check out their website for further info.

Child asylum seekers who were incarcerated as adults in immigration detention centres have received a long awaited £2m in compensation. The Guardian, February 17th, 2012.

Sheffield protests against G4S housing contract. Activists and refugee-related organisations demonstrated outside Sheffield's town hall against the proposed outsourcing of asylum housing to the multi-national security company, G4S. BBC, February 15th, 2012.

How Britain's migrants sewed the fabric of the nation. An article in The Guardian's Comment Is Free responds to the immigration minister's decision to filter immigration to Britain, only allowing the "brightest, top of the range professionals" the freedom of movement. The Guardian, February 5th, 2012.

Derelict working mens pub could be transformed into a support centre for destitute asylum seekers. The Boaz Trust, directed by Dave Smith, is planning to buy the property on Chapel Street, Manchester in the summer. The Independent, February 4th, 2012.

Guest blogger, Janice Gwilliam, reports on working with LASSN and PAFRAS. Some much needed recognition for the work done by the two organisations! The Guardian, January 16th, 2012

Yorkshire's Refugee of the Year, Beatrice Botomani from Bradford, has set her sights on even higher achievements in 2012. The Telegraph and Argus, December 28th, 2011.

Home Office loses the battle to be able to deport asylum seekers to the country in which they entered the EU. The Guardian, December 2011.

A London-based choir of refugees and asylum seekers, Woven Gold, were featured on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour. Every Saturday morning the gather at the human rights organisation, the Helen Bamber Foundation, sharing songs with the help of volunteer musicians.

Three Iranians who were forced to escape persecution in Iran have been granted status in the UK after conducting a hunger strike outside the UKBA offices in Croydon.

Article in the Irish Times writes about the Irish Refugee Council’s plans to improve integration in local communities by facilitating young people/children in direct provision to attend local services through better access to sport centres and libraries.

Mohammad Razai: from child Afghan asylum seeker to Cambridge undergraduate: The Guardian, 20/6/2010

The Bad: Stories Looking at Negative Issues Relating to Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Excellent Left Foot Forward article by the woman's advocacy officer at the Refugee Council, detailing how the UK's asylum system puts thousands of asylum seeking women at risk of violence. Left Foot Forward, March 8th, 2012.

A Nigerian asylum seeker, currently detained at Colnbrook Detention Centre near Heathrow, has stated that he would rather die than be deported back to Nigeria, where he fears persecution for his homosexuality. The Daily Times Nigeria, March 7th, 2012.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written a report that highlights key areas for improvement in the UK government's legislation on human rights. Focusing on the limited rights afforded to gypsy and traveller communities, illegal immigrants, people seeking asylum and suspected terrorists, the organisation made key recommendations to the government to guarantee universal human rights for all citizens. March, 2012. 

The Children's Society have published a new report into the experiences of young refugees and migrants in the UK:
The experiences of destitute children and young people raise serious welfare concerns. Indeed, their acute vulnerability means that their predicament should be seen as an important child protection concern. In future they must be properly protected. This report ends by setting out what needs to change to achieve that. 
The Refugee Council has also made comment and the BBC ran an online article. 28th February, 2012.

The UK's 'Detained Fast Track' procedure in the asylum system has been under criticism after a UKBA report highlighted key problems in its practices. The Refugee Council has responded to this report calling for DFT to be suspended until it can prove that no victims of torture or trafficking will be wrongly detained due to DFT. The story was covered by the Guardian ('UK detention of torture victims 'inhumane'), The Daily Mail ('How processing asylum seekers on a 'fast track' system costs us millions of pounds.') and The Telegraph ('Fast Track Asylum Scheme Too Slow'). A brilliant example of how criticism of the UKBA can translate through different media channels! 23rd February, 2012.

Nottingham's Student Magazine, Impact, have run an article on the impact of our immigration system on young asylum seekers. February 16th, 2012.

G4S is not a landlord; they are a private security army. Jon Grayson comments on the dangerous outsourcing of Yorkshire and Humberside's asylum seekers' social housing contracts to the multinational company, G4S. This continues from the publication of a letter written by Yorkshire academics detailing their fear regarding these new contracts with Serco, G4S and Reliance Security. Open Democracy, February 8th, 2012.

The Irish Times reveal that many LGBT asylum seekers often risk deportation as they are terrified of revealing their sexuality to border officials. Fleeing terrible persecution in their respective countries, many asylum seekers are unaware that they are able to claim asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Irish Times, January 31st, 2012.

The BBC reveals that border staff turned back lone "vulnerable" children who did not claim asylum when they arrived at UK ports. This secret "Gentleman's Agreement" with France allowed UK officials to immediately deport children arriving without travel papers. According to England's children's commissioner, Maggie Atkinson, the removals ended last year when she intervened. BBC, January 17th, 2012.

A report by the charity Justice First has revealed that many refused asylum seekers have faced serious torture when returning to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report, called Unsafe Return, revealed that 100% of Justice First's Congolese clients who had been returned have either been tortured or simply disappeared. The Guardian, January 16th, 2012.

Guardian journalist Hans Lucht covers the increase in hate crimes against asylum seekers in Athens, Greece. The Guardian, December 29th, 2011. For an insight into how two British newspapers can cover the same story with terrifyingly different outcomes, have a look at the Daily Mail's coverage of the plight of asylum seekers in Greece.

An asylum seeker living in Glasgow has spoken out against the poor housing provided for destitute asylum seekers, and has backed Shelter's campaign for better housing. The Daily Record, December 2011.

A report by a human rights charity, Justice First, has revealed that some Congolese asylum seekers who have been forcibly removed from the UK are now facing the threat of torture upon their return.
The response of the UKBA is as follows:
"The UK Border Agency only enforces the return of individuals whom we, and the courts, are satisfied are not in need of protection and who do not elect to leave voluntarily. The court of appeal on 3 December 2008 upheld a ruling that failed asylum seekers are not at risk of persecution or ill-treatment on return to the Democratic Republic of Congo simply because they have claimed asylum."
This article from the Morning Star focuses on the terrible treatment of pregnant asylum seekers in detention centres across the UK. Yarl’s Wood was a key perpetrator of poor health, safety and women’s support for pregnant asylum seekers, often leaving only males in charge of wards overnight.

Far-right Israeli activists have marched through South Tel Aviv in protest against the African ‘infiltrators’ in Israel. The numbers of refugees and migrants from African countries have increased over the last few months in South Tel Aviv, and tensions have begun to overflow:
“Some 30,000 African asylum seekers reside in Israel. The state of Israel admits to the United Nations that nearly 90 percent of them are from Eritrea and Sudan. According to international treaties, these migrants cannot be repatriated to their home countries as they face persecution or, in some instances, death. But the Israeli government does not process the refugees' applications for asylum, nor does it grant them work visas. Amnesty International has referred to this neglect of the African community as a "policy of non-policy."
Tamils Against Genocide, a group of activists who assist war-affected Tamil citizens to obtain legal support, have filed a complaint to the UK High Courts in regard to their decision to continue deporting individuals to Sri Lanka despite various policy reviews highlighting concerns about returnee safety. A chartered flight to return almost 50 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka has been booked in for the 15th December.

Britain is still no refuge for refugees. The Guardian, July 2011.

Failed Asylum Seeker found dead at detention camp after receiving deportation notice. The Guardian, August 2011.

Series of photographs taken by female refugees depicting their daily sruggle to get by in the UK. The Observer, October 2011.

Man from Sierra Leone faces deportation amid claims that his marriage was a "sham". Yorkshire Evening Post, August 2011.

"Pre-departure accomodation" for child asylum seekers branded child detention under a new name. The Guardian, August 2011.

Security officers accused of racially abusing asylum seekers under forcible removal. The Independent, September 2011.

The Ugly: Stories Portraying Asylum Seekers and Refugees Negatively

Another Daily Telegraph story proving their "guilty until proven innocent" approach when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees. According to their reporter, certain asylum seekers fabricated their ages in order to claim higher benefits from the UK. The Daily Telegraph, February 1st, 2012.

Another misleading headline from the Daily Express, stating that a confusing combination of refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are getting millions of pounds in compensation from the UK government. Not only ignoring the Press Complaints Commission's guidelines on making clear distinctions between asylum seekers, refugees and illegal immigrants, the headline's claims are refuted in its subsequent text. The Daily Express, January 18th, 2012.

Inflammatory Daily Express article blames the 'incompetence' of the UKBA for the murder of a wife and her children by an Iraqi asylum seeker. The Daily Express, January 14th, 2012.

The Israeli administration has recently passed a law allowing the indefinite detention of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. Any crimes, from graffiti to carrying a weapon, are grounds for arrest. Migrants Rights, 15 January, 2012.

The European Court of Justice rules that no EU country can assume the ability to send asylum seekers back to their 'country of entry' as certain member states do not uphold the fundamental rights of individuals seeking asylum.
The Daily Mail stays true to form and hyperventilates about these new sanctions put on the Dublin Treaty. The Daily Mail, December 22nd, 2011.

This article in Nigerian newspaper about the new Same-Sex bill passed by Nigerian Senate details how it imposes harsher restrictions on homosexuality in the country. Author insinuates that new regulations will give asylum seekers an ‘easy ride’ in more liberal countries like the UK and the US, where Nigerians seeking sanctuary are ‘able’ to use fear of homophobic persecution as part of their claim to asylum. Uses ‘real’ story of Warwick student falsifying his sexuality in order to stay in the UK.

This Telegraph reporter has covered the story of a Sri Lankan family who were illegally deported from the UK 6 years ago, but now, after a lengthy court process, have been invited to return to the UK in order to conduct the decision-making process in a ‘legal manner.’ The whole family were taken from their beds at 2am with no warning, no access to legal support and then put on a flight to Germany at ten to eight the same morning. The reporter has decided to get a quotation from the notoriously right-wing Migration Watch UK.

Three private security firms have been handed the contract for provisional housing for asylum seekers across the UK. Serco, the company awarded the contract in Scotland, have been challenged by Shelter Scotland to sign up to the Scottish Standards for Temporary Accommodation. The last transition in housing provision for asylum seekers in Glasgow resulted in the new providers sending letters to current residents, warning them that they may be moved across the city or the country at a months notice.

Asylum Seeker's £2million pad: Careless short article in the Sun. August 2011.

Paul Robins bemoans the "thousands of illegal immigrants" that will flock from Egypt to the UK in order to "milk" the benefits system.