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  • Writer's pictureFarah Benis

Welcoming Some, Turning Away Others: The UK's Uneven Response to Different Groups of Refugees

The UK's response to different groups of refugees has been a topic of growing concern in recent years. While some refugees, such as those from Ukraine, have been welcomed with open arms and given extensive support, others, such as those from other countries, have been turned away or left to navigate the system on their own. This disparity in treatment is unacceptable and must be addressed.

"Britain has always been a welcoming place for refugees" is a familiar cry from the Conservative front bench. Even though that fact might sound impressive, it does not provide us with a complete picture. Only about 4% of asylum places are allocated to resettlement, where refugees follow government-approved routes. Based on UNHCR data, the UK ranks 18th out of 27 in terms of the number of asylum seekers it actually grants. The inadequacy of this government's response to the escalating refugee crisis, let alone the outright hostility of its immigration policy - particularly the measures outlined in its nationality and borders bill - is simply a continuation of the British state's long, shameful legacy of mistreating and neglecting those seeking safety on its shores.

This unequal response to different groups of refugees is due, in part, to political factors and the actions of politicians like Priti Patel and Suella Braverman, the previous and current Home Secretaries. These individuals have made it clear that they believe in a hardline approach to immigration and asylum, prioritising security and control over the needs of refugees.

This approach was recently demonstrated by the UK government's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, which was criticised by human rights organisations and campaigners as being unethical and dangerous. The UK government has claimed that Rwanda is a safe country for refugees, but this is far from the truth. In reality, Rwanda is not equipped to provide adequate support for refugees, and many have reported suffering from poverty, abuse, and discrimination.

The UK's approach to refugees is not only unethical, but it is also a breach of international law. The 1951 Refugee Convention, which the UK is a signatory to, states that refugees have the right to seek asylum and must not be returned to a country where they face persecution or serious harm. The UK's plan to send refugees to Rwanda is a clear violation of this principle, and it demonstrates a disregard for the basic human rights of refugees.

The UK must change its approach to refugees and put the needs of refugees first. This means providing adequate support for those who are fleeing persecution and conflict and ensuring that the UK's asylum system is fair, efficient, and free from discrimination. It also means working with other countries to address the root causes of displacement so that refugees are not forced to flee their homes in the first place.


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