Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK

Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK

A refugee is a person who has beein forced to leave their country because it is not safe for them to stay. The UN Convention on Refugees has a more precise definition:

'Owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.' (1951 UN Convention on Refugees) 

Asylum Seeker

Is a person who has made a claim to be considered for refugee status and whose claim is still being considered. You cant be an illegal asylum seeker. People seeking asylum have a legal right to be in the UK. 

Reasons why they leave
Refugees and Asylum Seekers have to leave their countries. Here are some of the reasons why they may have to leave:
  • War
  • Threat because of political beliefs
  • Inter-ethnic violence conflict between tribes
  • Inter-religious violence against religious groups
  • Repressive governments  Fear of conscription  fear of being forced to fight 
  •  Cultural practices, female circumcision, honour killings, ritual abuse 
These are all valid reasons to flee but under the refugee convention (above) only persecution for a convention reason is recognised.  This means many people are refused asylum who do have a genuine fear of returning to their country.  

Factors affecting where they travel to  

The vast majority of refugees are only able to travel to a neighbouring country.  Because of this, countries like Pakistan, Syria and Kenya receive by far the most refugees worldwide.  The UN estimates that %90 of refugees remain in their area of origin.  Those that are able to travel to countries like the UK usually have their journeys arranged for them by others, and have no choice over where they end up.   The UK receives less than %1 of the world's refugees.

Where do they come from?

Refugees and Asylum Seekers come from many countries globally. In the UK, these are some of the common countries that Refugees and Asylum Seekers flee from: 
Sri Lanka
It is important to note that there are various reasons why people flee these countries and there are many groups of people at risk within these countries.  

What the law says?

Globally Asylum Seekers and Refugees are mainly covered by the 1951 UN Convention where it defines clearly who should be protected as a refugee. In Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights also provides a basis for protection. The UK Legal perspective is covered mainly by UK immigration laws as well as the Human Rights Act. The UK Law undergoes much change with its immigration policies, so the laws are changed frequently. However the general policy of the UK government in recent years has been to reduce the numbers of refugees coming to the UK and to reduce the level of support available to those that arrive.

The Asylum Process

The UK Aslyum Process is how all Aslyum Seekers seek permission to remain in the UK. The Aslyum System is managed by the UK Borders Agency, which is branch of the UK Home Office the system is very complex and if a person does not speak English, it can be very difficult to understand which can affect aslyum claims. The process involves making a claim and then undergoing interviews. If unsuccessful there is usually the right of appeal to the courts. However the system is very complicated and frequently changes so it is best to contact an immigration adviser or solicitor when dealing with asylum cases.

Support for Ayslum Seekers and Refugees who are Deaf
If you or someone you know is deaf or hard of hearing and is an asylum seeker or refugee in Scotland, and they need more support, then please contact:

  •  Deaf Connections: 
Janice McCusker - Community Develpoment Worker 
Address - 100 Norfolk Street, Glasgow, G5 9EJ 

  •  Scottish Refugee Council: 
Website - 

Switchboard - 0141 248 9799 

Freephone - 0800 085 6087 

We would like to thank our partner, the Scottish Refugee Council for developing this resource.     

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