Refugee Week 2019

There has always been negative talk in regards to refugees in the UK and I can only assume, in other countries. But in recent years, I feel as though this negativity has increased significantly. We hear about Donald Trump building his wall, we hear people demanding the UK government to close our borders, we hear people claiming ‘refugees are stealing our jobs’ and so on and so forth… But what is the truth?

First, let’s take a look at some important terms…

Asylum Seekers:
People who flee from their home country to find safety in another. They will arrive in another country in any which way that they can before making themselves known to the authorities. They will then fill in and submit an application of asylum.
They are given the legal right to stay in the country while waiting on a decision.

– In 2018 the UK received 37,453 asylum applications (including dependants) This is much less than Germany (162,000), France (110,000) and Italy (49,000).
– The UK is way below the European average for asylum applications and ranks in at 17th among EU countries per head of population.

Refugees:
There are people who have proven that they are at risk if they return to their home country. They have had their application of asylum accepted by the government and can now stay in the country long-term or indefinitely.
Refugees have the right to bring their immediate family members to join them under UK and International law.

Refused Asylum Seekers:
People who have not been able to prove that they are at risk if they return to their home country. They have been denied protection by the authorities and must leave the country. They do have the right to appeal against the decision and will be able to stay during the appeal time. They may also stay if they are unable to travel immediately.

Economic Migrants:
Those who have moved to another country to work there. They could be living there legally or illegally depending on how they entered the country and they may or may not have a legal work permit.

Asylum seekers and refugees have existed for centuries. Today is not much different to that of the 1950s when it comes to refugees. In 1952, elderly refugees, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, were housed in Agnew House. They were looked after, educated and made to feel safe and welcome. 
Today, many countries take in refugees from all over the world, house them, and make them feel safe and wanted.

Learning English was just as important to refugees back in the 1970s as it is today.

I have seen more stigma and hatred towards refugees in recent years than ever before. More negative headlines in newspapers, slating our government for letting them in. When we are all human. We all have basic human needs and we are all entitled to human rights. Why do refugees from other countries not deserve a second chance at life? Why do they not deserve to feel safe in their own homes? 

People from the UK move to different countries all of the time… mainly just because they can! So why do we frown upon those who move to England to better their lives?

As you can see from the figures mentioned earlier, the number of refugees entering the UK each year is not an extortionate amount. Other countries take many more people each year. 

Out of over 30,000 applications of asylum in the UK, only 17,304 people were granted protection (40% of these people were children). 
People who are waiting to hear back in regards to their application are given roughly £5 per day from the government to cover necessities… could you live off of £5 a day?

The main claims are that refugees come here to claim British benefits, take our jobs and our housing. 
Although there are certain benefits available for refugees, they do require them to have a national insurance number. There are certain requirements needed for various benefits, for example, some may require the individual to be able to speak English or prove they have been learning the language for at least 15 weeks. Others require the individual to be working in the UK. 

Their initial asylum seekers income (£36 per week) is stopped 28 days after they receive refugee status. The individual is then required to move to a new home (unless they are already living with friends or family) this means that many refugees face the risk of becoming homeless. 
There are support systems in place to help them try to find an affordable home, or help them to reach a position so that they can claim certain forms of benefits and help (such as a refugee integration loan). 

And they are not ‘taking our jobs’… you are not being sacked and replaced by them just because they are here. They still go through the interview process in order to be offered a job. They are often educated for the position they are offered. Many refugees go into education in order to better themselves and help them to find a well-paid job. They deserve to have a job just as much as we do. 

In order to be a UK citizen, entitling them to other forms of benefits and support, they must pass a citizenship test. These tests are not easy… and I bet there are many people who have been born and bred in the UK who could not pass it for themselves. Here, give it a try! 

There are my results ^ 
And most of the ones that I got correct were guessed! 

We need to start treating others with respect and kindness. Where people come from and the colour of their skin does not say anything about who they are as a person. Their personality is not determined by their nationality. We are all human beings and should be treated the same. 

If an individual with refugee status committed a serious crime, we see headlines such as ‘Migrant Murderer’ or ‘Immigrant assaults British man’, even if the person has lived in the UK for 10+ years, even if they have passed the citizenship test and are now classed as a BRITISH CITIZEN. 
Headlines like this try to tarnish all refugees and asylum seekers with the same brush and that is far from fair. 

We need people to be more open-minded and accepting of others. Please think twice before shaming refugees and asylum seekers. Many of which are here for a better life, one that they deserve to have. Many who are here to work within the NHS, many who are here to teach our children in universities and colleges all over the country. Many who work alongside charities! Stop assuming they are all bad people. Start giving them the chance that they deserve. 

Resources:

Refugee Action – Facts about Refugees

British Red Cross – Refugee Facts and Figures

Refugee Council

Refugee Council – Top Ten Facts

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