Britain’s forgotten asylum seekers left in limbo



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Monday 24 December 2012

Last update 24 December 2012 7:05 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Displaced from his home country of Zimbabwe to Britain because of his political beliefs, James would like nothing better than to focus on buying Christmas presents for his sick young son.
But after waiting two and a half years to hear whether he can stay, James — not his real name — remains in limbo: legally unable to work, reliant on handouts, and struggling even to raise the bus fare to visit his son in hospital.
“I want to provide everything for my family, to have a normal life, to give people Christmas presents,” said James, 46, who has an electronics degree.
Instead, having endured two winters of homelessness, he waits.
James is among a huge backlog of asylum seekers in Britain waiting years to hear if their applications have succeeded — a situation blasted in a report last month by the British parliament’s influential home affairs committee.
The report said the UK Border Agency had shelved the cases of 74,000 asylum seekers by saying it had lost touch with them; of the rest, 30 percent must wait more than three years for a decision.
Britain accepts asylum applications under UN and EU agreements, and receives about 17,000 a year, below the European average per head of population.
Yet the backlog is still growing. At one point more than 150 boxes of post, including letters from applicants and lawyers, lay unopened in a room, the report found.
James’s journey to Britain began in 2001, with a visit to his Harare home from a group of men he immediately recognized as bad news.
“There were four or five men. Three of them were wearing smart-casual type clothes with ties. They didn’t have any documents, and the car they were traveling in — I knew it was the type the CIO use,” James said, referring to Zimbabwe’s feared Central Intelligence Organization.
James managed to escape, but he knew the men would likely return, because he and his friend had been distributing membership cards for the then-opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government, which has promised a clampdown on immigration, places emphasis on deporting illegal immigrants rather than resolving asylum cases.
But a UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “We are resolving asylum cases more quickly. Last year 63 percent of cases were dealt with within 12 months... Protection is always given where there is a well-founded fear of persecution.”
Garratt of Refugee Action added: “Whilst the number of unresolved cases can be counted, the human cost of wasted potential is beyond measure.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has suspended all parallel education programs, except in medical and engineering specialties, as well as bridging programs for health diploma certificates.Education Minister Azzam Al-Dhakil gave directions to the rec...
RIYADH: The Cooperative Health Insurance Council said it had suspended operations of six medical insurance companies for violating health insurance regulations by issuing insurance policies without completing the required documentation and violating...
JEDDAH: A local survey found that almost half of Saudis abide by rules and laws in public places outside the Kingdom more than they do inside the country.More than one-third of the respondent sample said they violate road traffic signs and directions...
DAMMAM: A 50 percent decline in the prices of some types of fish in the Dammam Central Market was noted compared to the previous month.Fish sellers attributed this decline to an increased fish supply and fall in demand from hotels and consumers durin...
RIYADH: In a two-day operation, police arrested 343 beggars including women and children during the holy month of Ramadan.A police officer said the raid was carried out in the Salehiya district and 220 of those arrested were women from Ethiopia. “Mos...
RIYADH: Hotels in the capital have made special arrangements by setting up Ramadan tents, where diners can visit to begin and break their fast with special suhoor and iftar meals during the ongoing fasting month.As the Ramadan tent is a popular pheno...
JEDDAH: Kaddadin, or unlicensed transporters, say there is good money to be made during Ramadan especially in transporting Umrah pilgrims from Jeddah to Makkah and back.During this month the number of visitors doubles or triples which means the price...
RIYADH: The holy month of Ramadan is lively at night following Taraweeh prayers. Nights are turned into days during the month in the industrial area where there is a large concentration of automobile workshops.The industrial areas are well illuminate...
RIYADH: The Saudi man behind the green project that ensured 3,400 trees in Khurais in the Eastern Province for a government firm has been approached by a Kuwaiti oil company for a similar project. “After learning about the project in the Eastern Prov...
RIYADH: A total of 1,300 Gambian pilgrims will come to the Kingdom to perform Haj this year, Ambassador Omar Gibril Sallah said on Thursday.“We hope that the pilgrims will observe the fifth pillar of Islam in peace and harmony and may Allah accept th...
RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) and the Disabled Children’s Association (DCA) have launched a traffic safety campaign, to reduce the number of accidents that cause disability.Prince Sultan bin Salman, the SCTNH...
JEDDAH: The holy month of Ramadan is a period when non-Muslim expatriates too abstain from eating, drinking or smoking during the daytime out of respect for Muslims who fast from dawn to dusk and also because it is healthy. The expatriates are also...
A policeman was killed in an anti-terror operation on Friday in the western city of Taif, according to the interior ministry. An exchange of fire resulted in the death of the policeman after a raid to arrest a wanted person, state news agency SPA quo...
RIYADH: Customs authorities at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah have foiled an attempt to smuggle 52,850 Xanax capsules into the country.The drug, an anti-depressant, banned in the Kingdom, was found hidden under the clo...
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered that two men face trial for allegedly insulting the late King Abdullah.Quoting reliable sources, a local online publication said that King Salman has also barred Mohsin Al-Awaji and Ab...

Stay Connected

Facebook