LONDON: Thousands of women and child refugees will be refused entry to Britain if the government’s New Plan for Immigration is enacted, including those fleeing war-torn countries, according to research by Together With Refugees, a coalition of over 200 national and local organizations.
If pushed through Parliament, the new regulations would mean that most arrivals who would now be accepted as refugees — covering people fleeing war or persecution — would not be recognized by the UK.
Analysis found that the top five countries from where refugees are accepted by the UK are Iran, Sudan, Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
Refugee organizations and human rights campaigners are now urging the government to abandon the plan.
Research using past government data has revealed that two in three women and children who were accepted by the UK as refugees would be refused under the new changes. Women and children make up half of the refugees accepted each year by the UK.
As part of the study, a poll revealed that 64 percent of Britons believe that the UK should accept refugees fleeing conflict and persecution.
“Abandoning people fleeing war and persecution, including women and children, is not who we are in the UK,” said the coalition’s spokesperson, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council and former asylum seeker Sabir Zazai.
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“These are mothers escaping war-torn Syria, women fleeing sexual violence in Congo or children escaping lifelong conscription into the military in Eritrea.”
About 85 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries. Many European countries receive more asylum requests than the UK.
Last year, Germany, France and Spain each received about three times the number of applications.
A UK Home Office spokesperson said: “We have a responsibility to put the New Plan for Immigration into action so that we can fix the broken asylum system, helping people based on need, not the ability to pay people smugglers.
“People should be reassured by our track record — since 2015 we have resettled more than 25,000 vulnerable people, including many women and children, so that they can rebuild their lives here.
“We will continue to work closely with the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) to ensure those in the greatest need get our support.
“We make no apology for seeking to fix a system which is being exploited by human traffickers, who are encouraging women and children to risk their lives crossing the English Channel.”