The inhumane and broken asylum system of our country

The 27 men, women, and children who perished in the seas of the Channel last week after trying to seek safety in the UK should have been a wake-up call to our country. However, it only acts as tragic proof of the broken and inhumane asylum system our country has in place.

Our government shows zero humanity and understanding when it comes to asylum seekers. They have spent millions on border control including buying the security that blocks these flimsy dinghies in dangerous waters leaving them stranded. Although people have been trying to seek safety in the UK by making the dangerous journey from the French coast to Britain for decades, Brexit, and other factors have rigorously heightened the risks which come with this journey. 

Before Brexit, the government used the Dublin Regulation which meant, despite still having many flaws, asylum seekers in the EU could safely re-join their families in the UK. However, refugees no longer have ways of rejoining their families in the UK and as such are forced to carry out these horrendous journeys.

This is all heightened through Priti Patel’s home secretary position. Patel continuously advocates for harsher deals in relation to our country’s asylum system. Most specifically her Nationality and Borders Bill, which sees incredibly cruel measures wanting to be in place. Zarah Sultana MP commented, “It criminalises boats rescuing people at sea and attacks refugee rights, violating our 70-year commitment to the Refugee Convention.” This Bill is designed to create an even more hostile environment for those searching for a safer life.

I am confused by our government’s thought process of having an aggressive system to deter people from risking their lives to come here. Regardless of what system this country wants to have in place, people will always risk their lives to come here. Harsher systems will only mean asylum seekers will be forced to take increasingly dangerous routes, it will not mean they will stop trying to come to the UK. Asylum seekers are not seeking asylum in the UK because it is easy. This ideology reflects our country’s complete ignorance and lack of genuine care.

What I find most difficult to understand is how people cannot see the privileges involved in this situation. While most of us are privileged enough to not be able to imagine the horrendous journey across the Channel, how can people be confused by the logic as to why these individuals feel the need to make this incredibly unsafe journey. A parent would never place their child alone on a weak and fragile boat to travel across water unless the water is safer than the land they are on. The government, most particularly Priti Patel, allows for asylum seekers to be portrayed as “economic migrants”, yet analysis by the Refugee Council shows almost all arrivals in the past 18 months were from countries where persecution is common.

One thing I want to emphasise is that this piece is not an attack on the Conservative party, as I find this to be the number one assumption people take when someone confronts the migration crisis in this country. This is a humanitarian crisis in which I am angered by our country’s lack of compassion – the Conservative and Labour parties have both impacted the crisis negatively and neither show attempts of taking a compassionate approach in helping the situation.

While it is the Conservative party who are currently the ones enforcing these new changes which are dangerously affecting and harming the asylum system, the Labour party are also failing in offering an alternative solution and as such are equally to blame for the destruction of asylum seekers’ lives.

There needs to be a change in approach to migrant crossings first and foremost. It is incredibly upsetting to witness both sides of our government equally demanding greater border security instead of advocating for the safety of these individuals. I understand there are politics at play here, there always are, but our government needs to stop pushing those politics onto the lives of those escaping such monstrosities which are entirely out of their hands, especially when they provide them with no safer solution. There need to be safe, regular, and viable routes to the UK.

Those who seek asylum have the right to do so in Britain. The government needs a fairer and more humane approach in place, one that offers resettlement programmes, humanitarian visas, and a reformed family reunion plan. Our government not only needs to begin working together to advocate for a safer and fairer asylum system, but they also need to begin working with other countries.

The horrific and continuous deaths in the Channel need to be a wake-up call for our country.

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Lauren Bramwell

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January 2022
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