On Refugee Week

The asylum-seeker has a face, a human face.  And a body that feels pain, holding a heart that hurts.

I’m writing this post for Refugee Week, 15th – 21st June.

In Britain there are those who believe we should always give refuge to genuine asylum-seekers. Then there are those who believe that asylum seekers and refugees are putting a huge strain on our country’s resources and that we have no choice but to reject their applications and deport them.  And there are those who believe that they are all disingenuous scroungers seeking to exploit our generous welfare system.

I fall in with the first belief and strongly reject the two that follow.  I believe we should always give asylum to genuine refugees.  I believe we can and I believe we should.

Economic migrancy is a separate issue and although I stand by my belief that it is a vital asset to the country, I think it should be kept separate from the asylum debate.  Economics, the labour market and hysterical xenophobes should not affect the desperate needs of genuine people looking for refuge.

About that word.  Refuge.  It basically means shelter or protection from danger.  When I think of the word, I thank the gods that me and my family are lucky enough not to have been born into circumstances that might cause us to take great, usually life threatening, risks and flee our country to seek safety.

I’ve always wholeheartedly supported the idea of an illegal immigrant amnesty.  Jim Jay of The Daily (Maybe) blog points out a recent report stating that such an amnesty would be beneficial for the country – beneficial in terms of a whopping £3 billion, which kind of blows all negative myths about asylum seekers and refugees right out of the Earth’s orbit don’t you think.  Boris Johnson of all people agrees with the report’s findings.  Sadly our Labour government doesn’t and as Jim Jay puts it . . . .

It certainly comes to something when a Conservative Mayor is more progressive on immigration of all things than the Labour Party

Well that’s our government for you but frankly, I very much doubt that a Tory government would go for such an amnesty in spite of what Tory Mayor Boris says.  Sadly, I doubt even more that the wider public would be receptive to it so there’s not a chance that Brown and his cab’ chums would go for such an unpopular policy, nor like I said, would the The Shadow Cabs’ (read like a pop group).  And there’s the right-wing press to consider.  The compassionately-challenged people at MigrationWatch UK would simply stick their desperate oar in as I’m sure they already have and the Dirty Mail etc. would then prioritise MWUK’s fear-mongering, threat-loaded propaganda in their reporting.  And that, my dear gentlefolks, will be that.  Sigh.

About those asylum-seekers?  Asylum-seekers.  People – humans – fleeing persecution.  Seeking sanctuary.  Unfortunately, those who make the decisions – the cold and detached officials who see only faceless names on paper and get their orders from governments-in-office who impose knee-jerking asylum policies that pander to the tabloid hystericals  – they will never see the human story within.

It’s all the more sensitive and heart-breaking when children are involved.  It’s far better to repatriate children to their own countries – their own families.  But only if and when circumstances are fully suitable to do so.  And certainly not just to appease the scare-mongers or to improve the figures.  Apologies for the preachy tone but we really must strive for asylum-seeking families to remain together because there are some heart-breaking stories about children being separated from their parents once they arrive here.  It’s bad enough that they’ve been dragged for miles and miles into a strange, foreign country but to be then torn from their parents is just brutal.  And there are some shamefully sad reports about the treatment of these children under our care.

There are many deceptions regarding asylum seekers – misinformation about them sponging and receiving more benefits than nationals . . . and being pampered by the state, blah, blah.  Fact is, they get barely enough to survive on and aren’t even allowed to seek work to support themselves until their status has been established.  Ridiculous myths are frequently circulated such like as Britain being a soft touch when in fact we take on a very small fraction of asylum seekers, many of whom are war displaced people fleeing countries that have been armed by the west . . . or they’re fleeing horrors such as torture, persecution, rape, and organised violence.  Who the hell wouldn’t?

These are troubling times folks and it’s to our shame that it’s actually the poor countries that are tending to most of the world’s refugees. What’s more, a report published in May this year following the largest ever survey of destitution among asylum seekers showed that the UK system is failing.

About that word.  Destitution.  Destitute.  Widespread destitution.  Destitute whilst in Britain folks, not in their country of origin.  Hardly sponging from our generosity is it.  Add that to the fact that many asylum seekers are skilled or professional which totally undermines the claims that they come to Britain just to seek our welfare benefits and you get a total blow-off of the claims that they are coming to exploit our benefits system.

See the dehumanisation of the innocent

Hear the cries of the desolate
See the tears of the exploited
Hear the sighs of the weary
Sense the fear of the abused
Hear the wails of the torture chambers
Feel the anguish of the refugee camps
Sense the shock and hurt of the defenceless victim
Feel the pain of the killing fields
Heal the sorrow of the unloved child

See the smug arrogance of the leaders and the perpetrators

See it and be outraged.

Because while there is outrage, there is the will to beat it.


10 responses to this post.

  1. […] See the rest here: On Refugee Week […]


  2. […] but to reject their applications and deport them.  And there are those who believe that they click for more var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : […]


  3. Excellent post, Earthpal, which also reflects my considerations about immigration. Pity that the media side with the bigots. Pity that commercials published by those who surreptitiously use those immigrants support those members of the media that forget what a well-born, good-will citizen of any country thinks in their innermost.



  4. Posted by ders on June 17, 2009 at 7:02 pm

  5. I really dont know where I stand… I see people abuse a good system. Giving Asylum would be a good thing but it becomes bad when the people seeking one Live a Lie and con the asylum giver. I would choose going the Individual way.. Check for each, if its legit the reasons they seek asylum, maybe that is impractical on a large scale with time constraints which is why I dont know where I stand cause I cant see a fair practical system that would work.


  6. Posted by ders on June 20, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Amazing details of exactly what asylum seekers MUST BY LAW be given for free.
    Were you aware? No you were not… And you are not allowed to become aware either.

    Date: Thu, 17 May 2007


    We know they’re going to move asylum seekers in there. All the flats have been done up, central heating, the works. And they’ve put up brand new net curtains. That’s a sure sign.

    This is the kind of message that we have been hearing from angry locals all over Britain for the last couple of years. Many of the details change, but the total renovations and the highly visible net curtains crop up time and time again.

    So too do the denials by local councils that the premises concerned are going to house asylum seekers. And almost as regular is the spectacle of those same councils being forced to eat their words within weeks as local residents wake up to find that new neighbours from Albania and Somalia have been moved in overnight.

    The repetition of this pattern over the entire country has been something of a mystery up until now. Strangest of all has been the sight of so many councils telling lies to local residents and newspapers alike, even though the bureaucrats and local councillors telling the lies must know that they will be exposed and discredited within weeks. Just such a sequence of events, for example, played a major role in the by-election victory of our Robin Evans in Blackburn last autumn.

    Secret Tenancy Agreement

    The answers to this puzzle lies in a secret 26-page document the Revised Tenancy Agreement April 2001 – produced by the Secretary of State for the Home Office, acting through the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. Its very existence is supposed to be secret, Section 3 (p), on page 8 has this warning for people or companies thinking of making money out of housing asylum seekers:

    The Landlord’s attention is drawn to the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989. The landlord shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all individuals engaged on any work in connection with this Agreement have notice that these statutory provisions apply to them and shall continue to apply after the expiry or termination of the Term.

    I don’t know whether there is anything to make a reader who is not planning to be a signatory to the document subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. I don’t know, and I don’t care. This document is so shocking that the truth about it has to be told. All I will say is that this article is published here solely on my authority, so if some Home Office legal bigwigs wants to prosecute over this shockingly democratic breach of their veil of secrecy, they know where to find me.

    The anti-free speech restrictions continue on page 9, although by this time the section numbers seem to have become somewhat confused and very unclear. The actual meaning of Section (a) (iii), however, is all too clear:

    The Landlord shall ensure that no press release or other public document containing Confidential Information is issued and shall not make any public statement concerning Confidential Information without the prior written approval of the Directorate and the Tenant Company as to its content and the manner and extent of its publication.

    This is the answer to one key asylum mystery. This is why local councils and private companies alike, which are providing accommodation for ‘refugees’, continually refuse to comment or lie about their role in housing asylum seekers. Once they’ve signed up to this Agreement, they simply don’t have a choice.

    Detailed list of items for asylum seekers

    So what doesn’t the Home Office want you to know? Take a look at Schedule 1 on page 14, and you can see for yourself:

    This list of requirements for any property being used to house asylum seekers begins, reasonably enough, by insisting that it shall be fit for human habitation, and have adequate light. Let us ignore the fact that many hundreds of thousands of our own people are either homeless or live in houses which are unfit for human habitation because, according to central government and local councils, there isn’t enough money to deal with all the problems.

    By the time we get to Section 1.3, the secret Agreement begins to lay out requirements which are beyond the reach not just of a relatively small number of the homeless or desperately poor:

    all meters shall be of the quarterly type, the use of card or key meters shall not be allowed.

    Isn’t that nice? If you and your family fall into arrears on your utility bills, particularly electricity, you have to agree to the installation of a card meter set at such a rate that it gobbles up money. British families with children can’t be officially cut off but if they run out of meter credit, their lights and heating go off anyway and they have to go to bed at dusk in the winter to try to keep warm. Such hardships are unacceptable, however, when it comes to asylum seekers.

    Section 1.7 insists that The Property shall have a full and safe central heating system installed. Paraffin or bottled gas fed heating systems shall not be used. Perish the thought! Such devices are fine for British pensioners and young families shivering on the poverty line, but far too smelly, inconvenient and dangerous for Mr Blunkett’s favourites.

    New electrical goods

    After laying down requirements on issues such as fire safety, the Schedule reaches Point 10: All electrical appliances in the Property shall be either new or, if second hand, shall be supplied complete with a twelve month guarantee. Well, I don’t know about you, but when my wife and I got married and set up home, we had to get our first electric cooker and heaters from an auction, completely without any guarantee at all. And, of course, ordinary British youngsters moving into places of their own still face the same choice between paying through the nose for new equipment or going without guarantees.

    Pages 15 and 16 go on to provide a long list of the things needed in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathroom of each asylum property. As you’re probably expecting by now, this features everything from chip pans to teaspoons, from an easy chair for each bed space to a Boots first aid kit.

    The long ‘General’ list in Section 1.13 even proves that the popular observation about new net curtains showing that asylum seekers are moving in is true, since landlords are ordered to provide net & drawable curtains to all living rooms and bedrooms. They get everything, in fact, including the kitchen sink.

    Free colour TV and licence paid!

    One item does, however, stand out:

    For Each Living/Dining Room

    1 new twenty inch screen colour television complete with licence which shall be renewed at each annual anniversary of the Start Date throughout the Term.

    Native Brits, of course, have to wait until they are 75 to get a free TV licence, and non-payment of this iniquitous tax is the biggest single ‘crime’ that puts British women in prison.

    Many of those women can’t afford a TV licence because they are struggling to bring up young families on pitifully low incomes. As a result, they are also often unable to afford proper child safety equipment. No wonder, then, that the Home Office bureaucrats being so generous with our tax money wanted to keep Section 1.20 secret:

    Where there are to be children living in the Property, the Property shall include:

    Adequate cot and highchair facilities

    Appropriate sterilisation equipment;

    Child safety gates on all stairways;

    Childproof resistant devices or casement stays on all windows;

    Appropriate play areas both inside and outside the Property.

    Another thing that ordinary families on average incomes find a big problem is the occasional cost of major repairs. Asylum seekers have no such worries. Under this Agreement, the Landlord is bound to do all repairs within seven days, and to provide an emergency repair service (Section 1.23) where a threat to health and safety is apparent. The rest of us have to turn to Yellow Pages or pay for call out insurance, but it would be unfair to expect asylum seekers to do the same, wouldn’t it?

    Similarly favourable treatment is also specified in the Letting Provisions, Section (f) of which commits the Landlord to redecorate all parts of the Property in the third year of the Term. The rest of us may have to fork out down at “Do It All”, but not Mr Blunkett’s special guests.

    Perhaps most ludicrous of all, however, is the next section (g) of the Letting Provisions, whereby the Landlord agrees: To have the exterior of all windows of the Property cleaned once every twelve weeks. I kid you not, it’s there on page 7. What would George Formby have had to say about it?

    Who pays?

    So what do all these modcons and services cost the lucky occupants of such premises? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. When various bleeding heart liberals tell us how asylum seekers only get basic income support payments, they don’t tell us about the Letting Provisions on page 4 of the Home Office’s Revised Tenancy Agreement, do they? Yet these show that not only do asylum seekers get their TV licences paid for them, we also pick up the tab for their rent, water rates, gas, electricity and council tax bills.

    Surely, you must think, these people must want to spend night after night on the phone to all their friends and family back home, telling them all about the wonders of Soft Touch Britain? A lot of their pocket money must go on paying the phone bill? No, as you probably guessed, they don’t have to pay a penny. Section 1 ((b) of the Letting Provisions sets out the fact that the Tenant Company (funded by the taxpayer) agrees to pick up the phone bill for every single property provided by the Landlord in question to asylum seekers.

    Don’t forget that every single council or housing association in this land which is housing asylum seekers has signed this document. Thousands of councillors in the ruling party in Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councils alike have either read this document or studiously avoided seeing it so they didn’t have to.

    It only took one BNP member in one council to leak this insulting and undemocratic document. By contrast, we will never know how many Lib-Lab-Con merchants have seen this Agreement since it first started being used in 2001, but not a single one of them has had the guts to put the interests of democracy and their constituents before asylum seekers and the Home Office.


  7. Jose, well said. I have a post half-written about borders and migration and human race etc. I might never publish it because it’s so draining.

    Hi Mysoul, I hear what you’re saying. It’s very problematic but most asylum-seekers are genuine and they shouldn’t be punished because a handful of people are abusing the system. Where there are systems to abuse, there will be people abusing them. You need look no further than our own MP’s and the expenses abuses.


  8. Hi ders,

    Re. the TPUC article. So they get 20″ TV’s and lace curtains. It’s hardly a life of luxury is it. The article is misleading. It’s basic premise is that poor British families have to struggle to keep their kids warm in Winter, that they can’t afford child safety equipment etc. yet asylum seekers can simply come into the country and claim for everything.

    Asylum seekers have to prove that they are destitute before they receive basic help. If their case seems straightforward they are immediately detained and fast-tracked. For others, they aren’t allowed to work until their status decision has been made so they can’t earn money to feed, clothe and shelter themselves or their children. And what about asylum children who are alone and unaccompanied? Trafficked children? Do we let them live on the streets or do we provide sufficient accommodation until a decision has been made? Even the asylum seekers who do have the financial means to provide for themselves need somewhere to stay initially. When they are fleeing from persecution I imagine they need to get out pretty sharpish, you know, at short notice, so it’s hardly feasible that they will get the chance to find the time or the resources to look for a house to rent or sort their finances out etc. before they actually come here. Ergo, Hobsons choice and cap’s in hands. Most of them are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. It could be any one of us.

    Most asylum seekers know very little about the UK benefits system (Home Office, Understanding the decision-making of asylum seekers, July 2002). Asylum seekers cannot claim mainstream income support. Single asylum seekers aged over 25 are entitled to £38.28, while single people under 25 receive £30. An asylum seeker is entitled to £42 a week per child under 16. This is 70 per cent of what a UK citizen claiming income support would receive.

    It’s equally wrong that British families and pensioners are cold, hungry and at risk from injury so let’s demand that they all receive help. Incidentally, the article fails to mention that there are government home safety equipment schemes in place whereby poor families are entitled to free or cheap household safety equipment such as fire guards, stair gates etc. so like I said, the article is misleading.

    Look, for the sake of perspective, there are about 9.9 million refugees in the world (the number increased in 2006 due to the Iraq war! Our illegal war!!) The majority of the world’s refugees are being tended to by the developing countries. To our shame, the UK takes a tiny fraction of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers. A very tiny fraction. Something like 3%. In the top ten industrialised countries hosting refugees, Britain comes eighth.


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