William Eichler 25 April 2017

MPs condemn ‘unfair’ two-tier system of refugee protection

MPs have condemned the creation of a ‘two-tier system of refugee protection’ which is leaving refugees homeless and destitute, undermining their integration prospects.

A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on refugees has found that refugees brought to the UK through a Government-led resettlement scheme are provided with accommodation and receive support to access services and find employment.

However, refugees who arrive in the UK and go through the asylum process are given no support once their applications have been approved.

This was not always the case, the report notes. Between 2008 and 2011, the Government funded a one year programme — the Refugee Integration and Employment Service — to help newly recognised refugees settle in.

Since this programme was cut, the APPG report warned, people whose refugee status has been granted following an asylum claim are left to rely on charities and local individuals.

The chair of the APPG, Thangam Debbonaire MP, described the disparity created by this two-tier system as a ‘costly missed opportunity for Britain’.

‘A refugee is a refugee however they were granted status,’ she said.

‘Most will want to return home when conflict is over and in the meantime want to contribute to this country. These are often skilled professionals, and by definition, they all have strength and determination to offer.

‘But there are administrative flaws in the system which could be easily fixed. Creating a two-tier system for refugees, loading the dice against people who come here to build a new life, is not just the wrong thing to do, but a costly missed opportunity for Britain.’

Ms Debbonaire urged the Government to learn from the ‘positive examples’ of the resettlement programme and the Scottish integration scheme to enable refugees to contribute and feel welcomed.

‘Refugees bring so many talents and skills – they just need the opportunities to unlock their potential,’ she added.

Responding to the report, Refugee Council chief executive Maurice Wren said: ‘It’s unacceptable that the Government treats refugees unequally by offering a relative few the necessary help and support they need to integrate into British life, while simultaneously consigning another much larger group to the high risk of homelessness, hunger and despair.

‘These are people who have fled the same bombs and the same bullets; it’s vital the Government recognises that they need the same support to begin rebuilding their lives.’

Photo: Procyk Radek / Shutterstock.com

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