There are so many issues and so many injustices around asylum
seekers and refugees that it’s hard to know where to start.
That is why Community Care’s campaign has been
welcomed by those working with asylum seekers and refugees as it
has helped focus attention on some of the key areas of
The essence of the campaign has been to try and ensure that
people entering the UK seeking asylum are treated as human beings.
A fairly modest aim you might think but unfortunately a culture of
ignorance and prejudice among the general public about asylum
seekers means the human face is often forgotten. And the prejudice
is worsened by a lack of objective and easily accessible
information on the subject.
Since I arrived in the UK things have changed for asylum
seekers, but sadly not for the better. I claimed asylum in the
early 1990s and although there were killings and torture happening
in Kosova, it was only when large-scale fighting occurred in 1998
that the West took an interest, which lead to the Nato intervention
in 1999. As an asylum seeker, I felt that although I had gained
some freedom I had also lost a lot. Some people wrongly believe
that all asylum seekers are peasants. In my own case, before the
troubles started I had a good quality of life in Kosova and I was
much more financially secure than I have ever been since seeking
It took the Home Office nine long years to grant me indefinite
leave to remain. Nowadays, asylum claims are processed much more
quickly. Nearly two-thirds receive an initial decision within two
months, which in itself is no bad thing, although they are treated
with hostility while their claims are being decided.
The outrage is that a large proportion of these people, who the
newspapers are eager to denounce as “bogus”, are rejected purely on
“non-compliance” grounds. They are being refused refuge because of
bureaucratic barriers, which have nothing to do with their need for
Onerous forms must be completed within a week, which include
translations. Most asylum seekers don’t know the legal
process and have no access to independent legal representatives.
Other asylum seekers are left destitute in the streets, and
families are being herded into detention centres with prison-like
Consider what it is like for someone seeking refuge: they are
fleeing war, terror, perhaps the loss of loved ones. Coming to this
country in fear and distress they are simply seeking safety. But
they are confronted with the brutal complexity of an alien system
and still more humiliation and fear.
How long will British people shut their eyes to the everyday
scandal of what is being done to asylum seekers in their name? How
long will human rights continue to be flouted? And how long will
asylum seekers be treated as if they are somehow less than