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Published: 27/03/2008

Response to the Independent Asylum Commission (IAC) report on the asylum system.

7th March 2008

Response to the Independent Asylum Commission (IAC) report on the asylum system.

Since commencing our involvement with the asylum process in 2000 Migrant Helpline have seen some changes made by the Government which have improved the asylum system. These changes include the introduction of information briefings for newly arrived individuals and the changes in 2007 allocating individual case owners to oversee the entire application process for each asylum seeker.

However we remain concerned about the process and procedures for detention and the high level of destitution brought about by the system. These concerns are highlighted and commented on further by the report commissioned by the IAC.


A recent snapshot survey of our clients in Kent and Sussex found that 40% of them were destitute. A quarter of these clients were destitute as a result of bureaucratic errors or delays.

The IAC report recognises that “destitution has far reaching social consequences, including vulnerability to sexual exploitation, cessation of education and additional individual trauma” and Migrant Helpline fully support these findings. The IAC report also notes that the “prohibition of work for those who cannot be returned is a waste of potential and revenue”. Where possible Migrant Helpline would support processes and recommendations that seek to cut down the rate of destitution among asylum seekers and implement appropriate, humane support structures for those who cannot return.


Migrant Helpline does not believe that detention is a humane way to treat individuals who have not committed any crimes, particularly as many are already fleeing torture and inhumane treatment and will still be suffering the mental anguish of this.

It is indefensible that children in families are detained and that they are exposed to traumatic and sometimes violent enforced returns processes. Migrant Helpline believe that where removals do occur this should be done in a humane way that seeks to avoid detention. We are therefore pleased that the government is funding an “alternative to detention” pilot, managed by Migrant Helpline, that provides supported accommodation and advice on voluntary return for those at the end of the process.


External Article Link: www.migranthelpline.org.uk/migrant_helpline_news/migrant_helpline_news.cfm?id=260

Article Link: www.migranthelpline.org.uk/migrant_helpline_news/migrant_helpline_news.cfm?id=260

Please contact the author at mhl@migranthelpline.org for more information.


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