Displaying items by tag: asylum seekers
Albanian drug gangs use French migrant camps as recruitment grounds. They pay the passage for those prepared to work in the UK drugs industry on arrival. Senior police and immigration officials on both sides of the Channel are worried by the growing number of Albanian middlemen facilitating crossings. Albanians accounted for 1/3 of the people arriving in small boats this year. They have the right to enter France as EU tourists for up to three months without a visa., and are urged on by social media adverts promising help. Posing as an Albanian migrant, a journalist contacted two people-smugglers advertising for clients on TikTok. Both responded within half an hour, with options to pay in France or in England, and guidance for getting to Belgium or France, where a fixer would make contact. The message from both of them was ‘It's easy’.
Petrol bombs exploded at a Dover migrant centre causing 700 refugees to be transferred to Manston centre, a short-term holding facility for up to 1,600 people for 24 hours. But there were already 4,000 on the dangerously overcrowded site with some migrants threatening to self-harm and hunger strike and unrest spreading across the camp. Dozens of charities, sent an open letter to Ms Braverman (who had referred to the refugee crisis as an invasion) saying, ‘You refer to this country's proud history of offering sanctuary, so we ask you to make this happen with fair, kind and effective systems for refugees. Deal with the backlog in asylum cases, create safe routes, respect the UN convention on refugees, and give refugees a fair hearing, however they get here.’ The next day hundreds of migrants were moved to hotels as the government was accused of presiding over a ‘shambles’. Meanwhile a group of migrants were reportedly mistakenly taken from Manston and stranded in central London, cold, hungry and without accommodation.
The Czech EU presidency is proposing an annual minimum on the number of asylum seekers EU states are willing to relocate. The idea is part of bigger discussions on solidarity sharing, a concept eluding member states when it comes to EU-wide migration and asylum reforms. A Czech presidency paper is proposing either 5,000 or 10,000 voluntary relocations annually as suggestions to gauge what EU states are willing to accept. That debate feeds into an overhaul of the EU's asylum and migration laws proposed by the 2020 European Commission. The solidarity ideas are among many that have sought to create some sort of balance with what the EU has coined flexible responsibility. It is not immediately clear if EU states will agree to the Czech presidency idea. Should they fall short, it will be up to the next EU presidency under Sweden to try to find a solution.
Sixty members of a Chinese church have submitted applications for asylum in Bangkok, after being denied refuge in South Korea. They had fled the communist regime to escape religious persecution. Pastor Pan’s church has been on the run for years. He said the persecution is growing worse. The group remains stateless, jobless, and homeless, but not without faith. ‘We're thinking of our children's future. We refuse to put their education in the hands of the Communist Party, to give them an atheist education, and to turn their backs on God. So we are willing to pay this price to flee China to allow them to keep going to church school and to know God. Although we don't know what we will encounter in the future, what our God gives us is the best. He will lead us through these issues; God always has the best plan and arrangement.’
On 1 August almost 700 migrants crossed the English Channel in 14 small boats, a record for the year so far. The French authorities stopped one boat at sea with 35 people on board. Government figures state over 17,000 people have arrived in the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats so far in 2022. Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have both vowed to toughen controls on migration into the UK as part of their bids to become next Tory leader and prime minister. Mr Sunak said he would tighten the definition of who qualifies for asylum and introduce a cap on refugee numbers. Ms Truss said she would increase the number of Border Force staff and extend the UK's Rwanda asylum plan. However, no asylum seekers have been sent to the East African country yet following a series of legal challenges. See
Days after 27 people drowned in the English Channel, the BBC discovered that smuggling gangs are still telling migrants it is safe to cross. One smuggler said that the drownings were a lie and that there was no danger in making the journey. The brutal journeys migrants make across the Channel are full of stories of crisis. Pray for the detection and removal of the guerrilla-style smuggling operations among the French dunes. Pray for authorities to have more compassion for the streams of soaking passengers washing ashore in Kent. Pray for this international criminal industry to be thwarted by even more sophisticated detection. Pray for an end to the supply of specially-made boats that refugees are packed into. New arrivals in French camps are given tips on how to find a people-smuggler. One young man from Afghanistan was told to look for ‘the Kurdish man’ hanging around during food distribution.
Syrian refugee and aid worker Yusra Mardini went on trial on 18 November with over two dozen other aid workers from various countries, for helping migrants reach Greece between 2016 and 2018. The defendants face charges including forgery, espionage, and the unlawful use of radio frequencies. Human rights groups have condemned the trial as being politically motivated; Amnesty International called the charges ‘farcical’ and said they should never have come to trial. If found guilty, the aid workers could face five-year prison sentences. Some remain under investigation for a number of other felonies, including human smuggling, which could lead to further sentences of up to 25 years. Irishman Sean Binder said, ‘I am happy to defend myself; I know I did nothing wrong, and we can prove that. I am charged with crimes that I am supposed to have committed a year before I was ever on Lesbos.’ STOP PRESS: the trial has been suspended, but will now be heard by an appeal court.
Kasia Wappa lives by Poland’s national park where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding on a scale not seen since World War 2. She is part of a network trying to save emaciated Middle Eastern immigrants who have been emerging from the wilderness since September. Most had spent days without food or water and were suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion. Some were sick from drinking swamp water. Kasia began by donating warm clothes, and now helps rescue parties retrieve lost and starving people from the woods. But the flow of migrants has increased, and she warns that many probably never make it. Ten deaths have been confirmed, and they have rescued many on the verge of dying. The Polish government has built a three-kilometre deep security cordon the length of its Belarus border to curb illegal immigration. All reporters are banned, creating a media blackout to hide the scale of the crisis. Rescuers now behave like insurgents, operating at night and evading police patrols.
Officials have started moving asylum-seekers to a new migrant camp on the island of Samos, Zervou, despite activists complaining that access controls are too harsh. A double barbed-wire fence surrounds the camp with surveillance cameras, X-ray scanners and magnetic doors. During the 2015/16 migrant crisis the previous camp on Samos sheltered 7,000 asylum-seekers despite its capacity being just 680. Campaigners had long denounced conditions there as deplorable. On 20 September at Zervou’s entrance police lined up the first residents, checking for weapons or dangerous objects. Asylum personnel handed out bedsheets and showed the migrants how to use the gate's magnetic entry cards. The new Samos facility is the first of several such camps on five Greek islands created with EU funds. All the ‘closed controlled’ camps can only be entered via fingerprint scans and electronic badges. Gates will remain closed at night and disciplinary measures await those who return after 8 pm.
Christians and others are being encouraged to welcome a refugee or asylum-seeker into their homes as part of a new initiative. The Hospitality Pledge was launched this week and will work with international charities and the church to speak up for the displaced. It's being led by Dr Krish Kandiah with the aim of encouraging people to offer sanctuary to those who are persecuted or fleeing conflict as offering sanctuary is at the heart of the Gospel. ‘Christians are called to show mercy and compassion to those that are in need. Jesus once said, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. In welcoming, to the least of those in our society is a demonstration of the love and compassion of Jesus. Right now our nation has an interesting relationship with asylum and welcoming refugees.’ Dr Kandiah assured enquirers that there will be a lot of support available for anyone who decides to accommodate a refugee or asylum-seeker.