Portfolio of Hope

The definition of an asylum seeker, as per Amnesty Internationals website is;

‘A person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognised as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim.’

Seeking asylum is a human right, something which the UK government know but are finding loopholes for, doing the bare minimum and nothing more, just to meet the requirements of the law, as was confirmed by a Home Office spokesman:

‘Despite the number of people arriving in the UK reaching record levels, we continue to provide accommodation – at a cost of £6m a day – for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, to meet our legal obligation.’

Note the term of phrase, ‘to meet our legal obligation’, here… The government are not ‘accommodating’ asylum seekers out of the kindness of their heart, because they have empathy and want to help, they’re doing so because it is a ‘legal obligation’ (i.e., they’re doing so because they have no choice in the matter)…

Because our Governments original plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was overturned- it was deemed to be ‘unlawful’ by the court of appeal judges-(The court heard from UNHCR that Rwanda had a record of human rights abuses towards refugees within its borders, including refoulement, expulsions, and arbitrary detention)- our poor excuse for a government have decided to do something which I consider to be equally as bad. They’re putting all the asylum seekers, many of whom will be traumatised, if not from their home country which they were likely fleeing from, then from their journey across the sea to reach the UK on, wait for it…

A barge.

I really wish I was joking. How the government think that this is a ‘good’ solution is beyond me. Far right idiocracy springs to mind…

Surely I can’t be the only one left feeling extremely uncomfortable about all of this. 500 asylum seekers set to be placed on what has been likened to a ‘floating prison’ (a floating prison which only has 222 cabins, by the way. It doesn’t take much to work out that it will be vastly overcrowded)…

Unfortunately, many people, and certainly our government, lack the basic skill of empathy needed to feel uncomfortable about it, though. Because we collectively have a ‘sheltered’ existence in the UK- we are safe and have no need to flee our country- it can be difficult to relate to asylum seekers, granted, but, just use your imagination. Just imagine that a war had broken out in the UK and your only chance of survival was to flee to another country. And then, imagine that, upon reaching that other country, when you are already traumatised by what you have witnessed, you’re put on a boat- a floating prison- in the middle of the sea. This is what is happening in our country. Asylum seekers will be, not officially detained, but certainly a far cry from ‘free’- their movements controlled within the limits of the law meaning that, if they do leave the barge, they will be in a ‘secure compound’ beside the vessel. The hope is that few people will leave the barge though, as it has been designed in a way that people will be encouraged not to… ‘Self-sufficient’, there is catering, recreational areas, and basic health care provision on board to ‘minimise the impact on the local community.’ It’s nothing like a ‘hotel’ at all, which is what the government were claiming it to be, it’s a floating vessel stuck in the middle of the sea, something which putting asylum seekers on will, as health experts have already warned, cause ‘unimaginable levels of harm and trauma’, putting them at risk of PTSD, depression, and suicidal behaviour- serious, (unavoidable), psychological damage arising as a result of our governments lack of empathy…

Why are the government doing this then? To, supposedly, ‘send a message to people not to come to the UK seeking safety.’ Seeking SAFETY. Where is our basic decency? Do we have no conscience??

‘For people who have experienced trauma at sea – particularly asylum-seekers – the sea may be a sad, dangerous place. A place of loss. A place of fear.’- Tigs Louis Puttick, Reclaim the Sea.

It doesn’t take much searching to come to some understanding as to just how horrific a journey it is for someone seeking asylum. Just look at the boat that capsized last month in Greece. Up to 500 people died as a result. A Greek social worker who looked after some of the survivors explained how, ‘water ran out on the boat days before it sank, forcing passengers to drink their own urine and suck water from the melting refrigerators.’ She recalled one survivor who told her that ‘for two hours he was swimming surrounded by the bodies of children’, and a young man in his 20s who, ‘wanted to commit suicide, wanted to jump into the sea and kill himself because he couldn’t take it anymore.’

I just can’t get my head around how the government think that shoving asylum seekers on a barge will help in any way shape or form. It would be like sending Ukrainian refugees to Russia to fight on the frontline. Completely nonsensical. Inhumane. Wrong. So wrong. These people are human beings and deserve to be treated as such, not cast out onto disused vessels because; #outofsightoutofmind.

‘People seeking asylum need stability, to be able to maintain contact with their loved ones and to feel safe. Docked barges, which are isolated from the wider community, do not offer the supportive environment that people coping with the trauma of having to flee their homes need’- Christina Marriott, British Red Cross.

All asylum-seekers should have the dignity of living in communities instead of being forced to live at large-scale containment sites, being treated like criminals for simply wanting a better life (or any life at all, in some cases). It’s shameful, a sad state of affairs when the UK is essentially saying that they can’t be arsed, that they don’t want to help… When the government would rather shove the, oftentimes traumatised asylum seekers on a plane and send them on their way to Rwanda, or, as is the case with their latest bright idea, get them off the boats they risked their lives coming across to the UK on and put them on… a barge??, segregating them, making them feel ‘other’, feeding into the racist narrative that asylum seekers are somehow ‘dangerous.’ It’s so sad, a reflection of the current state of our country-

a shambles.

Welcome to ‘Great‘ (how ironic) Britain…

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