Status Now 4 All Newsletter – February 2024. 

Welcome to the Status Now Newsletter for February 2024. 

Status Now 4 All Campaign

This is our call:

We call upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in *Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else

Our campaign continues to be as relevant as ever in this hostile environment, and we stand with those who share our concerns,  some of which are reflected in the following news items. We begin with news from StatusNow4All signatory organisations and then point the reader to just a few of the many articles that confirm the need for our existence.

Sisters Not Strangers conference

Details of Sisters not Strangers Conference on Friday 16th Feb 2024, 2:00pm to 5:00pm in Liverpool

Join us for a powerful event of connection and collaboration as SistersNotStrangers comes to Liverpool for an afternoon conference! 

This event is a unique opportunity to meet members of our coalition, particularly those working with asylum seekers, refugees, or individuals with lived experiences.

SistersNotStrangers is a UK-based coalition dedicated to supporting asylum-seeking and refugee women. It is made of 7 groups: The Women’s Group (Swansea), DEWA (Sheffield), Women for Refugee Women (London), CARAG (Coventry), Refugee Women Connect (Liverpool), Women Seeking Asylum Together (Manchester)c, Women With Hope (Birmingham).

Our mission is to campaign against destitution and other inhumane policies affecting women seeking safety in the UK. SistersNotStrangers envision a world where these women are seen as sisters, not strangers – as women, neighbours, mothers, colleagues, and activists.

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Migrant Voice organised a Roundtable Event on Tuesday 6 February 2024, for Migration Week 2024

This is part of Migrant Voice efforts to advance the agenda for a migration system that respects the dignity of all people. It stems from the conviction that the system should adhere to the UK’s commitment on the global stage. It is also an attempt to advance the discussion on migration beyond the hostile narrative that is presented by the current government.

Read more here:

Exporting People Seeking Asylum

27 January 2024: The Guardian: Revealed: UK granted asylum to Rwandan refugees while arguing country was safe

Home Office said refugees’ fear of persecution was ‘well-founded’, undermining Rishi Sunak’s claims about East African country

Four Rwandans were granted refugee status in the UK over “well-founded” fears of persecution at the same time as the government was arguing in court and parliament that the east African country was a safe place to send asylum seekers.

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The Home Office’s attempts to evade its obligations for humane reception of refugees was one of the major issues of 2023.  The use of the Bibby Stockholm barge and decommissioned army barracks were constantly in the news, providing evidence of harm to people caught up in long drawn-out procedures for claiming asylum.

Among the scandals of the year has been the government’s efforts to offshore asylum altogether by sending anyone deemed to have used ‘illegal’ routes of entry to foreign jurisdictions, with Rwanda providing the most controversial l example. Developments under these heading were monitored by Status Now supporters across the year.  Their work was compiled in a blog published on our wesite in December and can be viewed here.

The death of a man on the Bibby Stockholm barge, the suicide attempts by men at a former RAF base in rural Essex, and the deaths of a woman and a man in the Channel were the subject of a blogpost by Charlotte Khan of Care4Calais also published on our website in December.  You can read it here.  

Bibby Stockholm and the use of barges

24 January 2024: Open Democracy: Torture victims being housed on Bibby Stockholm in possible breach of rules

Revelation comes weeks after death of Leonard Farruku on board the controversial asylum barge.

Vulnerable people including victims of torture are being housed on the Bibby Stockholm in a potential breach of the government’s own guidelines, those on board have told openDemocracy.

The allegations come just weeks after the death of a man on board. Leonard Farruku, an Albanian man, is thought to have killed himself in December. Speaking to us, his former roommate warned Farruku’s death was “just the beginning”.

Current residents of the barge spoke on condition of anonymity and included a man from the Horn of Africa, who told openDemocracy that he was a victim of torture. The man, who had previously been housed in a hotel and receiving psychological support, has been on the barge in a shared room since November 2023. Members of local residents’ organisation Portland Global Friendship Group, which offers informal pastoral support and activities for dozens of people on the Bibby Stockholm, told openDemocracy that they knew of at least two other victims of torture – one from Russia, another from Iran – who were also on board.

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Children and the Hostile Environment

10 January 2024: iNews: Home Office starts X-raying migrants’ bones and teeth to determine their age.

Those who refuse to have X-rays to determine their age may be penalised, according to the Home Office.

The Home Office will begin using teeth and bone X-rays to determine the age of asylum seekers arriving in the UK.

New legislation, that came into force on Wednesday, means the Home Office will now be able to use “scientific methods” to assess age, including radiographs of molars, hands and wrists, and MRI scans of the thigh bone and collarbone.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has described the X-rays as “pseudoscience” which fail “basic tests on ethics and accuracy”.

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and 23 January 2024: Written jointly by the Refugee Council, the Helen Bamber Foundation and Humans for Rights Network ‘Forced Adulthood -The Home Office’s incorrect determination of age and how this leaves child refugees at risk.

It was written jointly by the Refugee Council, the Helen Bamber Foundation and Humans for Rights Network. It found that at least 1,300 refugee children were placed in unsupervised adult accommodation and detention in an 18-month period (January 2022 to June 2023), after being wrongly age-assessed on arrival in the UK. We think that real numbers are likely to be much higher as data was not received from all local authorities. 

This data paints a bleak picture of separated children‘s experiences on arrival in the UK. Behind each case there is a child who has been failed by the system, experienced abuse, exploitation, distress, or harm. All of these traumas are entirely preventable, children are subjected to these harms as a direct result of being wrongly placed in adult accommodation due to the Home Office age assessment policy at the point of entry.

This is a safeguarding crisis on an unprecedented scale which we like to bring to your attention in the hope it will be possible for us to work together to address system failures and ensure that all children are protected from the moment they Home Office starts X-raying migrants’ bones and teeth to determine their age