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Asylum seekers in the UK: ‘It feels like we are in a prison’

Threats of deportation to Rwanda and restrictions on movement are part of the daily reality experienced by thousands of asylum seekers in the United Kingdom, during their stay in shelters for supposedly “temporary” periods, according to a British NGO. In a report published yesterday, Thursday, he drew attention to the physical and psychological harm to people, resulting from their stay in places that make them feel as if they are in a “prison”.

A British non-governmental organization warned of the negative effects on tens of thousands of asylum seekers resulting from reception conditions that “harm their physical and mental health,” and pointed out that they live in places that restrict their freedom and an environment dominated by “fear of attacks by racist groups.”

If we complained about the hotel, they told us that the Ministry of Interior would take us to Rwanda

Refugee Action published a 35-page report, in which it said that 50,000 asylum seekers are currently living in temporary or “emergency” accommodation in hotels, isolated from communities, and subjected to restrictions in “fundamental freedoms,” pointing to the complex details of daily life. Their movement is restricted, as they cannot receive guests and are instructed that “if they leave for short periods, for a day or two, they cannot return.”

One of the asylum seekers spoke about the conditions of their stay in the hotel, where he feels as if he is living in a “prison”, noting that he and his colleagues are subjected to threats of deportation if they file a complaint, and he said, “If we complain about the hotel, they tell us that the Ministry of Interior will transfer us to Rwanda. The staff have a master key And they enter the room, without knocking (the door) or telling us.”

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Over the past year, the British government has announced crackdowns on asylum seekers, the most controversial of which is the plan to transfer illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. It is currently studying a draft law under which arrivals could be detained pending the authorities’ deportation to a third “safe” country, particularly Rwanda, meaning that they would not be able to apply for asylum.

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Long waiting times and declining mental health

The report focused on three locations, London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, indicating that families with children stay for long periods ranging from six months to a year, noting that the period specified for them according to the law should not exceed six weeks.

The organization said they have no access to legal or social services and have limited contact with the outside world due to movement restrictions and the cost of transportation and communications.

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The impact of “living in detention for long periods of time is particularly severe for children”, and in many cases, children stopped going to school due to the distance between the hotel and school and the difficulty of accessing transportation, in addition to the inability to purchase school uniforms and the necessary tools due to Not receiving enough financial support.

71% of respondents to the organization’s survey reported a “deterioration in their mental health”. People reported being “unable to sleep, suffering from chronic fear and anxiety” as well as “depression and suicidal thoughts”.

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Housing asylum seekers in quality housing is achievable

The organization points out that the state’s use of private housing companies brings a huge profit to private contractors, and indicated that the value of asylum and support contracts amounts to 4 billion pounds over ten years, and the Ministry of Interior paid “an estimated 28% more to service providers in the first year.” of her work.”

The organization stresses that housing asylum seekers in quality housing is achievable.

It calls on the government to cooperate with and support local authorities and non-governmental organizations to manage shelters within the communities where legal support and advice is available.

A spokesperson for the Home Office denied “the allegations made in the report,” particularly regarding threats or restrictions on movement, but said, quoting a newspaper: The British GuardianThe government will consider complaints about the services provided by hotels.