Home Office pressured to reverse refugee ‘safe return’ policy

Safya Khan-Ruf - 27 04 17

Over 50 organisations have called on the Government to axe a recent refugee policy that creates “an environment of uncertainty, instability, and threat”.

The Home Office decided in March that refugees would take part in a ‘safe return review’ five years after being granted their status. The review is to ensure the refugees cannot safely return to their home country and must stay in the UK.

The organisations have sent an open letter to Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, calling the policy disruptive, expensive and inhumane.

Amber Rudd, Home Secretary. Courtesy of Number 10/Flickr

“This move is part of a worrying trend to weaken the concept of a refugee and to make the UK a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants,” the letter states.


Previously, those recognised as refugees in the UK were granted five years of refugee status or humanitarian protection, after which they could apply for permanent settlement – this was almost always granted.

Makhosi Sigabade, a refugee living in the UK, is worried about the changes.

“After being given a false sense of hope and stability I am being made to relive the nightmares of my past. I am now confronted with a possibility of going back to face the same persecution from which I fled. The system meant to protect people seeking sanctuary threatens to expose them to the dangers they flee.”

Courtesy of Moyan Brenn

The organisations write that the new policy extends a traumatic period for refugees, has a detrimental impact on integration and social cohesion, has significant financial costs to administer the additional layer of applications, and that no real benefits to outweigh the costs have been explained.

“What incentive do new members of our community have to become part of the place they live, to invest in it, to call it home, if they may have to leave again?” the letter states.

Organisations that have signed the letter include Right to Remain, Displaced People in Action, Black Lives Matter UK, the Scottish Refugee Council, Against Borders for Children and Calais Action.

The Home Office has declined to comment under the “purdah” rules which limit government activity before elections and referendum.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees published a report earlier this week showing thousands of refugees find themselves hungry and homeless due to inequalities in the UK refugee system.


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