Women’s safety threatened by new asylum proposals 

Women for Refugee Women, the charity working with women who have sought asylum in the UK, responds to the plans put forward today by Priti Patel, Home Secretary, for widespread changes in the asylum process. 

Alphonsine Kabagabo, director of Women for Refugee Women, says: The proposals that are being put forward make me so sad, because I remember my own journey to safety from the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.  I was so lucky to be rescued with my family by Belgian soldiers who had to hide us in a tank. Here at Women for Refugee Women we work with many women who are still forced to flee their countries and their persecutors in dangerous ways. We need to be able to ensure that they are able to rebuild their lives with dignity and in safety if they get to the UK. I am concerned that the possibility of finding safety from persecution is being threatened by these proposals.’ 

Among the new plans published today 24 March are proposals to: 

  • Limit permanent settlement in the UK to refugees who have entered under formal resettlement routes. Those seeking asylum who have entered the UK in other ways will only be given temporary leave to remain even when they are recognised as refugees. 
  • Limit rights to make fresh claims and appeals, so that all aspects of the claim for protection (whether an asylum claim, human rights protection or protection from trafficking), must be brought right at the beginning of the process. 

Women for Refugee Women works with many women who have entered the UK through irregular routes, including being brought across borders by smugglers or traffickers or travelling on false papers. These women are often fleeing extreme violence and persecution. They need the stability of permanent leave to remain so that they can begin to rebuild their lives. 

Women for Refugee Women also works with many women who have been unable to disclose the full extent of their persecution at the beginning of the asylum process. Women who have experienced gender-based violence, including rape, persecution on grounds of their sexuality, and trafficking into forced prostitution, often require mental health support and quality legal advice before they can build the confidence to disclose their experiences. The ability to lodge fresh claims and bring new evidence to appeals is therefore a vital safeguard for vulnerable women. 

Women for Refugee Women welcomes commitments made in these proposals to expand humanitarian routes to safety, ensure more support for those who are resettled in the UK, and improve access to legal advice for those in the asylum process. However, it is absolutely vital that safeguards for vulnerable women are not stripped away.  

For more information, quotations, interviews and case studies, please contact Natasha Walter or Samantha Hudson on 07518 397761, natasha@refugeewomen.co.uk or samantha@refugeewomen.co.uk