14 December 2021 by BETHANY RIELLY
FEMALE refugees living in Britain spoke out yesterday against the Nationality and Borders Bill, warning that the changes will “destroy” the lives of other asylum-seekers.
Members of the All African Women’s Group (AAWG) who have experienced Britain’s asylum system warned that the proposals will make an already “horrendous” system even harder for women.
They were speaking at a webinar which aimed to “counter the lies put out about people fleeing for safety, including those arriving by boat on UK shores.”
Anna, a refugee from Albania, said that it took the Home Office 10 years to grant her asylum.
Under the new legislation, Anna said that she would have been detained or deported when reaching Britain.
“I wanted to say that the real problem is not us as asylum-seekers coming here to ask for safety or those who help us along the way to reach a safe place,” she said.
“I think the real problem is this government because the asylum system is already designed to fail us, to make our lives very difficult. And this Bill will just destroy us, there is no other way we can seek safety if this Bill is to come to power.
“I just feel for all those who come after me, what will happen to them when they try to reach the UK, when they try to get to safety.”
Lulu from the AAWG said that it was wrong for Home Secretary Priti Patel to say many of those arriving on small boats are not asylum-seekers.
“The process is really difficult as it is. Many have grounds for asylum, something like 70 per cent of people coming in small boats are refugees. The route from France is the only one available to them,” she said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that the Bill, which passed the House of Commons last week, will tackle “illegal immigration” and the “underlying pull factors into the UK’s asylum system.”
But the women recalled the struggles they faced applying for asylum in Britain under the current system.
Trinity said that she was forced to live in a house infested with cockroaches, bed bugs and rats where mould caused her son to develop asthma.
Another asylum-seeker called Zo said: “Me and my children were living on £5 a day. Each of us sleeping on one bed. We’re not allowed to work, to do anything.
“Sometimes I just wander around the shopping centre because I don’t have anything to do apart from picking up the kids from school. So we are not living in luxury, we are just living hand to mouth.”
The event was also hosted by Global Women Against Deportation.