I want to see asylum brought under control as much as anyone but can we please get past this notion that being holed up in a tatty Travelodge for months with next to no money, no information and virtually no social assistance is some kind of luxury existence?
I'm not surprised to see asylum seekers loitering and causing trouble when there's no effort to engage them or occupy them -while they know they're not wanted. As soon as they're in the system they're pretty much abandoned. Even if we don't want them, they deserve some dignity.
It's bad enough for us being in a state of lockdown but for asylum seekers, essentially stuck where they are, waiting for any kind of news from a slow, incomprehensible and bureaucratic system, it's a perpetual state of lockdown with or without Covid.
Anyone honest will tell you they've suffered from lockdown fatigue by now even with easements. Difficult to imagine that stress magnified many times, especially separated from family and perhaps suffering from trauma. The Glasgow incident will not be the last of its type.
Social welfare has to be more than just a subsistence allowance and shelter. There needs to be transparent processes, access to decent internet so they can monitor their applications, and some kind of organised activity, possibly in conjunction with museums/parks/sports centres.
Whether we want them here or not, the fact is they are here - and the more we do to acclimatise them, the fewer problems we will see down the line as regards to alienation and radicalisation. We can also do more for them by slowing the influx.
In respect of that we need to look at everything from border control to foreign and aid policy, concentrating on hotspots in conjunction with other countries. Help refugees to stay close to their homelands, in reasonable safety and comfort, and then to work toward their return.
Slowing the flow of this migration is dependent on restoring stability and security in sending and transit areas. UK foreign policy should centre of that objective with the committal of troops and aid where necessary. We need an active global role.
In places like Eritrea we see arbitrary and inhumane detention, no religious freedom, no freedom of expression and assembly and compulsory national service. According to HRW, since 2002 Eritrea has misused its national service system to keep a generation of Eritreans in bondage.
Service is indefinitely prolonged, extending for much of a citizen's working life. Pay is barely sufficient for survival. Recruits are used as cheap labour for the ruling party's commercial and agricultural enterprises. Female recruits report sexual abuse by officers.
We need to look at all the push factors and collaborate with others to tackle the problem at source. There is plenty we can do through aid and economic partnerships. We can stem the tide. In the meantime we have no excuses for treating asylum seekers the way we do.
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