Article by Simran Bhuhi
The UK government’s recent decision to send refugees out of hotels and onto the streets has sparked concerns among legal professionals and humanitarian organisations. The move has also raised fears of the stigma attached to refugees and the potential for legal implications.
The decision has been criticised by many, including the chief executive of Refugee Action, Tim Naor Hilton, who called it “a shameful day” for the government. The policy will reportedly affect Albanian migrants who have arrived in the UK by small boats, which has been a contentious issue in recent months within the news.
The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has promised to bring in new laws to tackle illegal immigration, saying that anyone who comes to the UK illegally will not be allowed to stay. The legislation, set to be introduced early next year, will mean that people who do not come to the country through legal and safe routes “will be detained and swiftly returned either to their home country or a safe country where their asylum claim will be considered”. The safe country, in this case, is Rwanda and this has been criticised by many MPs.
Despite the government’s promises to work with the UN Refugee Agency to create more legal routes “so the UK remains a safe haven for the most vulnerable”, many critics have denounced the move as “cruel, ineffective and unlawful”. Labour has attacked the government’s announcements as “gimmicks”, while the Liberal Democrats have said that the plans would “weaken crucial protections for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery”.
The UK government’s approach to handling refugees has raised concerns about potential breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The government has inserted a section 19(1)(b) statement into the bill, which suggests that the government intends to proceed, despite Suella Braverman’s inability to confirm if the bill is compatible with the ECHR. This has been described as a “big red flashing light” by former parliamentary lawyer Alexander Horne. The statement indicates that if the bill is found to be problematic and incompatible with the ECHR, domestic courts will issue a declaration of incompatibility, but they cannot overrule primary legislation. This will then result in a conflict with the UK and Strasbourg. The Article 8 right to family life is the most likely convention right to be challenged, but others such as Article 3 (the prohibition of degrading, inhuman treatment) may also be challenged. The government’s use of section 19(1)(b) has raised suspicions among lawyers that they are setting up a confrontation with “lefty lawyers” and Strasbourg, which they can then blame for their failure to implement the measures.
Albania is a small Balkan country with a population of around 2.8 million. Despite its beautiful landscapes and rich history, it is not easy to build a life in Albania due to the economic challenges faced by the population.
According to data from the World Bank, Albania has a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $5,234, making it one of the poorest countries in Europe. The country also has a high unemployment rate, with around 12% of the population out of work, and youth unemployment is even higher at 28%. These factors make it difficult for people to find stable and well-paying jobs.
In addition, Albania faces significant inequality, with a Gini coefficient of 33.2%, which is higher than the European Union average of 30.4%. This means that there is a large wealth gap between the richest and poorest members of society, making it harder for those in poverty to access education, healthcare, and other essential services.
The cost of living in Albania is also relatively high compared to the average income, which is often challenging for people to make ends meet. For example, the average monthly salary in Albania is around $400, but the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Tirana, the capital, can be as high as $500 per month.
In addition to the economic challenges faced by Albania, the country also struggles with high crime and poverty rates. According to the World Bank, Albania’s poverty rate stood at 14.3% in 2020, with a significant proportion of the population living on less than $5.50 per day. This has resulted in a range of social problems, including limited access to education and healthcare, and an increased risk of crime.
These economic challenges make it difficult for people to build a stable life in Albania, and many people choose to emigrate in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Despite these difficulties, however, there are many Albanians who remain in their home country.
The decision to move refugees out of hotels and onto the streets has also raised concerns about the potential legal implications. The UK’s legal sector has expressed concerns that the move could lead to legal challenges against the government. The policy could also result in significant reputational damage for the UK, particularly in relation to its humanitarian obligations.
The policy will reportedly affect Albanian migrants who have arrived in the UK by small boats. The UK government has pledged to double the number of asylum caseworkers and streamline the process, with a promise to abolish the backlog by the end of next year. The government has also identified new sites, including disused holiday parks, former student halls, military sites, and even ferries to house asylum seekers.
However, critics have called on the government to focus on finding more sustainable solutions, including providing more legal and safe routes for refugees and asylum seekers. They argue that the current approach is not only inhumane but also unsustainable and will only exacerbate the existing challenges facing the UK’s asylum system.
In conclusion, the UK government’s decision to send refugees out of hotels and onto the streets has sparked concerns among legal professionals, humanitarian organisations, and members of the public. As the UK government continues to grapple with the challenges of illegal immigration and asylum seekers, many are calling for a more sustainable and humane approach to be adopted. The UK government’s focus on Albanian refugees appeared to have caused a stigma issue along with xenophobia.