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Calls for law change as asylum seekers report harrowing treatment across Europe

by Safya Khan-Ruf | Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Refugees should not be sent back to European countries with proven records of human rights abuses according to charity Migrant Voice, which has recorded refugee abuse across Europe.

The organisation collected testimonies from asylum seekers in the UK fighting removal to other European states. They face return under the so-called Dublin Regulation, in which asylum seekers are supposed to apply to the first EU country they enter.

‘The compassionate majority in Britain will realise we must allow those refugees with familial or social connections in Britain to settle immediately – and the European Union must suspend Dublin transfers and replace the system as a matter of grave urgency,’ said Nazek Ramadan, the director of Migrant Voices, which aims to abolish the Dublin Regulations.

He added that the current system ‘gambles with the lives of vulnerable people fleeing the world’s most desperate circumstances, treating refugees like balls to be bounced from country to country with no chance of building a real future.’

The charity urged greater transparency in the asylum process and called for a standardised application process across Europe to replace the Dublin Regulations.

Last year, more than 1.2 million asylum applications were made in the EU according to Eurostat, with the highest number of asylum seekers going to Germany, Italy and France. Nawaz said the current system does not work for any involved, from asylum seekers to the Home Office, nor the ‘struggling economies in Southern Europe having to do more than their fair share’.

The charity published the report on 15 March, detailing the abuse some refugees have faced in EU member states. Asylum seekers have described being locked in cages, beaten and starved for days in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania.

Mohammed Ismail, one of the refugees interviewed, is still fighting his deportation from the UK and is worried about returning to Bulgaria where he was ‘continuously tortured and starved for weeks, abused physically and mentally’.

‘If there was a legal way I would have come legally,’ he added. ‘No one wants to put themselves through torture and pain and suffering and human rights abuse, but I had no choice.’

Case Study

“Dawoud” was 28 when he fled Iran because of his political activities. His parents and brother were refugees in the UK but when he reached Romania he was put in a camp. Dawoud described how ‘water dripped through the electrics – we were electrocuted often. Children and families screamed. We lived in fear of the wild dogs who circled the camp, attacking and biting us. We were given no food; we had to go through bins in the town nearby for scraps.’

Dawoud escaped to the Netherlands, was returned and then managed to get to the UK. He had been living in hiding for the past two years, fearful of being sent back to Romania. A few months ago, he declared himself to the Home Office and he received a letter informing him that Romania had been asked to take him back.

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