The New Politics of Asylum

After the welcome announcement that the Lib-Con Coalition intended to end the detention of child asylum seekers in prison-like facilities such as Dungavel, (and the climb-down over time scales), we might be seeing a glimpse of how this issue is going to be dealt with. It could be rather bad news as regards the future of immigration policy in the UK and EU.

Last week, the EU agreed, in principle, to various member states setting up reintegration centres in Afghanistan. The centre planned by the UK Border Agency will be based in Kabul, with the facilities to handle 12 deported orphans per month and assistance for 120 deported adults per month. This would represent a massive step up in the numbers of asylum seekers being deported to Afghanistan.

It is worth remembering that Afghanistan is still an active warzone with a high degree of political instability and considerable problems with warlords, rape, murder and general human rights breaches. It is unlikely that British or NATO troops will exit Afghanistan in the near future without chronically destabilising the country. The idea that Afghanistan is safe to return asylum seekers to en mass is obscene and shows a lack of compassion or decency in the minds of our policy makers.

While initially, this is only going to apply to Afghanistan, I am concerned that it might open the doors to further similar projects in other countries. Many of the asylum seekers and immigrants from outside of Europe are here for genuine reasons and will face death or worse if they return to their original countries, something which this initial policy does not seem to take into account. Even with the recession, we should not be valuing the  wealth of state or the appeasement of the right above the value of a human life.

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