Tell the Home Office: stop treating asylum seekers like suspected terrorists

The Home Office, when it interviews asylum-seekers, treats them like dirt. Young asylum-seekers get told they are over sixteen - when they aren't - so that the Home Office can treat them as adults. They act like they suspect them of being economic migrants or even terrorists - in spite of the fact that terrorists would not come down the refugee route and face the ordeals that refugees have to endure. As the Refugee Council puts it:-

"A significant number of politicians, policy makers and the public appear to believe that asylum seekers are actually economic migrants who make decisions about where to seek asylum based on information about asylum systems, opportunities for employment and access to welfare benefits."

This is not the case. They have not come here seeking benefits, they have come because they are fleeing from danger. Asylum-seekers are caring, polite, and usually well-spoken. Meanwhile there are good reasons why some have difficulties with the English language. Many of these are either traumatised or have had some other bad experience. The very fact that they are fleeing from danger should be reason enough for the Home Office interviewers to be patient with them - and they should know why it is not easy for all asylum-seekers to learn a new language and to speak it fluently. Such asylum-seekers need people to give them time and to be more understanding.

Then there is the inaccurate age assessment process. To quote the Coram Childrens' Legal Centre:

"The age of an unaccompanied child is extremely important. It determines a child's access to education and support, affects the way in which their asylum claim is processed and can even be a decisive factor in a claim for asylum.

Adult asylum seekers and families are entitled to support, including accommodation and essential living needs, from the Home Office. For children seeking asylum, however, support should be provided by the local authority in which they are physically present. This support includes help accessing education that is of an appropriate level, which is highly age-dependent.

Age is central to identity, and the age assessment process can be very damaging for children who are disbelieved. It is extremely important that age assessments are only carried out where there is significant reason to doubt the claimant's age."

We need to make sure the Home Office realise all this. We need to tell them to treat asylum-seekers properly.
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