September 14, 2021

Burma Campaign UK is calling on MPs and Lords from all political parties to block the passage of the anti-refugee Nationalities and Borders Bill when it returns to Parliament in the Autumn.

Burma Campaign UK is concerned by several provisions in the anti-refugee Bill which could have a negative impact on potential refugees from Burma.

Refugees who arrive in the UK via third countries could potentially be refused the right to claim asylum, be jailed, and face deportation.

If the government is unable to remove them, they will be able to apply to claim asylum but if successful they will only receive temporary leave to remain, rather than permanent status. This will mean refugees from Burma will live in constant fear that their status can be revoked at any time. It will create incredible stress and uncertainty for people who have already faced extreme trauma and many of whom have already faced repeated displacement because of attacks by the Burmese military. Temporary leave to remain also makes it much more challenging to access things like financial services.

Asylum seekers could be forced to live in government accommodation rather than with communities, for example refugees from Burma staying with communities from Burma, who can provide practical and emotional support and advice.

Since the military coup on 1st February 2021, there is a growing human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in the country, with military attacks on civilian populations displacing a quarter of a million people, more than 7,000 people arrested and more than 1,000 killed, including children. An increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the UK is likely, but many will probably arrive via neighbouring countries.

Unreasonable rules and conditions for Burmese people seeking visas for the UK already made it challenging for many people from Burma to get legal visa approval, even before the pandemic and the coup.

At the same time, the government is still refusing to allow asylum seekers to work and support themselves, instead forcing them onto benefits. Burma Campaign UK has seen first-hand how this has caused unnecessary stress and financial problems for refugees from Burma. 

“The Nationalities and Borders Bill is all about creating a hostile environment for refugees and trying to deter refugees rather than protect them,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “We are calling on MPs and Lords from all political parties to do everything they can to block the passage of this anti-refugee bill. The British government can’t credibly claim to be supporting the human rights of people in Burma whilst at the same time taking away their rights if they try to seek refuge in the UK.”

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