Written evidence by Peter (NBB0029)
I am an asylum seeker, currently housed by the Home Office in a hotel in London.
On 8 September 2021, I was invited to give oral evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for their inquiry on the Nationality and Border Bill. Due to time constraints, there was not time to answer all the committee's questions, so I am submitting evidence to answer their questions in writing.
The current system
Q4. Could you tell us about your experience of the UK's asylum system?
a. Do you think it requires change? If so, how?
After our arrival to the UK, they arrested us and sent us to a detention center. We could feel that the system is not friendly towards us. We always felt as prisoners and this continued for days. After arriving to the emergency accomodation on we had no cloth to wear. we had no money to buy even a simcard. Aspen cards got issued after more than 4 months and before that there was never any kind of support. many people got sick because of the food. children never ate anything other than bread and butter and jam. As a volunteer i started searching around for food banks and tried to help them as much as I could do. Many people didn't have any cloth, so again we searched around and found homeless shelters and was able to find some cloth to keep us dry and warm.
The companies who are responsible for managing asylum seekers in the accommodation, and are in contact with us everyday and monitor our health, are Clearsprings group, S.B.H.L. and ReadyHomes(www.Ready-Homes.com). These companies and their staff does not care about human rights and asylum seekers. They are never sympathetic towards us. They are often under a lot of pressure by their own managers and head office, so they are afraid to speak up about the problems and they never try to fix anything so they can keep their position and job. The only reason they are here is to make money and they are afraid to lose their job. Most of their staff are students who are coming from India and most of them do not care at all and used to demoralize us and cause a lot of stress and issues. They would lie to us, forcefully enter our rooms and abused us in many different. After having problems with them, many asylum seekers asked Police for help and called the Migrant help line but in the end no one could help and no one could hear our voices. We felt completely alone, hopeless and on our own.
Migrant help line is one of the organization that does more damage to us than doing good. Home Office made them responsible for dealing with almost all types of issues an asylum seeker may face during their stay in the emergency accommodation. But instead of helping us, all they do is keep us on hold when we call, sometimes for hours. They never give any straight answers when we ask about our process, claiming that they cant give us details because we are frm third world countries. As a asylum seeker there is no way we can directly contact the Home Office so all we can do is talk to migrant help line.
The Whole process of asylum claim is very hostile. It is not based on human rights, empathy, or saving humans and lives. the government wants asylum seekers to stop asking for help and asylum in the UK. Because they dont care about us, they are doing this with putting us under too much pressure, with keeping asylum seekers in military camps and hotels, with not permitting them to have jobs to make money to pay for their expenses, with keeping them in dark and limbo for long periods of time, which often leads to the loss of hope for the future and in the end, suicide. In return, government will have to spend millions of tax payers money for their treatment and support and at the same time, they blame asylum seekers simply because we exist. Many asylum seekers like me, can contribute to the society in many ways, but are forced to receive money from government and be useless. As an asylum seeker, I am not even allowed to use study loans which are issued by the government. We dont want to be a burden but we are forced to be. The only thing we seek as human beings, is freedom and we still do not have it.
Views on the Bill
Q5. Were you aware before you arrived what the legal rules on claiming asylum in the UK were?
I never planned on seeking asylum in any country. All I planned was to save my life. this asylum claim process and this system was completely unknown to me. Unfortunately, after reading the new Government Bill, I understood that the Home Office is trying to get rid of asylum seekers, and stop them from asking for help. They do not care about the reason why we are here.
The Bill will fail to end the dangerous journeys migrants are forced to take by smugglers and it will increase the suffering and delays migrants facing upon arriving here.
I believe refugee protection should always be granted solely on need. But the attempt to divide refugees based on their mode of arrival, sounds completely unjustified and cruel. This Bill will introduce far greater delays on asylum claims, and when refugees granted only a temporary status, it will take a long time for them to recover from the trauma.
a. If the Government's Bill had been in place before you arrived, what difference do you think it would have made to you?
If the Bill had been in place, the government would have recognized me as a criminal. They could decide to lock me up in a prison cell instead of finding and arresting the smugglers who are making a fortune with smuggling people like me and putting our lives at risk for profit
The end of written witness statement
I'm truly honored for having the chance to speak with respected members of the parliament and the Joint Committee on human rights. I hope that I have written and explained everything clearly.
PETER (Pezhman Farhangi)