Written evidence from Refugee Council (NBB0045)
On 8 September, the JCHR heard oral evidence from people with lived experience of the UK’s asylum system. This submission is written to provide a further perspective from someone who has been waiting for several years for a decision on their asylum claim.
Florence, a woman currently in the UK’s asylum system
I first came to the UK in 2012 because my sister, who had been living here, was very ill with cancer, and I was her next of kin. She passed away six months but I carried on living in the UK undocumented. I had no knowledge of the asylum system.
In 2017, I became pregnant with my daughter, but I was later abandoned by my partner who disappeared, and who I’ve not seen since.
That year I claimed asylum, and I have now been waiting for years for a decision. I also have four children back home who I have not seen for many years.
Growing up, my stepfather would force me to have sex with strangers and he threatened to kill me if I said anything to my mother. Once I escaped from men who were going to rape me, and tried to report it to the police, but they refused to help me.
My current circumstances
I’m currently living in asylum accomodation provided by the Home Office with my daughter, but the financial support I get is not enough to support us both.
I’m living a limited life. The situation causes me a lot of stress and frustration. I’ve been waiting so long for a decision.
My daughter is growing up now, and needs more and more that I can’t provide. I have no one to help me, no family connections or anyone else.
It’s hard because other children have other things that we cannot afford, and I can’t take her places, or do activities.
I always feel sick, stressed, and don’t sleep well, thinking about when I will get a decision.
I also worry about my children back home, who may feel I have abandoned them. I have not been with them for so many years, and they are growing up and need things for school. When I think about them I just cry, there’s nothing I can do.
I want them to be reunited with their little sister. I want joy. I want happiness again, because something has been taken away from me.
My asylum case
No one has explained why it is taking so long – I have been waiting for four years. They said that some new cases had come in, which may cause delays.
Everything they say just feels like empty promises. I just want them to give me an answer.
The system needs to change so that cases don’t take so long. They need to think about us as humans, and how their actions are affecting people’s lives.
On the Nationality and Borders Bill and what Government should do
I’m not happy about the bill. They need to think about families, and how this will affect them.
People claiming asylum aren’t bad people, we have been forced to do it.
The Government should help to ensure asylum seekers are seen as human, and treated fairly. We need to be seen and heard. We need someone to speak for us.