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From: The Socialist issue 325, 29 November 2003: Fight The Profiteers

Search site for keywords: Asylum - Children - Asylum-seekers - US - Benefits - David Blunkett

Blunkett's Sick Plans For Asylum Seekers

HOME SECRETARY David Blunkett is planning to begin forced repatriation of refugees to northern Iraq, which he says is 'generally overwhelmingly safe'.

Naomi Byron

He seems to be the only person that thinks so - even the US is only supporting voluntary returns of refugees. With good reason: Mosul, one of the main cities in northern Iraq, has seen increasing unrest and attacks on US forces.

Some of the heaviest casualties among US soldiers during the whole conflict, including the 17 killed when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed into each other, have happened over the last few weeks in Mosul.

Iraqis were one of the largest single groups of people to claim asylum in the UK last year. Blunkett's new scheme sounds suspiciously like an easy way to get the figures of asylum-seekers in Britain down. Surely this has nothing to do with the approach of the date by which Blair pledged to halve the number of asylum applications in the UK?

Another sick measure that the government is also planning to use to drive down the number of asylum-seekers is to threaten to take asylum-seekers' children into care in Britain, in order to force their parents to accept 'voluntary' deportation back to their home countries.

Asylum-seekers with children in the UK who have had their asylum claims rejected will be faced with an impossible choice. Should they have all their benefits removed and risk their children going into care, or immediately accept a 'voluntary' flight back to their country of origin?

Up to now only asylum-seekers without children have had their benefits removed if their asylum claim is rejected, as the government has a legal duty to protect children's welfare and cannot leave them without any means of support.

Blunkett and the government obviously hope that offering the option of care will satisfy their legal duties, while giving them a powerful way to emotionally blackmail asylum-seekers into returning to their home countries before it is safe.

So much for the rights of refugee children, who will face being returned to the dangers they originally fled from or being split up from their parents and put into the under-funded care system. At the moment around 2,000 children in the UK could be affected by this.

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