Freedom from Torture welcomes All Party Parliamentary Group report on refugee integration
Freedom from Torture and Survivors Speak OUT welcome the critical but constructive report on the integration of new refugees in the UK.
The report presents a picture of government inertia within a policy and funding vacuum and makes strong recommendations to ensure that all refugees are able to successfully rebuild their lives and that communities are able to thrive.
Freedom from Torture and Survivors Speak OUT, a UK network of torture survivors, made a joint submission to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees enquiry into the integration of new refugees. The submission focused on two areas of concern – the problems faced by torture survivors when transitioning from asylum status to mainstream support; and the hostile environment created by inaccurate and negative portrayal of refugees by some politicians and media.
Sile Reynolds, Lead Asylum Policy Advisor at Freedom from Torture, says:
The absence of political leadership and a national refugee integration policy, combined with an inefficient and uncoordinated transition process means that very often newly granted refugees find themselves homeless and destitute. Too many torture survivors are unable to rebuild their lives once status is granted due to the hardship and isolation of life on the edge of society. We welcome these recommendations, particularly those calling for a longer transition period for those in receipt of asylum support, and the more efficient delivery of mainstream benefits and help into work.
The APPG rightly draws attention to the barriers that new refugees experience when seeking healthcare, including specialist treatment for survivors of torture. A widespread confusion about which foreign nationals are entitled to which healthcare services, and a failure to commission appropriate services, means that too many refugees are being denied the care they so desperately need.
Kolbassia Haoussou, Co-ordinator of Survivors Speak OUT, who gave oral evidence to the enquiry, says:
A barrier to better integration is the way some sections of the media and some politicians depict male refugees as security threats, people traffickers and sexual predators, rather than victims of persecution seeking refuge. This toxic discourse means that seeking refuge has the further burden of stigma and shame.
For example, recent calls within Parliament for male refugees to be educated on how to treat women, have fuelled inflammatory rhetoric about male refugees. Perpetuating such negative and inaccurate stereotypes is dangerous for refugees and for the wider community.
Notes to editors
Since 1985 Freedom from Torture has been the only national human rights organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation and support of torture survivors seeking refuge in the UK. It does this primarily through offering psychological therapies and forensic documentation of torture as well as offering practical and welfare support.
For further information or to interview Sile Reynolds or Kolbassia Haoussou, please contact Kaye Stearman on 0207 697 7837 or 07912 579 190 or firstname.lastname@example.org