Cambridge University Student Action for Refugees

Still Human Still Here Campaign

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The campaign is supported by a number of organisations including national STAR, Amnesty International, Refugee Council and others. For a full list, and to learn more about the national campaign, please go to

STILL HUMAN - The right to seek asylum is fundamental to any attempt to protect human rights globally. Asylum seekers are not illegal, and the UK is under international legal obligation not to penalize them. Amnesty Interational and other groups have documented the results of the
government's new policy towards refused asylum seekers. There are between 155,000 and 283,500 rejected asylum seekers still in the UK (2004 estimate, National Audit Office), and possibly many more, who are forced to beg for even their most basic needs, and often victims of mental and physical health problems without treatment or assistance.

STILL HERE - The government withdrew support in an attempt to force rejected asylum seekers to leave the country, but the policy has been proved ineffective as well as inhumane. The initial refugee determination procedure in the UK is deeply flawed, with a Home Office culture that has been criticized for seeking to lower the number of successful asylum claims at the expense of informed and impartial judgment on the merits of each case. Moreover, legal aid cuts mean that many asylum applicants receive inadequate advice and representation, or none at all, as well as having their claims compromised by errors in procedure and judgement by the responsible authorities. The result is that some asylum seekers whose claims are rejected are forced to choose between destitution in the UK or return to life-threatening conditions in countries like Iraq, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

STILL HUMAN STILL HERE - Where individuals do not have protection needs, we believe that their return should be safe, sustainable and carried out with dignity. It is morally acceptable for governments to control their borders. It is morally acceptable for governments to return refused asylum seekers when they do not have protection needs. It is, however, morally reprehensible for governments to make refused asylum seekers destitute in order to starve them as the cheapest method of attempting to hit the Prime Minister's Tipping Point target.

WHY THEY CAN'T RETURN - There are many reasons why the return of rejected asylum seekers may be impeded. For example:

• In most cases people fleeing persecution cannot safely obtain travel documents or valid visas from the authorities that are persecuting them. They resort to the services of smugglers and traffickers and are often instructed to return or destroy the travel documents. Many countries of origin do not cooperate with the re-documentation and readmission of their nationals.

• A country may not be safe for people to be returned there. The circumstances may be life-threatening, even though asylum seekers from that country are not granted protection.
Until recently the government more readily granted a temporary form of protection – called ‘Exceptional Leave to Remain’ – to asylum seekers from unstable countries. In 2002 ELR was applied to one in four initial asylum determinations. This was replaced in 2003 and by 2005 only one in ten received this type of protection. Many of those who would once have qualified for protection today find themselves refused and destitute.

• It may be difficult to transport people to a place where an airport is not operational.

• Individuals may not be well enough to travel or may be unable to access adequate health care on return.

• It may not be possible to trace the parents of unaccompanied children.

(Source: Down and out in London: the road to destitution for rejected asylum seekers Amnesty International, November 2006)

The latest on the campaign from National STAR, including a range of recent newspaper articles on the topic, can be found here.



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Page last updated 20 September 2007
Any comments or suggestions about this site? Please e-mail Anna (ag490)