April 1, 2020

Empower survivors to be independent

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By Miriam Karmaili From Freedom United

Instead of focusing on their recovery, the current UK system means after leaving situations of modern slavery, some victims go on to be exploited again. This is because their only option is to seek asylum in the UK, which prevents them from working and moving forward with their lives. Join us in calling for survivors to be granted the right to work and live in dignity.

The UK government can take years to process an initial decision on an asylum claim during which time, individuals are banned from working and forced to rely on government support of just £5.39 ($7) per day to survive. This meager support causing prolonged poverty and instability leaves people seeking asylum vulnerable to exploitation.
 
For victims of trafficking who are seeking asylum on the basis that it is not safe to return to their country of origin, the inability to work and no legal means to adequate financial support can seriously impact their chances of recovery and can even lead to being retrafficked.

But the UK can help break this cycle. Urge the UK government to allow survivors the right to work whilst their asylum claim is processed.

After a person has waited a year for the outcome of their asylum claim, they are allowed to apply for the right to work, but even in these cases, they are restricted to the Government’s Shortage Occupation List. This is a narrow list of highly-skilled professional jobs, including ‘classical ballet dancer’ and ‘nuclear medicine practitioner’ – jobs that many people are unlikely to qualify for, rendering it almost impossible to find work.
 

Today, only one third of asylum claims in the UK receive an initial decision within one year.[1] Survivors face waiting years for an outcome on their claim and with only £37.75 ($49) per week to live on, this can push people to seek illegitimate employment as a means of survival.
 
Traffickers use this vulnerability and fear of being reported to authorities to trap people in exploitative work conditions and forms the basis on which they are able to exploit workers in forced labor through withholding wages, abuse, threats and restricting a persons’ movement. Few cases are ever reported to the police because of fear of deportation.
 
Help empower survivors by demanding their right to become independent.
 
Pascual worked in poultry processing in the UK and described his experience of having his wages withheld:
“We keep quiet, we didn’t say anything, they told us the first week the system in Britain no pay. So we will pay you the following week and we accepted … every day we keep doing the same job and it’s not easy job because this is a killing, killing the body. Plenty, plenty chickens imagine per minute you have to pack it very quick otherwise them, they come and shout at you as well if you not doing very well.”[2]
You, our community, told us that you strongly support granting people seeking asylum the right to work, with 89% of survey responders[3] agreeing with introducing a law to lift the ban after a person has waited six months for an initial decision.

Now, we can join together to urge the UK to align itself with international standards and grant survivors the right to work and an opportunity to recover. Add your voice today.

In solidarity,

Miriam and the Freedom United team
 Miriam Karmali
Advocacy, Freedom United
[1] https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/insights/migration-statistics-how-many-asylum-seekers-and-refugees-are-there-in-the-uk/
[2] http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/75949/1/Precarious_Lives_Main_Report_2-7-13.pdf
[3] https://www.freedomunited.org/speak-free/global-supporter-survey/

TO VIEW VIDEO, SUBSCRIBE AND DONATE GO TO: https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/lift-the-ban/?trk_msg=R9KAQ9MSNCTK5EROS25G981S2C&trk_contact=037FSGUJ91I19DOFIHRSCHO86K&trk_sid=K9CF9BFPINRI3EUUUT4G4P8IJO&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=email&utm_term=SIGN+NOW&utm_campaign=FU-EN-24JAN2020-LIFT-THE-BAN-LAUNCH-active-non-openers&utm_content=FU-EN-24JAN2020-LIFT-THE-BAN-LAUNCH-active-non-openers

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