The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan means thousands of people fleeing danger will look to seek asylum in the UK. Refugee charities warn they, and the thousands like them who already arrived from around the world in the hope of escaping persecution, can often face an uphill battle to build stable lives in a new country.
There were more than 132,000 refugees living in the UK by the end of 2020, according to the UN Refugee Agency, plus more than 77,000 people waiting for decisions to be made on their applications for asylum.
The UK received the fifth largest number of applications (more than 36,000) in the year ending March 2021. But the number given refugee status is much smaller, and when measured per head of population the UK ranked only 17th in terms of the proportion of asylum seekers looking to find safety.
Having fled danger and persecution, asylum seekers in the UK are met by the so-called hostile environment, which includes the no recourse to public funds policy. This locks them out of nearly all state support and benefits, while denying them the right to work until the Home Office grants them leave to remain in the country, at which point they are officially recognised as refugees.
Experts warn the upcoming Nationality and Borders Bill will make it even more perilous for people to seek asylum in the UK, as the legislation is set to criminalise those who arrive across the channel by dinghy and those who help people travel to the country for what the government deems illegal reasons.
They may have left behind the danger which initially put them at risk, but life in the UK isn’t easy for refugees and asylum seekers. Here are some refugee charities doing invaluable work to support the people who often find they face more persecution once arriving on British shores.