The Hidden Battle Facing Refugees in Europe

by | 12.02.2016
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We usually take the opportunity in our blog to talk to you about different ways you can improve the performance of your business, improve your productivity and enjoy work.

 

This lives right at the heart of what we do but we know that life is much more than just business. We also believe in helping and providing for others when we can. That’s why this week’s article is going to look at a subject that is now at the forefront of European politics. 

 

refugees_in_Sweden.jpgThe civil war in Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis of our generation

Since the conflict began, half of the country’s population, have lost their lives or been forced to flee their homes. The latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimate that more than 11 million people have been affected.

The vast majority of people fleeing the conflict have sought refuge in the Syria’s neighbouring countries, especially Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. An increasing number of these refugees are now turning to Europe for help, seeking safety as they make the journey from Turkey, through Greece and across Europe.

More than a million people crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as countries struggle to cope with the influx and creating division in countries on what action should be taken to resettle people. 

 

Sweden received more than 160,000 asylum applications last year

Sweden received more than 160,000 asylum applications last year – by far the biggest influx in the EU as a proportion of the population. Between 60,000 and 80,000 of them will be rejected, the interior minister, Anders Ygeman, told Swedish media at the start of January. This marks a sharp turnaround from previous year’s and has put a huge burden of pressure on getting the process for seeking asylum right.

According to UNHCR: “National asylum systems are there to decide which asylum-seekers actually qualify for international protection. Those judged through proper procedures not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their home countries.

 

“The efficiency of the asylum system is key. If the asylum system is both fast and fair, then people who know they are not refugees have little incentive to make a claim in the first place, thereby benefitting both the host country and the refugees for whom the system is intended.”

 

The process is fraught with complications, takes time and there is never a guarantee it will be successful. Many charities are helping provide refugees with the fundamentals they need to survive after braving the journey from Syria including food, water and shelter.

Once these basic needs are bet, the next biggest need the refugees have is the need for legal aid and advice. Without the right help and advice, their chances of being granted permanent asylum are significantly reduced. 

 

Free legal advice to refugees

In Stockholm, a group of lawyers have been working together in order to provide free advice to refugees who have often risked everything for the chance of a better life and to help them through the complicated process of seeking asylum. They’ve faced a number of challenges including organising the logistics of who would be providing the legal aid, where they would be doing it and when they would be doing.

With many lawyers wanting to help, coordinating their response and making sure they were in the right place at the right time was proving increasingly difficult for them to organise and taking up an unnecessary amount of time each week.

We have been able to help the group of lawyers solve this problem by giving them access to Quinyx so then can schedule their ‘shifts’ and see which volunteers are available to provide legal help. In doing this, we’ve been able to make their response much more effective. 

The message from the Swedish government to refugees is clear; if you don’t have a strong case for asylum, then you won’t be able to stay. This is in stark contrast to previous rules where Syrians used to receive an automatic right to permanent residency. That’s why getting the right legal advice, help and assistance with applying for asylum is more important for refugees than it ever has been before.

 

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper in the UK, Sanna Vestin, chair of FARR, the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, said: “We are very concerned that in this situation the government will play down proper procedure and rights just to get rid of them. We have already had a suggestion to end the right to appeal – the courts uphold the appeals in around 10% of cases.

 

“It would be better if the government saw refugees as an investment in society’s future, rather than a burden. We have a very good economy, in part because of having many immigrants.”

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Tommy Tonkins

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