London, UK, September 26, 2023 — Laura Kyrke-Smith, Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee UK, says,
“The Refugee Convention has withstood the test of time and remains the right international legal framework for the UK’s refugee and asylum policy. It is a good thing that it extends protection to people on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. It is important to be clear that it does not mandate people to seek asylum in the first safe country that they arrive in.
The Home Secretary has rightly reiterated that people at real risk of death, torture, oppression or violence are in need of protection. To this end, she should focus her department's efforts on processing asylum claims quickly and fairly, and establishing safe alternative routes to claim asylum. There are pragmatic, humane and orderly ways to stop the small boats crossing the Channel, without taking aim at the Refugee Convention.
Last year, half of the people arriving on small boats were from just five crisis-affected countries: Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Eritrea and Iran. Three quarters were found by this Government to be in genuine need of protection. And the British public understand this: IRC/ YouGov polling shows that two-thirds of British adults believe that the right to seek asylum should be upheld.”