UN refugee agency voices ‘deep concern’ at planned UK asylum reforms

THE United Nations refugee agency has blasted the government’s planned asylum reforms as representing an “almost neocolonial approach” to “shift burden” rather than “share responsibilities” on providing support to refugees.

Gillian Triggs, assistant high commissioner for protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a Chatham House briefing today of the organisation’s “deep concern” at some of the proposals.

Sweeping reforms of Britain’s asylum system were introduced to Parliament earlier this week under the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.

Dubbed the anti-refugee Bill by campaigners critical of the plans, the proposals could see Border Force officers empowered to turn back migrants at sea.

The legislation also contains provisions to set up offshore processing centres where asylum-seekers could be held while their claims are considered.

Ms Triggs said that the UNHCR was “absolutely dismayed that some of our strongest supporters historically are now playing with this idea of externalising their responsibilities.

“What we are finding is that Western, developed and wealthy countries are now not sharing responsibilities but shifting burdens to these poor countries.”

The Home Office claims that the changes will “prioritise those most in need of protection while stopping the abuse of the system.”

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