Amnesty slams Priti Patel's leadership as 'disaster' over UK asylum backlog

Amnesty slams Priti Patel's leadership as 'disaster' over UK asylum backlog
Amnesty International said there are now 85,917 outstanding asylum claims, saying this constitutes a fourfold increase over British Home Secretary Priti Patel's time in office.
2 min read
26 August, 2022
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was criticised by Amnesty International on Thursday [Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty-archive]

Amnesty International slammed British Home Secretary Priti Patel's leadership as a "disaster" on Thursday after government statistics showed the scale of the UK's asylum backlog.

The Home Office immigration figures, issued on Thursday, reveal a "staggering increase" in asylum claims waiting over six months to be decided, Amnesty said.

There are now 85,917 outstanding claims, which the rights group said constitutes a fourfold increase over Patel's time in office.

"The statistics released once again expose Priti Patel's leadership to be a disaster," said Amnesty UK refugee and migrant rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds.

"Her political posturing and cruel policies against people seeking asylum [have] simply broken the asylum system."

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Valdez-Symonds was referring to a quarterly update on immigration statistics from the Home Office which apply to the year ending June 2022.

Amnesty said this contains "no firm update on Afghan refugees", adding that it "casts continued doubt over commitment to support those fleeing persecution from the Taliban".

Valdez-Symonds said the rise in asylum claims waiting for a decision for over six months has been "created by the Home Secretary's reckless refusal to process thousands of claims and failure to efficiently decide thousands more".

He said this has an "astounding" cost, including refugees being "abandoned in unsuitable accommodation".

He also highlighted the perilous journeys many refugees make to reach the UK and the profits of the criminal gangs who facilitate this.

Valdez-Symonds urged the UK government to improve the accessibility and efficiency of the British asylum system.

He said it must cut delays, ensure quality decision-making and provide safe alternatives to dangerous crossings across the Channel from France.

This is so "people receive the protection to which they are entitled​ as quickly as possible", Valdez-Symonds added.

Amnesty's press release also highlighted the government's controversial deal with Rwanda allowing it to send refugees to the African country.

No one has yet been deported under the agreement after legal challenges halted the first flight in June.

The New Arab has contacted the UK's Home Office for comment.