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Asylum Seekers

Volume 708: debated on Monday 23 February 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in respect of which countries, or regions of countries, they do not carry out forced removals of refused asylum seekers, because of conflict or violence which makes it unsafe for them to be returned at the current time. [HL1363]

We do not accept that there is currently any country in the world where it is unsafe for returns to take place on a blanket basis because of conflict or generalised violence. Instead, all cases are considered on their individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Those identified by the decision-making process and the independent appeals process not to be in need of international protection are expected to leave the UK voluntarily. Failed asylum seekers can and do voluntarily return to all countries of the world. Those who do not leave voluntarily may have their return enforced.

We announced in September 2006 that we would be halting enforced returns to Zimbabwe and we are not currently enforcing the return of Zimbabwean nationals.

The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal recently found that there is no barrier to us re-starting enforced returns for failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. Since 2006 hundreds of Zimbabweans have voluntarily returned home. Those found not to be in need of protection and who have not left the UK voluntarily can expect to be returned.

Enforced returns of non-Arab Darfuris to Khartoum are currently suspended pending the outcome of an upcoming country guidance case expected to be heard in the summer.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost of running the voucher scheme including (a) the administrative cost of appraising entitlement to Section 4 support; (b) the administrative cost of running an appeals system for those refused support under Section 4; and (c) the cost of printing, distributing and facilitating the use of vouchers around the country. [HL1366]

The way that data on the costs of providing Section 4 support are recorded does not enable the separate collation of the administrative costs of appraising entitlement to Section 4 support, as distinct from other costs such as consultancy, travel, office services and training.

Responsibility for running and funding the Asylum Support Tribunal which hears appeals by those refused asylum support or for whom asylum support is discontinued rests with the Ministry of Justice, not the Home Office. Appeals may relate to support under Sections 4 or 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

The costs of printing Section 4 vouchers and administering and distributing those vouchers is included within the unit costs paid to accommodation providers under the UK Border Agency's target contracts. It is not an additional cost.