"Giving people "incentives" does not make them safe. We know that in some countries, failed asylum seekers are put in prison on return and can only secure their release if they pay a bribe. We could now be exposing them to the possibility of further extortion if there is a perception that they have money".
Kath Sainsbury, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns
From NCADC news service:
54,000 asylum claimants/failed asylum seekers received a letter on January 1st 2006 offering them £3,000 a piece to leave the UK.
The offer to all those claiming asylum before 31st December 2005 will last for 6 months and is conditional that they withdraw their asylum claims or if they have appealed against refusal, withdraw the appeal.
The Home Office says the money - "increased reintegration assistance" - is to help them resettle in their country of origin and have even coined a word for the exercise - "Incentivising" - though cynics may have a different interpretation and see "Incentivising" as a "cheap bribe".
NCADC feel this offer is misguided and dangerous. Asylum seekers from such places as DR Congo, Somalia, Uganda etc. living in hardship and destitution in the UK at the moment may see this "incentive" as an immediate way out of their suffering.
Kath Sainsbury of NCADCs North East and Scotland office said:
"The people who have already received the letters and contacted NCADC are worried that they are being forced to return. When the scheme is explained to them, they have said that they cannot return because their lives are at risk.
"If people genuinely wish to return to a country that has stabilized and holds no danger, then providing they are not coerced into returning, it is entirely appropriate that we should help them to rebuild their lives, but I have serious concerns about this scheme. The term 'voluntary' becomes meaningless if people are returning to danger."
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The IOM opened their new Glasgow office at the Centrum Building, 38 Queen Street, this week. This follows an advertising campaign for their "voluntary" returns programme on buses serving areas where asylum seekers are housed, and comes at a time when increasing numbers of asylum seekers in the city are being refused and evicted from their homes into utter destitution.
No Borders Glasgow would advise anyone considering taking up this offer to think twice about contacting the IOM. Unless you are absolutely sure you want to withdraw your asylum application and any hope of staying in the UK, it may be very risky to identify yourself as someone who is prepared to return home. Should you change your mind after being interviewed, it may be held against you in an asylum appeal. If you have already been refused asylum and enquire about voluntary return, you may be targeted for forced
removal if you change your mind.
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Whats wrong the IOM?
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is a multi-national
inter-governmental organisation, founded in 1951. It’s aim is to aid nation states in the management and exploitation of global migration. Their basic policy is not concerned with the well being of people but the well being of economies.
The IOM arranges the “voluntary” return of people to warzones, dictatorships and areas of famine. The opening of their Glasgow office and the "incentivising" scam coincides with a push by the city council to evict hundreds of people refused asylum from their homes prior to the handover of asylum accommodation to private companies in February. The stark choice they are faced with is: take your chances on the winter streets of Glasgow, or gamble on a dubious bribe from the IOM to return home.
In recent years the IOM has moved from managing the movement of economic migrants to assisting states to control forced migration, that is, keeping out or sending back people seeking political asylum, fleeing wars, persecution, famine.
Unlike the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the IOM has no humanitarian remit, and it's move into controlling the movement of people seeking asylum has raised alarm amongst human rights, refugee and aid agencies. The UNHCR has criticised the return of people to war-torn countries such as Iraq and Somalia, but the IOM is only too willing ignore
humanitarian concerns and do the dirty deeds of governments eager to appear tough on immigrants.
Amnesty International has criticised the role of the IOM as an "alternative agency for states where they prefer to avoid their human rights obligations", and in May 2003 they released a joint statement with Human Rights Watch, reported in Statewatch Bulletin: www.statewatch.org
"Given that IOM does not have a protection mandate for its work with refugees and displaced persons, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch recommend that IOM should refrain from taking a lead role in situations which fall squarely under the protection mandate of other international organizations, such as UNHCR".
For more info on the IOM, references for above reports, and information on global migration control and resistance, see:
Human rights watchdogs condemn IOM
For the text of a leaflet about the campaign against the IOM, see:
Make Borders History
No Borders Glasgow