What it Takes to be an Asylum-Seeker

The term “refugee” often generates a lot of negative stereotypes and has been harnessed as a dehumanising label, both publicly and politically. 

It is often forgotten that a person who claims asylum is first and foremost a fellow human being, and someone who is inherently deserving of the same respect you or I would expect to be treated with.

Instead, people seeking refuge in the UK are all-to-often treated as though they are in some way trying to ‘cheat the system’, as someone who would ultimately be an unproductive and undeserving member of the UK’s society. 

It is often forgotten that a person who claims asylum is first and foremost a fellow human being…

It is important to remember that anyone who claims asylum is doing so because the life that they were living is no longer liveable. In some cases — as in the cases of young children who have been raised in atrocious living conditions — their life has always been unlivable, at least to the best of their memory. 

Unfortunately, there are numerous ways in which someone can be persecuted and numerous reasons for which a person can claim asylum. This includes, but is not limited to, persecution based on religious belief, race, sexuality, political belief, or gender.

But one universal truth remains: no one grows up thinking “one day I want to claim asylum”.

…anyone who claims asylum is doing so because the life that they were living is no longer liveable.

The decision and process of fleeing your home country to seek refuge in another is both difficult and dangerous.

Before any asylum seeker arrives in the UK, they must undergo serious hardship and suffering during their journey to the UK. The nature of asylum (you cannot claim it from outside of the UK) means that most people need to travel in the back of lorries, on foot, or by boat. Their journeys last weeks, not days, and are subject to conditions that the vast majority of people will never have to experience.

No one grows up thinking “one day I want to claim asylum”.

Before you attribute any negative character traits to someone who claims asylum, maybe ask yourself, would I be willing to travel in the back of a lorry for 12 days, day and night, with limited food and water, just to make it the UK? Every asylum seeker who makes it to the UK has sacrificed more to be here than most people will ever be required to sacrifice.

Once in the UK, asylum seekers want to earn their keep. They want to work, earn a living, and be productive members of society. They want to show their gratitude to the nation that has taken them in, through their actions in the society that they now belong to. They are often more motivated to be productive members of society, than someone who has grown up here their whole life, as they feel they owe this nation a debt.

Written by
Jon Oborn
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