23 May 2022 5.00-6.30 pm. Register on EventBrite to receive a Zoom link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ssahe-webinar-afghan-refugees-hostile-environment-or-warm-welcome-tickets-331384569167
This webinar explores the ‘hostile environment’ for refugees in the UK as it plays out in the most apparently benign of government initiatives: those providing resettlement for at-risk and vulnerable people, often with links to the UK. In this session, we explore the nature and possible causes of this implicit policy ‘hostility’ coexisting with recent and ongoing Afghan resettlement schemes, and its relation to prior Syrian and later Ukrainian schemes.
UK government policy characteristically and increasingly divides people arriving in the UK into deserving ‘migrants’ with economic and/or skills value; undeserving, criminalised ‘economic migrants’, overwhelmingly claiming asylum and receiving refugee status but arriving by routes not sanctioned by government or international NGOs; and ‘vulnerable’ and ‘at-risk’ people deemed ‘refugees’, predominantly resettled via specific schemes or the more general UK Resettlement Scheme. Yet this apparently politically privileged latter group, even in the high-profile instance of Afghans evacuated from Kabul in August 2021 or applying for resettlement subsequently, seems to be living though many of the repeated inadequacies of capacity, comprehensiveness and timeliness that systematically inflect the experiences of other refugees reaching or trying to reach the UK, and that continue to constitute an institutionalised ‘hostile environment’ for all.
Reza Hussaini is a PhD candidate at City, University of London. His original PhD thesis was an attempt to use Participatory Action Research with the residents of IDP camps in Afghanistan Interrupted by his evacuation, he has now turned to working with recent evacuees to the UK, combining PAR and autoethnography. He was research manager at the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University and collaborated with Dr Schuster on an examination of representations of migration in Afghan Oral Culture, a study of the Hopes, Plans and Fears of Afghan Families, and an exploration of the influence of the EU on the development of Afghan Migration Policy.
Gulwali Passarlay is a speaker, prominent activist for refugee rights, and former refugee from Afghanistan who came to Britain in 2004, aged 12. After his degree at Manchester University and his Masters, he has continued his campaigning work, most recently against the Nationality and Borders Bill. He is the author of The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee Boy’s Journey of Escape to a New Life in Britain, which is now sold to fundraise for Afghanistan.
Dr Neelam Raina is an Associate Professor of Development and Design at Middlesex University London. She leads a project on ‘Culture and Conflict’ within the GCRF Gender, Justice, Security Hub. This project operates in Afghanistan, and Raina has been instrumental in evacuating Afghan partners from the country in 2021 after the fall of Kabul. She has been a strong advocate of refugee rights, and has presented oral evidence to the Defence Select Committee about the British withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. Raina’s research influences decisions about refugee protection, and she has raised funds through philanthropic donors to assist with passports, visas, temporary shelter, transport to neighbouring countries, food drops, and evacuation and resettlement of her Afghan research colleagues. She has done several interviews about Afghanistan in the British press, and has co-authored a piece in the Telegraph about the virtue signalling that comprises operation Warm Welcome, as well as a blog on failing and forgetting Afghanistan.
Eleonore Kofman, Middlesex University London
Corinne Squire, Bristol University