'It's not illegal to claim asylum': Former refugee speaks to LBC

25 November 2021, 16:28 | Updated: 29 November 2021, 13:49

By Seán Hickey

This former refugee tells Shelagh Fogarty that the UK needs to give asylum seekers 'due process' following the tragic death of dozens of migrants in the Channel.

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Gulwali Passarlay fled Afghanistan and travelled across Europe in the hands of people smugglers. He came to the UK in 2007, gained refugee status after five years and became a British citizen after thirteen.

Read more: 27 migrants die in Channel crossing after 'floating death trap' dinghy deflates

Mr Passarlay is an author and his book The Lightless Sky accounts his perilous journey aged 12 from Afghanistan.

"The focus on deterring, the focus on not allowing people to come with this anti-refugee bill criminalising refugees, penalising them and dehumanising them hasn't worked" he told Shelagh Fogarty.

Read more: RNLI receive outpouring of support for migrant rescue efforts after latest Channel tragedy

"We should give them due process, they have to be treated fairly, not with the two-tier system: the deserving and the undeserving, sadly people have died because of our policies."

Read more: Living in Syria 'scarier' than risking life in Channel: LBC speaks to migrants in Calais

Mr Passarlay lived in Kent after arriving in Britain in the back of a lorry. He explained to Shelagh that the only reason he persisted to come to the UK was because his brother lived in Manchester.

"I would have certainly stayed in Italy if it wasn't for my brother."

Read more: Fishermen blocked RNLI boat rescuing migrants, caller tells James O'Brien

"We need to look at more than just the UK don't we?" Shelagh asked, noting that systems in Europe are constantly becoming overwhelmed by the demand put on by the number of people arriving and seeking asylum.

"One in nine people are not in Europe." The former refugee explained.

"Not everyone is coming to Europe...we need to take our fair share. This is a global crisis."

Read more: 'Not just a British problem': UK ready to send ground support to France, minister says

Mr Passarlay added that while the current situation is tragic, the UK's actual processing of asylum seekers has drastically fallen overtime: "When I first came to this country, Britain used to have 60 to 80 thousand asylum applications a year. Now we're down to 30,000."

He went on later to claim that the pressure on French authorities is intense barring out the camps in Calais. "We can't expect them to take all the refugees" he insisted.

Mr Passarlay said that his processing once he eventually arrived in the UK was extremely difficult: "My age was not believed, my nationality was disputed...it was a long process."

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