MPs last night voted for profound harm to the health and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary

Published 23rd March 2022

Doctors of the World are deeply disappointed that MPs have voted to reject all of the House Of Lords amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill, which would have significantly improved this hostile and dangerous piece of legislation. MPs have voted to reintroduce two key parts of the Bill which will cause lasting and profound harm to the health and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary in the UK – a deeply unfair two-tiered refugee system, which will penalise many people in need of protection, and offshore asylum processing sites.

Plans to introduce a new two-tiered refugee system will trap many refugees in a cycle of temporary status making it harder for them to rebuild their lived in the UK. In our clinic we see how insecure immigration status leads to poor access to medical services and worse outcomes for people.  

The Bill’s proposal for asylum seekers and refugees to be detained offshore indefinitely whilst their asylum claims are processed is deeply alarming from a health perspective. The Australian Government has a similar policy which has resulted in severe and well documented harm to people’s physical and mental health whilst concealing their suffering from public scrutiny. This must not be replicated by the UK.

Recent events in the Ukraine and Afghanistan have shown why we need a well-functioning and fair asylum system that prioritise health and wellbeing of people seeking protection. Today MPs have voted in support of a Bill will achieve the opposite, make it harder for people to get refugee protection and to access medical care. As a humanitarian medical organisation, Doctors of the World has consistently highlighted the harmful impact that hostile immigration policies have on the health and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary and migrants living in the UK, drawing on decades of experience providing medical care to refugees in areas afflicted by conflicts (including Ukraine and Afghanistan) and running clinics  for people struggling to access NHS care.

With the British Medical Association and royal medical colleges, we have raised concerns about the serious mental and physical health impacts of the Bill and called on the UK Government to re-think its plans to reform the asylum system and prioritise the health and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

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