Cayman has just 20 asylum seekers ahead of Refugee Day

| 18/06/2018 | 4 Comments

(CNS): As many developing countries around the world are dealing with unimaginable numbers of refugees and asylum seekers landing on their shores on a daily basis, Cayman has just 20 people waiting for a decision on their asylum application. But as the US government faces intense criticism for separating children from their parents in an attempt to deter illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican border and UK comes under fire for its hostile environment towards immigrants, and after the Italian government refused to allow a migrant ship to dock at any of its ports last week, the theme for World Refugee Day this year is the shared responsibility the world has for families fleeing war or persecution.

There are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world and 86% of them are hosted by poor and developing nations. But it is the world’s largest economies that are making the headlines for the political troubles that refugees and migrants are stirring up and their refusals to take their fair share.

To demonstrate the uneven burden that is shouldered by developing countries, the world’s largest refugee camp, which is home to over 329,000 people is in Dadaab in Kenya. Meanwhile, Turkey currently hosts the highest number of refugees, with over 2.7 million, and Lebanon a close second with more than 1.5 million, largely as a result of the war in Syria.

The number of refugees in the Cayman Islands is tiny and most asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants are Cubans, who land in Cayman are on their way to Honduras due to problems with vessels or poor weather. Unless they apply for asylum, the government regards these Cubans as economic migrants, who are deported back to Havana, facilitated by a memorandum of understanding signed with the Cuban authorities.

The numbers of Cuban migrants landing in Cayman has declined in recent months. However, the Human Rights Commission, noting that there are currently less than 20 migrants on island awaiting outcomes of asylum applications, or otherwise awaiting further processing by the Department of Immigration, said that in recent times the Cayman Islands has housed over a hundred migrants at one time.

The HRC said that it has taken an active interest in the handling of migrants and asylum applicants over the years. This includes a report in 2013 and an ongoing series of correspondence with public officials from 2011 to 2017. As a result of the close attention the HRC has brought to light a number of problems in the local system, some of which have been addressed.

The HRC has highlighted the need for an updated MOU to protect legitimate asylum claimants’ rights, improved management of interception procedures of migrants at sea by the marine unit, balancing the need to provide humane assistance for migrants with risk management of human trafficking and illegal migration under the law, improving overall policies and procedures for handling asylum applicants and the compliance of these policies with the Bill of Rights, and improvements to facilities for housing migrants and relevant safety protocols.

“Whilst improvements in some very significant areas have been made by the government, the Commission continues to urge public authorities to work alongside non-governmental organisations such as the Red Cross, churches, pro bono legal services, etc., to continue to improve the treatment of refugees as a vulnerable population,” the HRC said in a statement marking the UN World Refugee Day on Wednesday.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS…..cut the guilt trip. Merkel in Germany is about to get dumped for keeping open borders. We don’t need any refugees and we don’t need our share. Forget it. Send back the Cubans now. Cayman needs our funds for our citizens.

  2. Anon says:

    Since when has the UK had a ‘hostile environment towards immigrants’? Are you joking? The UK has more than can fit tgese days, and all getting every benefit available; more so than the citizens!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that CNS is failing to distinguish between legal and illegal migrants. The UK had around 245,000 legal immigrants last year (both EU and non-EU), down from c. 600,000 in 2016. There is no issue with this group and no “hostile environment”. They have done things the right way, they have the paperwork, they have skills that are needed within the UK, they are both welcome and net contributors to the UK economy.
      There are also an estimated 100,000 – 250,000 “illegal” immigrants each year – these are the ones who the “hostile environment” was designed for (the majority entered legally, often as students, and have simply overstayed their visa. The vast majority in this category later leave the UK voluntarily. The most that is likely to happen to them is that they will get a letter reminding them that they have overstayed and should make arrangements to leave.). The real target are those that enter illegally with the intention of remaining in the UK – of these, around 40-45,000 are deported each year.
      The “hostile environment” as it has been dubbed, involves proving to an employer that you are entitled to work in the UK, or that you are entitled to claim social security benefits, open a bank account etc. etc.(UK Citizens have to do the same). It’s a big change from the laissez-fair approach of the past, but little different from what a lot of countries (including Cayman) do.

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