EarthRights is in conversation with Alphonsine Kabagabo, Director of Women for Refugee Women, about the difficulties in seeking asylum and being a refugee.
We are focusing on women and other systemically disadvantaged groups, such as children and LGBTQ+ groups. This is so important as we must give a voice to the most vulnerable.
We discuss why people flee their homes. Women may flee, not only from persecution but from gender based violence in private and public domains. Women are also being forced to flee increasingly from environmental devastation destroying homes, food and water supplies, and causing economic breakdown. Sometimes these situations mean women are forced into arranged marriages, are trafficked for sex, or put in other extremely vulnerable situations.
The connection between the climate crisis and the way this leads to the disproportionate abuse of human rights could not be more prevalent among refugees and asylum seekers.
Alphonsine reflects on her personal journey as a woman fleeing the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi nearly 28 years ago, with her two babies. She tells us her experience "was not very bad compared to others" and she got out within a week and passed safety to Belgium. The safety and support she received has made her dedicated and determined to offer the same support to other refugees and asylum seekers where she lives now, in the UK.
We also look at the UK Nationality and Borders Bill and the way that it will unfairly impact women and marginalised groups. In particular, women fleeing gender based violence will have to provide proof of their experiences on arrival to the UK before having a chance to receive support for their trauma. Furthermore, people will be required to prove a safe passage to the UK organised by a government - many do not have this option, meaning they would be prevented from seeking asylum. There are many other concerns over this bill discussed in this Women for Refugee Women article.