US and UK responses to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa

The US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has announced his decision to designate Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This is in consequence to the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. As a result, eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The designations mean that eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries) will not be removed from the United States and are authorised to work.

The UK Home Office have a different view. The Home Office does not consider it is appropriate to introduce a concession to grant leave because of the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. The Home Office goes on to state that an individual should not be granted asylum soley on the grounds that they fear returning to a place where Ebola is prevalent.

However, the Home Office accepts that the outbreak has had a significant impact on the healthcare systems in the countries affected - diverting resources away from the treatment of non-Ebola related diseases. Therefore, a claim that a person may face a breach of Article 3 of the ECHR on return to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, based on serious illness should be carefully considered.

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Syria Update

Our blog is back after a brief hiatus,* and we find ourselves returning to a new country guidance case on Syria. The new case (KB (Failed asylum seekers and forced returnees) Syria CG UKUT 00426 (IAC)) replaces previous guidance in SA & IA (Undocumented Kurds) Syria CG [2009] UKAIT 00006.

The Upper Tribunal decided that it is likely that a failed asylum seeker or forced returnee would, in general, on arrival face a real risk of arrest and detention. As a result of imputed political opinion there is a real risk of serious mistreatment during that detention. The Upper Tribunal said, ‘This decision is made in the context of the extremely high level of human rights abuses currently occurring in Syria, a regime which appears increasingly concerned to crush any sign of resistance.’


Those who have outstanding claims, or have none at all, are advised to make submissions to the UK Border Agency as a grant of refugee status will be appropriate while the Assad regime remains in power.

We'll be contacting our all clients shortly.

* Seraphus has been undergoing some changes, and we'll report back to you on those changes as soon as we can.

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UNHCR recommends suspension of forced returns to Mali

The UNHCR set out its new position regarding returns to Mali.

The UNHCR recommends the suspension of forced returns of nationals and habitual residents of Mali until the security and human rights situation has stabilised to the extent that it is safe to resume returns. The security in Mali deteriorated since the coup on 22 March 2012. This led to large scale displacements into neighbouring countries.

The position paper can be found here.

The UKBA and Country Reports

The UKBA is responsible for considering asylum applications. In order to do so effectively they must fully take into account relevant information from the applicant's application and evidence, and then review it in conjunction with available country of origin information, as well as other relevant factors.

The UKBA’s department called the Country of Origin Information Service (COIS) collates and summarises information on countries giving rise to asylum claims in the UK. It was the use of those reports that the Independent Chief Inspector investigated between October 2010 and May 2010. The ICI concluded:

  • The UKBA needs to adopt a consistent approach to the use of COIS reports;
  • 17% of decisions demonstrated a selective use of COI reports or contained assertions which the full range of country information did not support;
  • the information in the COI reports was sometimes used selectively or otherwise inappropriately in decision making;
  • COI was also included selectively in statements of policy with the risk that case owners could make decisions without taking into account all available evidence;
  • there was no consistent coordination of the various COI documents produced by the Agency; and
  • in the absence of a COI report, case owners operated very different approaches to researching COI and there was no mechanism to pool obtained knowledge.

The ICI said that the reports play a vital part in ensuring that decision makers are equipped with the most up-to-date and accurate information about conditions in other countries, but improvements needed to be made, and we wholeheartedly agree.

The full report can be found here.

Libyans in the UK

The UKBA published guidance for Libyans who wish to extend their leave outside of the normal Immigration Rules. They say that:

‘Where an individual is unable to meet some requirements of the Rules or provide some of the required evidence they should state why this is not possible, explaining any exceptional circumstances. We will consider applications on a case-by-case basis and we may use our discretion when reviewing cases.

Any Libyan national, with continuing lawful leave or previous lawful leave that has expired since 22 February 2011, who does not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules but are unable to return to Libya may now be allowed to temporarily extend their stay in the UK.’

Applications can be made on the FLR(O) form. Where you cannot meet the fee you will need to complete an additional questionnaire which can be found here. Discretion may be applied in exceptional circumstances to grant a further period of leave for up to 6 months outside the Rules.

It is currently unclear how these applications will be considered given recent events in Libya, however, until this guidance is revised it may still be worth making the applications.

Libyans in the UK

The UKBA accepts that Libyans in the UK may be unable to return due to the current situation in Libya. The UKBA asks that you keep proof of original travel plans as evidence of your intention to comply with your original visa requirements. They ask that you monitor the situation, and make arrangements to return as soon as it is safe to do so.

The UKBA does not, however, confirm how any future immigration applications will be considered if you are forced to overstay your leave. It is likely ... Read More...


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Failed States Index 2010

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UN mounts airlift for Kyrgyzstan refugees

More than a quarter of a million people have fled ethnic fighting in southern Kyrgyzstan, the UN refugee agency says.

UNHCR calls for broad protection of Somalis

UNHCR’s latest guidelines call for a broad application of refugee protection to Somali asylum-seekers.... Read More...

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