Gateway Protection Programme

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The Gateway Protection Programme is a scheme operated by the UK Border Agency in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), offering a legal route for a quota of UNHCR-identified refugees to settle in the United Kingdom. The programme was established in March 2004 with a quota of 500 refugees per year, later increased to 750, but the actual number of refugees resettled in each year has been fewer than the quota permitted. Liberian, Congolese, Sudanese, Burmese, Ethiopian, Mauritanian and Iraqi refugees have been resettled under the programme. The programme enjoys cross-party political support in the British parliament. Evaluations of the programme have praised it as having a positive impact on the reception from local communities received by refugees, but have also noted the difficulties those refugees have faced in securing employment.

Programme details[edit]

The programme is the UK's "quota refugee" resettlement scheme.[1] Refugees designated as particularly vulnerable by the UNHCR are assessed for eligibility under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees by the Home Office. if they meet the eligibility criteria they are then brought to the UK and granted indefinite leave to remain.[1][2][3] The International Organization for Migration helps facilitate pre-departure medical screening, counselling, dossier preparation, transport and immediate arrival assistance.[4] Once in the UK, refugees are entered into a 12-month support programme which aims to aid their integration.[1] The programme involves local authorities and NGOs[1] including the British Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, Migrant Helpline, Refugee Action, the Refugee Arrivals Project, the Refugee Council, Scottish Refugee Council and Refugee Support.[5][6] These organisations have formed the Resettlement Inter-Agency Partnership in order to pool their resources.[5]

The programme is distinct from and in addition to ordinary provisions for claiming asylum in the United Kingdom.[7]


A man and four children stand in front of a wooden hut and behind a wire fence.
Burmese refugees in a camp in Thailand

The Gateway Protection Programme is not the first British refugee resettlement programme. Other, informal, resettlement programmes include the Mandate Refugee Scheme, and the UK also participates in the Ten or More Plan.[5] Refugees must have close ties to the UK to qualify for the former, which is for so-called "mandate" refugees who are granted refugee status by UNHCR.[8] The Ten or More Plan, established by UNHCR in 1973 and administered in the UK by the British Red Cross,[9][10] is for refugees requiring medical attention not available in their current location.[11] During the 1990s, 2,620 refugees were settled in the UK through these two programmes.[12] In 2003, the UK's Ten or More Plan had a resettlement goal of 10 people and the Mandate Refugee Scheme 300.[13] Refugees have also been resettled through specific programmes following emergencies.[14] For example, 42,000 Ugandan Asians expelled from Uganda during 1972–74, 22,500 Vietnamese during 1979–92, over 2,500 Bosnians in the 1990s, and over 4,000 Kosovars in 1999.[5]

A new resettlement programme was proposed by the then British Home Secretary, David Blunkett in October 2001,[11] having been hinted at by the previous Home Secretary, Jack Straw, in his 'Lisbon Speech' to the European Conference on Asylum in June 2000.[8][15] The legal basis for the programme's funding was established by Section 59 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002,[1][11] which was passed by the House of Commons by 362 votes to 74 in June 2002[16] and by the House of Lords, at the ninth attempt (following concern about the introduction of measures allowing for the detention of asylum seekers in rural areas), in November 2002.[17][18]

The Gateway Protection Programme was subsequently established in March 2004.[19] Initially, the programme quota was set at 500 per year.[1] The British government has faced criticism from academics and practitioners over the small number of refugees it has resettled in comparison with other developed states.[20] For example, in 2001 the countries with the largest quota schemes were the United States (80,000 refugees), Canada (11,000) and Australia (10,000).[5][11] Initially, David Blunkett had intended to raise the quota to 1,000 in the second year of the programme's operation, but local councils' reluctance to participate in the scheme meant that it was slow to take off.[21][22][23] It has been argued that their reluctance showed that hostile attitudes towards asylum seekers had carried over to affect the most genuinely needy refugees.[21] The quota remained at 500 per year until the 2008/09 financial year, when it was increased to 750 refugees per year.[1] The number of refugees resettled under the scheme is small in comparison to the number of asylum seekers offered protection in the UK. For example, in 2009, 24,285 initial decisions on asylum claims were made by the Home Office, of which 4,190 (17 per cent) determined the applicant to be a refugee and granted them asylum, 95 (fewer than 1 per cent) granted humanitarian protection, 2,460 (10 per cent) granted discretionary leave and the remaining 17,545 applications (72 per cent) were refused.[24] Worldwide, there were 42 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2008, 15.2 million of whom were refugees.[25] Nonetheless, existence of the programme has maintained cross-party support in Parliament since its inception.[26]

Refugees resettled under the programme[edit]

Year Quota Refugees resettled[24]
2004 500 150
2005 500 70
2006 500 355
2007 500 465
2008 750 640
2009 750 855 (provisional)

The number of refugees resettled under the programme has been consistently under the quota.[24][27] Refugees resettled have included Liberians from Guinea and Sierra Leone, Congolese from Uganda and Zambia, Sudanese from Uganda, Burmese from Thailand, Ethiopians from Kenya, and Mauritanians from Senegal.[28] Provision was made for 1,000 Iraqi refugees to be resettled in the UK between 1 April 2008 and the end of March 2010. In 2008, 236 Iraqis were resettled and as of 18 May, a further 212 had been resettled in 2009.[29] However, in May 2009 the programme was shut down for those Iraqis resettling due to having worked in support of British occupying forces and therefore at risk for reprisals.[30] This decision was criticised as premature and "mean-spirited" by some members of Parliament.[30]

On 17 July 2009, three Congolese men resettled in Norwich under the programme were killed in a car crash on the A1 road.[31]

Resettlement locations[edit]

As of March 2009, out of the 434 local authorities in the UK,[32] 15 were participating in the programme.[33] The first refugees resettled under the programme were housed in Sheffield,[21] which was the first city to join the scheme.[34] Others have been housed in cities and towns including Hull, Norwich, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Motherwell, Brighton and Hove, and the Manchester area including Tameside.[1][19][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42]

In 2007, North Lanarkshire Council won the "Creating Integrated Communities" category in the UK Housing Awards for its involvement in the Gateway Protection Programme.[43][44] In April 2007, Bolton Museum held an exhibition of photos of Sudanese refugees resettled in the town under the programme.[45] A film, titled Moving to Mars has been made about two ethnic Karen families resettled from Burma to Sheffield under the Gateway Protection Programme.[46][47] The film opened the Sheffield International Documentary Festival in November 2009 and was aired on the television channel More4 on 2 February 2010.[46][48][49]

Programme evaluation[edit]

Resettlement has been presented as a means of the UK fulfilling its obligations towards displaced people in the context of hostile public attitudes towards asylum seekers.[20] Research has shown that members of the British public are generally well disposed to providing protection to genuine refugees, but are sceptical about the validity of asylum seekers' claims.[50] A report published in 2005 states that "some participating agencies have been reluctant to pursue a proactive media strategy due to local political considerations and issues relating to the dispersal of asylum seekers".[8] However, in February 2006, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department Andy Burnham, when asked about how the programme fitted in with community cohesion strategies, stated in the House of Commons that:

"The early evidence from areas in which authorities have participated in the programme shows that it has been successful in challenging some of the attacks on the notion of political asylum that we have heard in recent years. In Bolton and Sheffield in particular, the towns have rallied around the individuals who have come to them. The programme has been a positive experience for the receiving community and, of course, for the vulnerable individuals who have benefited from the protection that those towns have offered".[51]

A report into the experience of refugees resettled in Brighton and Hove under the scheme between October 2006 and October 2007 was published by the Sussex Centre for Migration Research at the University of Sussex in December 2007. The report found that the refugees had struggled to gain employment and English language skills.[52]

In February 2009, the Home Office published a report evaluating the effectiveness of the Gateway Protection Programme. The research it was based upon focused on refugees' integration into British society in the 18 months following their resettlement.[1] The research found that refugees showed signs of integration, including the formation of social bonds through community groups and places of worship. The report noted that low employment rates and slow progress with acquiring English language skills were particular concerns. Younger refugees and children had made the most progress.[1]

The Home Office released a promotional video in October 2009 that highlighted the success of the programme in resettling 15 Congolese families into Norwich in 2006.[26] That city has had a record of success with the programme, with new families being supported by ones previously resettled there.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Evans, Olga; Murray, Rosemary (February 2009). "The Gateway Protection Programme: An evaluation". Home Office Research Report 12. 
  2. ^ "Gateway Protection Programme: Good Practice Guide". Refugee Council and Refugee Action. 2008. p. 8. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  3. ^ "Leave to remain". UK Border Agency. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  4. ^ "United Kingdom". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Resettling to the UK: The Gateway Protection Programme". Refugee Council Briefing. Refugee Council. October 2004. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  6. ^ Rutter, Jill; with Cooley, Laurence; Reynolds, Sile; and Sheldon, Ruth (October 2007). From Refugee to Citizen: 'Standing On My Own Two Feet' – A Research Report on Integration, 'Britishness' and Citizenship. London: Refugee Support. p. 24. 
  7. ^ "Gateway Protection Programme". UK Border Agency. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c Wright IV, George J.; Peach, Esme; Ward, Kim (June 2005). "Resettlement Programmes and the UK". Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees. Retrieved 22 August 2009.  [dead link]
  9. ^ van Selm, Joanne (2003). "Public-private partnerships in refugee resettlement: Europe and the US". Journal of International Migration and Integration 4 (2): 157–175. doi:10.1007/s12134-003-1031-1. ISSN 1488-3473. 
  10. ^ Van Bueren, Geraldine (1998). The International Law on the Rights of the Child. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 363. ISBN 90-411-1091-7. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Understanding Resettlement to the UK: A Guide to the Gateway Protection Programme". Refugee Council on behalf of the Resettlement Inter-Agency Partnership. June 2004. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  12. ^ "Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill 2002". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 15 October 2002. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  13. ^ van Selm, Joanne (6 February 2003). "Lessons on resettlement from the US and Canada". Listening to the evidence: The future of UK resettlement. Victoria Park Plaza, London. p. 35. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  14. ^ Robinson, Vaughan (6 February 2003). "An evidence base for future policy: Reviewing UK resettlement policy". Listening to the evidence: The future of UK resettlement. Victoria Park Plaza, London. pp. 3–18. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  15. ^ Straw, Jack (15–16 June 2000). "Minister Jack Straw". Towards a Common European Asylum System: European Conference on Asylum. Lisbon. pp. 133–139. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "Yesterday in parliament". The Guardian. 13 June 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  17. ^ "Yesterday in parliament". The Guardian. 8 November 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  18. ^ "The House of Lords is perfectly right to attack Mr Blunkett's foolish law". The Independent. 10 October 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Hynes, Patricia; Yin Mon Thu (2008). "To Sheffield with love". Forced Migration Review 30: 49–51. 
  20. ^ a b Cooley, Laurence; Rutter, Jill (2007). "Turned away? Towards better protection for refugees fleeing violent conflict". Public Policy Research 14 (3): 176–180. doi:10.1111/j.1744-540X.2007.00485.x. 
  21. ^ a b c Travis, Alan (4 October 2004). "Blunkett refugee plan misfires". The Guardian. p. 6. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  22. ^ Travis, Alan (17 May 2005). "Burmese reach UK in refugee scheme". The Guardian. p. 9. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  23. ^ Taylor, Amy (19 January 2006). "Few councils take up UN scheme". Community Care. p. 8. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  24. ^ a b c "Control of immigration: Statistics United Kingdom 2009". Home Office Statistical Bulletin. 15/10: 15, 30. August 2010. ISSN 1358-510X.  Data rounded to nearest 5 people.
  25. ^ "2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 16 June 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  26. ^ a b c "Norwich refugees star in YouTube film". The Advertiser (Norwich). 14 October 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  27. ^ Sulaiman, Tosin (20 June 2006). "Seeking refuge for war victims". The Times (London). p. 5 (Public Agenda supplement). Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  28. ^ Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2008). Human Rights Annual Report 2007. Norwich: The Stationery Office. p. 95. ISBN 0-10-173402-6. 
  29. ^ "2 June 2009". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (House of Commons). col. 358W. .
  30. ^ a b "Iraq aides plan 'echoes Gurkha row'". The Guardian. Press Association. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  31. ^ Gray, Tracey (28 July 2009). "Norwich men killed in A1 tragedy". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  32. ^ Gray, Louise (18 September 2009). "Council areas fail to cut carbon footprint". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  33. ^ Moving On Together: Government's Recommitment to Supporting Refugees. London: UK Border Agency. March 2009. ISBN 978-1-84726-865-5. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  34. ^ Darling, Jonathan (2010). "A city of sanctuary: the relational re-imagining of Sheffield's asylum politics". Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 35 (1): 125–140. doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2009.00371.x. 
  35. ^ Wood, Alexandra (27 March 2006). "Refugees find haven from terror". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 10 August 2009. 
  36. ^ Osuh, Chris (17 January 2006). "Peter Lemi dreams of the day when he and his family no longer live in fear". Manchester Evening News. p. 29. 
  37. ^ Seith, Emma (3 October 2008). "Refugees now talking with Scottish accents". The Times Educational Supplement. p. 4. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  38. ^ "'New life' for Congolese family". BBC News. 7 February 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  39. ^ Money, Rachele (14 January 2009). "Congolese welcomed with taste of Africa...and Tunnock's teacakes". Sunday Herald. p. 25. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  40. ^ "Refugees and asylum seekers in Brighton & Hove". Brighton & Hove City Council. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  41. ^ "Ethiopians Lap Up Lakeland Visit". North-West Evening Mail. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  42. ^ Lashley, Brian (24 December 2008). "Refugee's Christmas reunion". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  43. ^ "North Lanarkshire Council: Gateway Protection Programme". UK Housing Awards. 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  44. ^ "High praise for refugee housing programme". Evening Times. 27 November 2007. p. 22. 
  45. ^ "Museum photo exhibition tells the powerful stories of refugees in Bolton". Refugee Action. 7 April 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2009. 
  46. ^ a b Ayech, Sara (4 November 2009). "'Moving to Mars': World premiere of film on refugee resettlement scheme". Refugee Action blog (Refugee Action). Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  47. ^ "Burma's Karen refugees struggle in UK". BBC News. 11 January 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  48. ^ "Moving to Mars". Channel 4. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  49. ^ Wollaston, Sam (3 February 2010). "Moving to Mars". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  50. ^ Lewis, Miranda (2005). Asylum: Understanding Public Attitudes. London: Institute for Public Policy Research. ISBN 1-86030-273-4. 
  51. ^ "13 February 2006". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (House of Commons). col. 1136. 
  52. ^ Collyer, Michael; de Guerre, Katie (December 2007). "'On that day I am born...': The experience of refugees resettled to Brighton and Hove under the Gateway Protection Programme October 2006 to October 2007". Sussex Centre for Migration Research, University of Sussex. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 

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