Jayne Mercer, also vice chair of Hull City of Sanctuary, said a growing backlog of asylum applications has resulted in people staying in hotels for a year in some cases. She added that hotels like the one the Home Office intends to use in North Ferriby are often unable to adequately support asylum seekers and that charities need to fill the gap.
It comes as the East Riding Council has brought an injunction to the High Court against Home Office plans to house asylum seekers at the Humber View Hotel, near North Ferriby. The Council and Home Office both declined to comment further on the injunction or the High Court hearing scheduled for Monday 7 November.
A Home Office spokesman said the number of people arriving in the UK in need of accommodation has reached record levels, putting an incredible strain on the asylum system. They added that using hotels to house more than 37,000 asylum seekers at a cost of £5.6million a day was a short-term solution to a global migration crisis.
But South Hunsley Borough Councilors Julie Abraham and Margaret Corless both said the hotel on Ferriby High Road was too far from shops and other amenities. They added that locals felt they had not been consulted or adequately informed about the plans, which also saw reservations and events at the hotel suddenly cancelled.
Ms Mercer said multiple wars across the world at once meant more people than ever were fleeing their home countries to seek asylum elsewhere, including Britain.
The solicitor said: “The East Riding Council would have had no idea the Home Office was even considering a hotel because they had not consulted local authorities beforehand. Hull City Council was also not consulted on the Royal Hotel.
“There are issues with the locations of these hotels. At Thwaite Hall for example we had people there going from Cottingham to Hull to get the support needed which takes about an hour. It will fall to the Hull charities to support these people, so what will those staying at the Humber View Hotel do?
“With those staying in hotels only having £8 a week to live on, there is a knock-on effect for the charities that have to step in to support them. We are talking about people who often come with just a tote bag or their clothes and nothing else, many of them come from warm countries so they don’t have suitable clothes, their children don’t have toys so they have nothing to do.
“The hotel will feed them but they won’t be given a menu to choose from, a lot of the hotel will be food they’re not used to or maybe they don’t like. So the charities have to keep stretching their money because our funding doesn’t increase just because more people come into the area. The asylum seekers, who would host hotels like the one in North Ferriby, are awaiting a decision on their asylum application.
“That’s the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee, they haven’t been granted refugee status yet, so they’re put up in hotels like this while they wait. A backlog of asylum cases started in 2019, it started before the coronavirus, but the pandemic exacerbated it. Since then, other things like former Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision to get Ukrainians to apply for visas instead of allowing temporary entry like the EU did have widened that backlog.
“So we are in a situation now where we have Afghans who came to the UK after the Taliban took over the country last September and are still in hotels now. It is a person’s right to seek asylum under the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Britain was one of the first countries to sign that declaration and its Refugee Convention.
“The Convention recognizes that one must break the law while fleeing persecution. So if he applies for asylum, he has not broken the law. If you look at countries like Syria, they have had a civil war for more than 10 years, where men are conscripted into the army and often made to commit rights abusers, and there are difficult circumstances for women.
“There is a generation of children who grew up in refugee camps and have no education, and millions of Syrians in countries like Turkey where they cannot find work or settle properly. It is a broken country, like Afghanistan and Eritrea, where you were forcibly conscripted into military service, because people fleeing these countries can only cope for a short time.
“But imagine if you had to live under a canvas for up to 10 years, you felt like you had no choice but to seek asylum in a safe country. Many people from countries like Syria already have family in the UK so they see it as a safe place but they may have to rely on traffickers to get here.
“When the UN Refugee Convention was drafted in the 1950s, there was once a war and refugees from that war, but now we are in a situation where conflicts around the world are being provoked simultaneously, in part by climate change. Contrary to what people might think, most asylum seekers do not arrive in the UK on boats coming across the English Channel. Most already have visas and are applying for asylum while they are here, or they are flying in or coming via other routes.”