On 29th October Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale asked the Government, “following the deaths of at least four people in the English Channel, what steps they are taking to protect asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking who are fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the UK.”. The Bishop of Bristol asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Bristol [V]: My Lords, as we have already heard, the death of anyone trying to reach the UK in search of safety is tragic, and the tragedy is multiplied when it is the death of a family. Save the Children is right to say that the English Channel must not become a graveyard for children. With that in mind, can the Minister update the House on the resumption of the refugee resettlement programme which was suspended in March?
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con): The right reverend Prelate is right that this is a particularly heart-wrenching case. As she says, the resettlement scheme was paused in March because of the Covid pandemic, but as per their statement in June, the International Organization for Migration and the UNHCR are beginning to resume some of their functions, although with limited capacity. The UK’s visa application centres are also beginning to resume some of their functions, again with limited capacity. The same applies for the Home Office teams who are processing applications. We hope to help people as swiftly as possible.