2020 plans and activities

Detention of asylum-seekers

One of the most common ways in which governments discourage people fleeing from wars from entering their countries is to detain those who do. The conditions on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Moria camp and on the island of Samos are a stain on the reputation of the whole European Union (EU). In early September 2019, a group of migrants detained in Malta protested their conditions by holding up a banner shouting “Where is Humanity?” Here in the UK, people seeking asylum may also be detained, locked up against their will for months on end.

On Tuesday 25 February 2020 from 6.30 pm, UAI in the UK will host an event on detention under the banner “Where is Humanity?”, put together by Committee members Helia Lopez Zarzosa and Mona Mahmood. Please save the date for this event and find out more here.

Education in Emergencies

One of the most devastating consequences of war for affected communities is the loss of educational opportunities for their children. While this problem is widely recognised, each of several major international organisations has developed its own programme to tackle it. Do any of them produce results? Why aren’t they working together?

UAI in the UK has agreed a partnership with the London Business School (LBS), in which a team of LBS MBA students will work under the supervision of UAI in the UK Vice-Chair, Saba Al Mubaslat and her colleague, Sarah Beeching from the Oshun Partnership, from February to May 2020, to look at the numbers behind these programmes and to suggest innovative ways in which children uprooted by conflict may nevertheless be enabled to continue their education..

Asylum Criminalisation

Increasingly in Europe, the actions of NGOs and individuals who rescue, assist and advocate on behalf of survivors have been publicly attacked and declared illegal.  In this context, UAI published a report by Sarah Hammerl, entitled  ‘Asylum Criminalisation in Europe and Its Humanitarian Implications’. In 2019 UAI groups in Berlin, London and Rome also organised a series of events addressing the criminalisation of asylum seekers and those assisting them in Europe. Together with practitioners, activists and academics, UAI held a first online session on ‘Decriminalising Asylum’, exchanging views on the topic and discussing possible ways and means to counter these developments.

In 2020, UAI will seek opportunities for collaboration and to establish a network of people across Europe, including academics, practitioners and members of civil society organisations and diaspora groups concerned with asylum criminalisation. A major event on this topic is planned for London in June 2020. Full details to follow.

UAI in the UK is represented on this group by Committee member Sara Palacios Arapiles.

Inhumanity Index

A priority for UAI internationally is to establish the Independent Humanitarian Watch (IHW). More information.

Linked to the IHW is the concept of an Inhumanity Index, ranking governments according to their observance of international norms and laws relating to the conduct of war and the treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum. UAI in the UK’s Vice-Chair, Mark Bowden, is leading an effort to explore the criteria that might be adopted in an Inhumanity Index.

Destitution among successful applicants for asylum in the UK

Committee members Kama Petruczenko, Lul Seyoum, Sara Palacios Arapiles and Randolph Kent are developing activities by UAI in the UK to highlight the suffering caused by an ineffective support provisions that affect people at the moment when they are granted asylum in the UK. The gap in support can leave them homeless and destitute at the point where they should be starting the process of building themselves a new life here.

The effort to have this unjust situation changed will be carried out in collaboration with other groups supporting the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK, with an event to be announced soon.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

UAI in the UK has joined an informal working group hosted by Crisis Action to advise the British government on the revision of its national Protection of Civilians Strategy. We have stressed the importance of ensuring that the UK integrates its national efforts into an effective multilateral response in each situation where peacekeeping and peacebuilding take place.

UAI in the UK Chair, Martin Barber, and Vice-Chair, Mark Bowden, are representing UAI in the UK on this initiative.

Atrocity Prevention

UAI in the UK has decided to join the Atrocity Prevention Working Group hosted by Protection Approaches. Martin and Mark are also following this initiative for  UAI in the UK.

Promoting UAI to a wider audience

Committee member Michael Mosselmans facilitated an opportunity for Martin to meet with a dozen leaders of local humanitarian organisations from countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East at meetings in Copenhagen on 11 and 12 December. Several of these leaders expressed keen interest in joining the UAI movement.

On the same visit to Copenhagen, Martin also met with a group of Danish humanitarians and human rights activists who expressed strong support for the UAI initiative. The group will meet again on 6 February to take the initiative forward.

In October 2019, Martin represented UAI at the World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF) in Istanbul. He spoke on a plenary panel at the opening session. He and Michael also spoke at a roundtable on ‘localisation’. UAI also had a table in a World Café event during the Forum.

Collaboration with Initiatives of Change (IoC)

Since its preparatory meetings in the first three months of 2019, UAI in the UK has developed a close collaborative relationship with Initiatives of Change, with each side taking part in events organised by the other. UAI in the UK Vice-Chair, Dr Lul Seyoum, and Committee member, Amina Khalid, have developed and facilitated this partnership for UAI in the UK.


UAI in the UK encourages support for the funding of UAI’s general programme of work, adopted by the International Executive Committee (IEC). Committee member Michael Mosselmans has facilitated the approval of grants for UAI’s work by Christian Aid and the Ludovica Foundation.


UAI in the UK has been set up as an unregistered Association under a Constitution adopted at the inaugural General Meeting on 12 June 2019. Application forms for membership of the Association may be requested from .

In order to facilitate the management of income and expenditure and the opening of a bank account, Chair, Martin Barber, Vice-Chair, Lul Seyoum, and Treasurer, Gill Grunwald, have formed a company limited by guarantee called “UAI in the UK Ltd” to provide financial and administrative services to the Association.

Negotiations to open a bank account have proved more time-consuming than foreseen. As soon as the account is operational, members will be informed.

Share this article