The state we’re in

The finished report

It’s over a decade since I left the Refugee Council, where my final job was as editor of iNexile, the organisation’s monthly magazine. While I was there, I was also in charge of producing their publications, writing, creating, proofreading and editing research reports, information leaflets and fundraising materials.

Although I’ve not been working in the ‘sector’, I’ve retained my interest in refugee issues and was delighted to proofread the latest report from Asylum Aid and UNHCR (which weighed in at over 180 pages). Working to a tight deadline, and not helped by an apparent incompatibility issue between my version of Word 08 and Lion OS (repeated crashes, repeated expletives, repeated cups of coffee), I managed to get the final version back to Asylum Aid in time.

Statelessness affects millions of people across the world: they have no ‘official’ state, no papers, are not recognised as belonging to any country. For those in the UK in this position, it can mean a life in perpetual limbo. One of the interviewees, a Belarussian, tells how his life “started in the Russian Gulag, and now I am stuck in this gulag. Give me a travel document and I will leave immediately. If I am undesirable here, then okay, but please allow me to go out”.

It’s one of a number of shocking stories that can be found in the final report.