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Thousands of EU Citizens Face Possible Legal Limbo in UK As Settled Status Scheme Ends, Says Report

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The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. The EU settlement scheme was designed to offer EU, non-EU EEA, and Swiss citizens and their eligible family members, living in the UK, an opportunity before the end of the transition period to protect their ability to reside in the UK.

A new report has warned that hundreds of thousands of European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their children in the UK are in danger of finding themselves in a post-Brexit legal limbo on 1 July.

The academic campaign group UK in a Changing Europe highlights the fact that unless these citizens meet the government deadline and apply by 30 June for settled or pre-settled status, ahead of the curtailment of the EU Settled Status scheme, their work, rent and retirement rights are at risk.

“If applicants cannot demonstrate they have a ‘right to reside’, they will lose their rights immediately, even if their application is valid. This is likely to impact most severely upon vulnerable applicants with complicated cases. Given delays in processing applications this difference in treatment could become quite significant,” warns the report.

The EU Settled Status scheme grants European Union nationals (as well as those from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and some family members to apply for ‘settled status’ or, if they have less than five years residence, ‘pre-settled status’.

​Alarms have been sounded in “The EU Settlement Scheme” report that while some people have already applied, they are still awaiting a decision from the Home Office.

If they miss the deadline, they may be unable to prove their status when trying to access National Health Service (NHS) services, or travelling.

320,000 people, according to official statistics, are still awaiting a decision on their ‘status – settled status’.
The government has been trying to offer reassurances, saying that those on the waiting list do not need to worry. A “pragmatic and flexible approach” was vowed regarding late applications.

However, Catherine Barnard, deputy director of UK in a Changing Europe and a professor in EU law at Cambridge University, urges people to take stock of the legal implications.

“In order to apply for settled or pre-settled status all you needed to be was resident in the country before 31 December. But in order to be protected after 30 June, if you have not got the status, you have to be exercising EU treaty rights which means you have to be in work, self-employed, a student or a person of independent means,” she was quoted as saying.

Difficulties could be in store for children, the retired or spouses of an EU citizen who are from a non-EU country who have applied for but have not been granted status, underscored Barnard.
Furthermore, older adults who have resided in the country for decades and did not believe they needed to apply for citizenship could be at risk.

​An analysis by UK in a Changing Europe revealed that only 2% of the 5.4 million applications for status fall into the over-65 category. While hailing the success of the EU settled status, Barnard said:

“…It is about to enter a phase that will require sensitive management where the government will need to show pragmatism and flexibility in dealing with difficult cases.”

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 under a negotiated deal – the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement – that provided for an extension of all EU law until 31 December 2020.


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REUTERS / Toby Melville

Brexit Article 50 bill

On that date, EU free movement law in the UK ended, with the Withdrawal Agreement offering a ‘buffer’ to prevent EU, EEA or Swiss citizens finding themselves stripped of EU free movement law rights and without any other lawful residence status on 1 January 2021.

A grace period of 6 additional months was allowed for European citizens and their family members to protect their lawful UK residence status via the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

 



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EU urges Lebanon to form government ‘without delay’

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The EU called on Tuesday on Lebanon political leaders to form a government without delay, following the nomination of businessman Najib Mikati as prime minister. “It is now of crucial importance that a credible and accountable government is formed in Lebanon without delay, one that is able to address the severe economic and social crises the country is facing,” the EU said in a statement.

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Boeing With 165 People On Board Safely Lands in Simferopol After Reporting Engine Problems

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A Boeing aircraft with 165 people on board is preparing for an emergency landing at Simferopol airport due to technical problems with its engine, an emergency services spokesperson said.

“A Boeing is preparing for an emergency landing in Simferopol, on board of which, according to preliminary information, there are 165 passengers,” the spokesperson said.

The aircraft, which performs a flight from Yakutia to Crimea, had vibration in one of the engines, he added.

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‘Self-esteem was so low. Look at them now’ : the scheme getting Kenya’s girls back to school | Global education

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For much of her girlhood, Lucy Koriang* would spend her days taking the family’s goat herd out, walking for several kilometres a day, looking for the best grazing spots.

Being a goat herder was not a job she enjoyed or chose, especially in the unbearably high temperatures of Isiolo county, northern Kenya, where she lives. Her father, like most parents in Ngaremara village, saw little point in taking his children to school. Moving from the shelter of one thorny acacia tree to another, the 13-year-old would get lost in her thoughts, dreaming of a different life.

“Then one day they came and took me away from the field. It was a kidnap,” Lucy said. Four men, all in their mid-twenties, grabbed her and carried her off to become a wife to one of them. “The goats were over there,” she says, pointing to a spot in the distance. “They never asked me anything. I think I got pregnant that same day.”

In Ngaremara, similar stories of early marriages, unintended motherhood and perpetual poverty are commonplace. Stories of disillusioned and fearful girls denied their right to education and instead married off to men they never loved or even knew, men often two or three times their age.

These girls become part of the statistics – among the 260 million boys and girls who, according to British prime minister Boris Johnson “were being denied the schooling that should be their birthright” even before the Covid pandemic.

This week Johnson and Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, host the Global Education Summit, with the ambitious aim of facilitating a forum for leaders to pledge money that can be used to provide education in marginalised communities like Ngaremara. They hope to raise $5bn (£3.6bn) at a time when the UK is slashing its overseas aid budget and other nations face pressing needs on all sides.

Samuel Kiragu oversees standards at the education department in Isiolo county. He says there are probably 7,000 children in the county who have either dropped out of school or never started. Most are girls.

“It is about poverty and outdated cultural practices,” he says. “There are those who wish to be in class but lack access to education. In any case, we want to help the community understand that education is a basic right for the children.”

The girls in a catch up education centre in Isiolo, Kenya
Girls in a catchup education centre in Isiolo, Kenya. Most of the children who have dropped out of school or never started are girls. Photograph: Peter Muiruri

Government resources are tight, and the girls in Isiolo are among 5,000 out-of-school girls from marginalised communities and low-income households benefiting from the Education for Life initiative, which is supported by the UK.

It’s a relatively small, five-year project which runs until 2023 and targets girls aged between 10–19 years. About 70% never enrolled in school and 30% have had some formal education but dropped out.

In Isiolo, 1,034 girls, many of them mothers, are enrolled in 26 “catchup” centres, where they spend 6–9 months learning basic literacy skills. Similar programmes in Garissa, Kilifi, Migori and Kisumu counties are working with another 4,000 girls.

The literacy and life skills provided in these centres are intended to facilitate those aged 14 or under getting back into formal elementary schools, while those aged 15 years and above will be integrated into informal education or employment.

But breaking the deeply entrenched cultural barriers is no easy task for local organisations.

“We got men here asking, ‘why are you targeting the girls who are our source of wealth? Why invest in girls who will finally get married and leave home?’ Some would also hide children with disabilities,” says Patricia Makau, Education for Life coordinator at Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Kenya, one of the implementing partners.

“You get around this by organising community forums to get acceptance from the patriarchs. We have to be as gentle as possible so as not to upset the fragile social balance. Though most of the underage girls are married, empowering them means they can become assets to their families.”

Patricia Makau (centre) of VSO Kenya with 19-year-old Susan Kamiti and 17-year-old Lucy Koriang.
Patricia Makau (centre) of VSO Kenya with 19-year-old Susan Kamiti and 17-year-old Lucy Koriang. Photograph: Peter Muiruri

In one such centre at Atan village, Janet Ekura, the education facilitator, was jotting the day’s lesson on a whiteboard – the term “teacher” is avoided for its hierarchical tone. Since January 2021, Ekura has been taking care of about 30 girls between the ages of 14–19.

During a break in the lessons, the young mothers dash off to a nearby homestead to check on their children, who are left under the care of a group of elderly women.

Ekura says the girls were scared and shy when the centres opened. “You have 19-year-olds who could not even write their names, make a telephone call using a cell phone – since they could not tell one contact from another, or input phone security features. Self-esteem was at an all-time low. Look at them now, they are handling basic arithmetic and language lessons. They can now speak out. Education is about confidence.”

Seated in another corner is Agnes Epong, an administrator. She too had to overcome the community’s stereotypes about women to become one of the mentors. After the lesson, Epong sits down with a group of about 10 girls, mentoring them on life skills.

“You were married early. Some of you are mothers and you can’t change [that]. Losing hope will not take you anywhere. But education will,” she says. The girls listen intently to every word. Epong has got used to the threats from some fathers and other local men who felt that their “old-age insurance” was slipping away. “We still prefer dialogue over force,” she says.

Persuasion has won local hearts, including that of John Eshua, 70, a village elder whose son is married to one of the girls in the centre. In Ngaremara, Eshua goes by his slang name maneno mingi or “the talkative one” in Swahili. He is not afraid of speaking up for the girls. “We should stop substituting a girl with a cow. Why should 10-year-old girls have babies? I told my son to let the girl get some education first before other social engagements. The girls are the light of the community.”

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