Immigration Victory

People with leprosy no longer automatically refused entry to the UK

People with leprosy will no longer automatically be refused entry to the UK following The Leprosy Mission’s advocacy work with the Home Office. Guidance previously issued by the UK Border Agency to medical referees* considering applications for entry into the UK previously recommended that people affected by leprosy are refused entry.

In support of the UN principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against people affected by leprosy, The Leprosy Mission England & Wales campaigned for the reference to leprosy to be removed from the guidance. The international development charity’s campaign encouraged supporters to write to Immigration Minister Damian Green or their own MP highlighting the fact that as leprosy is now easily treated by multidrug therapy (antibiotics), it poses no threat to public health.

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said while it can refuse entry on health grounds, the previous published visa application guidance “could be open to misinterpretation” in relation to people with leprosy.

He said: “We have amended the guidance to make it clear that having leprosy is not grounds alone for visa refusal.”

The UK Border Agency says individuals with leprosy will instead be signposted to treatment which may delay their visa application for a few days while they commence medication, as opposed to being automatically refused permission to travel altogether.

The spokesman said: “We thank The Leprosy Mission for informing us of this discrepancy. The UK Border Agency continually reviews its guidance and will take appropriate action when alerted by others to inaccuracies.”

Siân Arulanantham, Head of Programmes Co-ordination at The Leprosy Mission England & Wales, said: “We are delighted the Home Office has changed the medical guidance in relation to leprosy.

“People with leprosy are among the most stigmatised in the world and the previous guidance only served to reinforce prejudices. We appreciate the commitment of our supporters in taking the time to write to the Minister for Immigration and their MPs standing up for the rights of people affected by leprosy, and wish to convey our thanks to the UK Government for taking steps to ensure people affected by leprosy will not be discriminated against.

“This will strengthen our advocacy case when challenging other governments to change discriminatory legislation.”

* UK Border Agency, Medical Issues Guidelines, MED6 What are the objectives and criteria for the medical recommendation?

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Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1: 17b NLT

A respected wife,daughter-in-law and member of her community; Rekah had no idea how leprosy could change everything

Leprosy is a cruel disease; it robs people of their health and they are frequently denied the most basic entitlements. Often, they don’t even have a voice in their local communities. At The Leprosy Mission, we don’t think that’s acceptable, so a large part of our work focuses on justice and dignity.
 
Rekah was rejected and stigmatised because of leprosy. She told her story to Neelmani, Naini hospital’s counsellor.

‘My village is more than 100km from here, so my brother brought me. Before visiting here he took me to a private doctor who said, ‘this is leprosy and you must take her to Naini hospital’. I spent a lot of time, energy and money trying to find out what my disease was.

‘Previously I worked in the fields. That made my feet worse. I have anaesthetic hands and feet. If I get a burn I don’t realise it.

Neelmani explains that Rekah has a husband and children, but he is neglectful of his family and plays no supporting role.

‘I was taking MDT [multidrug therapy, the cure for leprosy]. After a few months I developed an ulcer and was admitted. One day at home, while I was sleeping, a cat or a rat had bitten my anaesthetic foot. It was bleeding and I was very disturbed and thought ‘I will die. Now I won’t cause any problems to anyone’, so didn’t call my brother. It became worse so I called him to bring me here. He took responsibility for me and consoled me. He said, “I’ll look after you, even though it is very difficult”.

‘I’ve had some stigma from the community because of leprosy. The family and community use bad words about me. Some relatives say “she is smelly; take her to the leprosy hospital”. Before the leprosy, everyone was normal to me. I was a good wife and daughter-in-law, everyone respected me.’ 

At this point Rekah became too distressed to continue.

Rekah found medical and emotional support at Naini hospital; without it, she would still be searching for the help she so desperately needs. If you can support our work at Naini, you will help to give leprosy-affected people back their voice, dignity and purpose.

Thank you for considering a donation

Stamps and Collectables achieve another record total in 2010:

£75,382 

One thing that doesn’t change is the unfailing support and help we receive from our supporters. Our grateful thanks go to everyone who has supported our sales of stamps, coins, postcards and other small collectables. One of the recent changes is the method used in stamp production and in particular the introduction of the self-adhesive type. We welcome ALL types of stamps, even the most common, but would prefer that all self-adhesives are left on their backing and not soaked off. All stamps on paper now sell very quickly, especially if they are already trimmed. Excitingly, for the first time in our 27 years, demand has outweighed supply, so please continue to collect and encourage others to do so too!

Justice and Dignity – Our theme for 2011

On the outskirts of Awassa in Southern Ethiopia, all the rubbish and dead animal carcasses were taken to the city dump to rot. People were forced to live amongst all this waste, including families affected by leprosy. A few years ago, through the great efforts of The Leprosy Mission and local officials, an agreement was reached to clear the land and make it habitable. With the rubbish removed, new strongly built houses, with toilet and kitchen facilities, have been provided to replace the old ramshackle huts. Water is now readily available from a well and life for many families affected by leprosy has been dramatically changed. Just seeing the joy on the faces of the young people who will benefit most from these changes makes us realise how important the work of The Leprosy Mission is, not only medically but in other ways too. Our thanks to you all for helping to make changes like these possible and please KEEP ON STAMPING.

More about collecting stamps, what to do and where to send them.