PDA

View Full Version : refugee and migrant justice



don_quixote
30-05-2010, 05:29 PM
impending administration. government legal costs backlogged due to tardiness in processing claims.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/30/asylum-refugee-migrant-justice
http://refugee-migrant-justice.org.uk/?page_id=4

lack of legal aid for refugees could lead to absolute chaos.

sufi
30-05-2010, 06:46 PM
o bollocks
have worked with these folks for the last 15 years more or less (in their former incarnation - refugee legal centre)... they are bona fide and what they say about funding is sadly absolutely right,
shame
support them

don_quixote
02-06-2010, 06:15 PM
hi

facebook group here:
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36903971&ref=name#!/group.php?gid=124701990894435

in those opening links there's a letter to send to ken clarke the justice secretary

scottdisco
03-06-2010, 04:09 PM
hi

facebook group here:
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36903971&ref=name#!/group.php?gid=124701990894435

in those opening links there's a letter to send to ken clarke the justice secretary

cheers D_Q will have a go at that

baboon2004
03-06-2010, 04:43 PM
don't know anything about the specifics of this case, but having had to suppress my laughter/disgust at the amount barristers are paid when sorting out our finances here, money which is then reclaimed through legal aid, well...such fees must be a huge drain upon the pool of legal aid funding that is available...little wodner there are shortfalls/delays in other parts of the system.

gumdrops
04-06-2010, 09:24 AM
i do some work with refugees - being left in legal limbo is no joke. and the time lag between claims being processed and decisions made is already pretty poor. it seriously plays havoc with their lives/heads. met one guy this week who was escaping torture because of his political alliances and so had a passport with a diff name (ie if he was caught back home he would have been detained so you need diff names) when he arrived here and ended up in prison for several months for it.

sufi
17-06-2010, 07:13 PM
forced into administration yesterday, demonstrate tomorrow,

staff have apparently been paid early, which will be their final paycheque and are expecting to clear their desks within the next week.


The UNITE union has called an urgent protest in response to Refugee and Mirgrant Justice being shut down due to a funding crisis caused by the structures of legal aid. without such lawyers migrant workers and their families are in desperate problems and open to exploitation and bad advice. this is real emergency for migrants and for the most vulnerable in particular

Demonstrate Against Likely Closure of Refugee and Migrant Justice – Defend Legal Aid


Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ), the largest provider of specialist legal advice for asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants in England and Wales, went into administration on June 16 2010.

This is a result of cuts in Legal Aid over recent years and changes in the way in which Legal Aid providers are paid. RMJ used to get paid monthly, but is now only paid after each case is closed – many cases last many months or even years. No charity can be expected to wait that long for payment and many law centres are finding it difficult to cope with the new payment system. David Cameron’s claims to value the work of charities rings very hollow indeed.

RMJ (formerly the Refugee Legal Centre) was founded in 1992 and in the last year alone has helped over 11,000 people. Closure would mean that many thousands of vulnerable people will be left without legal representation. Many will face being returned to countries where they face persecution and their lives are in danger.

So far the Ministry of Justice has declined to help RMJ. UNITE is calling for RMJ to be saved and for proper Legal Aid funding to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society have real access to justice.

Cuts in public spending are affecting the poorest people right across our society. But these people did not cause the economic crisis and should not be made to pay for it.

UNITE, the union that represents RMJ’s 340 staff, has called a demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice at 4pm on Friday 18th June 2010. Please join us.

Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

Tubes: St James’s Park and Westminster

For further details, please contact Rachael Maskell, Unite National Officer, Community and Non Profit Sector: 07768 693933
http://tinyurl.com/2cbhn5e

Background:

Refugee and Migrant Justice goes into administration
http://www.freemovement.org.uk/Media-2/RMJBust.html

Denying child asylum seekers a legal lifeline
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/jun/16/child-asylum-seekers-legal-aid

Save Refugee and Migrant Justice
http://www.freemovement.org.uk/Media-1/RMJ.html

matt b
18-06-2010, 09:51 AM
forced into administration yesterday, demonstrate tomorrow,

staff have apparently been paid early, which will be their final paycheque and are expecting to clear their desks within the next week.

:(

sufi
21-06-2010, 05:42 PM
Urgent appeal: 24 Hours to Save Refugee and Migrant Justice

A consortium of charitable trusts and city law firms, supported by Simon Hughes MP, are putting together a proposal to Government to save Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ). The proposal asks the Government to at least pay the money that it would have to pay anyway on insolvency on the understanding that this will be matched with up to £1,000,000 by way of grants, secured loans and donations to meet cash needs to finance work in progress.

We need concrete commitments for these funds today or as early as possible tomorrow – actual cash can come a bit later. So far today, we have been pledged £134,000. Significantly more could follow from charitable trusts and others we are already talking with. But at this point it is clear that this is going to be a very considerable challenge without some additional help.

The aim of the plan is to enable, with full transparency and without prejudicing the position of creditors, a 3 month period in which the Government can consider whether it might change the payment system, there might be time to look at some innovative solutions with the Office of Civil Society and banks and RMJ would demonstrate that it had a viable forward business model. If all that fails, at least it would provide time for an orderly transfer of our clients’ cases. We have 10,000 clients, including 900 unaccompanied children who may otherwise be left in limbo.

We are appealing for donations, however small, to help save RMJ and secure its services over the next three months. If funds from both Government and other funders can be agreed, RMJ’s administrators would, in principle, support the proposal to take RMJ out of administration.

To make a pledge, or for further information, please telephone Kathleen Commons on 07872 161 271 or email savermj@gmail.com
or check facebook group SAVE REFUGEE AND MIGRANT JUSTICE: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=124701990894435

About Refugee and Migrant Justice

Refugee and Migrant Justice is committed to securing justice for asylum seekers and other migrants in the UK.

We are the largest specialist provider of advice and representation to asylum seekers and other migrants needing protection or other help to secure their human rights.

As well as helping individual clients, we use our considerable expertise to campaign for positive changes.

don_quixote
21-06-2010, 06:46 PM
please do this, i have already pledged. it shouldn't be down to us but it probably has to.

scottdisco
21-06-2010, 10:30 PM
cheers guys.

was telling a close mate the other day about gumdrops' story ^ - 'ckin unbelievable, Kafka esque 'mare
:(

baboon2004
22-06-2010, 12:05 PM
please do this, i have already pledged. it shouldn't be down to us but it probably has to.

do you just send a email with detaisl of how much you'd like to pledge, and that's it at present? If so, will do this at lunchtime

gumdrops
22-06-2010, 01:12 PM
whats the best thing to do? just pledge? i cant attend the demo but want to know what else you can do.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/21/scandal-britain-turn-back-refugees-create


This is not a party political point. These changes came about as a result of policies ushered in by New Labour, borne of many years of pandering to populist demagoguery. Asylum seekers emerged during the mid-nineties as a confected scapegoat in the British polity – all the more easy to demonise since relatively few people had ever met one. "Minorities are the flashpoint for a series of uncertainties that mediate between everyday life and its fast-shifting global backdrop," writes Arjun Appadurai in his book Fear of Small Numbers. "This uncertainty, exacerbated by an inability of states to secure economic sovereignty in the era of globalisation, may translate into a lack of tolerance of any sort of collective stranger."

sufi
22-06-2010, 03:11 PM
as far as i know that's it,
not on facebook so i don't know whether there is a running total somewhere?

scottdisco
22-06-2010, 03:59 PM
So far, the SAVE RMJ pledge campaign has raised £189 600 since 2pm yesterday. This is amazing, but we are still a far way off from the £1 million pounds we need. Please, everyone, spread the word about our campaign!
Thank you so so much for all your help and support

certainly pledge if you've not done so, and can do

highhhness
22-06-2010, 04:34 PM
and the time lag between claims being processed and decisions made is already pretty poor

this is really only part of the problem. key issue is the quality (or lack thereof) of intial decision-making - Home Office has sped it up, but routinely makes poor initial decisions on asylum claims. appealing these decisions eventually takes cases into the mainstream legal system, which is where the really long delays (at least recently) are happening. If there was a proper legal aid system with sufficient time allocated to presenting asylum cases then proper decisions would be made first-time - thus reducing appeals, related legal costs and individual support costs (asylum seekers can't work), not to mention those with good claims being forcibly returned. complete financial and humanitarian no-brainer.

pledged, in any case, really hope they make the total.

don_quixote
22-06-2010, 06:36 PM
afraid to say it's probably all over guys :(

highhhness
22-06-2010, 07:22 PM
afraid to say it's probably all over guys :(

where's your info from - u no someone who works there/work there yourself? can't see anything on their website or on the facebook group...

don_quixote
22-06-2010, 07:52 PM
i know someone who works there

highhhness
22-06-2010, 08:07 PM
ah ok, thanks. really gutting, this.

scottdisco
22-06-2010, 10:37 PM
:( :(

thanks for starting the thread D_Q.

aside from the main issue of their clients (up to 900 children potentially in limbo?!), presumably your friend and their colleagues will be out of a job soon, too?

as highhhness wrote, poor quality initial decisions. isn't it - essentially - the case that there is a routine culture of disbelief at the Home Office wrt the officers that assess initial claims and cynicism tends to be the default reaction?

i am sure Sufi could speak on this topic.

don_quixote
22-06-2010, 10:43 PM
well i should have spoken about it in the past tense above; out of a job now. sufi knows more than me about the system. gutted in general, britain just got that little more unfriendly. even the guardian blogposts are full of bilious comments about how these people are scroungers... one guy responded to "you do realise you are talking about people fleeing torture/rape/persecution right?" with "and presumably no social benefits either?" - it beggars belief.

sufi
23-06-2010, 12:56 AM
heh well cheers! :rolleyes:
it's definitely the case that ukba are cynical and incompetent, as the recent whistleblower mentioned

"Perrett ... said interviews were conducted without lawyers, independent witnesses or tape recorders. If a case was difficult, Perrett claims, she was simply advised to refuse it and “let a tribunal sort it out”. Only cases raised by MPs appeared to be dealt with properly.
Perrett said she was given the power to make legally binding decisions on whether asylum seekers were granted or refused asylum after just five weeks’ training. She also had the power to detain individuals and families for up to 28 days.
... It was Horrific"
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmhaff/406/406.pdf
interestingly the disparities between cases of nationalities refused at initial determination, and then won at appeal after proper consideration demonstrate nicely the systematic prejudice of UKBA

up til 97 while asylum numbers steadily rose the tories basically neglected the immigration directorate of the home office - now UKBA, imposing impossible visa regimes whenever a country started producing refugees rather than internal controls.
Labour took a more active approach, and re-structured and renamed the service repeatedly, moving control onshore by taking on responsibility for domestic arrangements of asylum seekers - accommodation and benefits, excluding them from the mainstream system. this has been a total mess from the start til now, exacerbated by bonkers projects and targets triggered by media panics, and has left UKBA no better than in '97 - experienced and/or decent officers forced out, demoralised staff out of their depth,
apart from the unstated aim of 'establishing irreversible de facto multiculturalism thru mass immigration (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1222613/Labour-let-migrants-engineer-multicultural-UK.html)' of the early blair years which i'm not convinced is not a dailyhate fantasy, the only actual strategy seems to have been deterrence thru chaos, neglect and attrition, much like the tories.
asylum numbers have gone back down to mid 90's levels though, and UKBA have contorted themselves to clear 1000s of backlogged cases without uttering the word amnesty, unfortunately the process for new claims has been accelerated to the point that the system is undermined when cases are refused so quickly, without legal reps or serious consideration or scrutiny and the system blocks up again,
which is where RMJ come in :(

highhhness
23-06-2010, 12:58 AM
isn't it - essentially - the case that there is a routine culture of disbelief at the Home Office wrt the officers that assess initial claims and cynicism tends to be the default reaction?

that's definitely one element, and it's pretty institutionalised. the whistleblowing case (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/feb/02/border-staff-asylum-seekers-whistleblower) from the temp who worked for the border agency in cardiff shows just how much so:

Louise Perrett, who worked as a case owner at the Border Agency office in Cardiff for three and a half months last summer, claims staff kept a stuffed gorilla, a "grant monkey", which was placed as a badge of shame on the desk of any officer who approved an asylum application

edit: my bad same article as sufi linked

highhhness
23-06-2010, 01:09 AM
asylum numbers have gone back down to mid 90's levels though, and UKBA have contorted themselves to clear 1000s of backlogged cases without uttering the word amnesty, unfortunately the process for new claims has been accelerated to the point that the system is undermined when cases are refused so quickly, without legal reps or serious consideration or scrutiny and the system blocks up again, which is where RMJ come in :(

there's also an insistence from ukba on using the lowest possible legal standards to to determine the need for protection, and waiting for it to be challenged on appeal. if standards were raised just slightly, legal/support costs would be reduced and protection would be granted to a whole lot of people who need it - and the need for RMJ and similar would be really reduced. i really don't get it - the cost argument alone is overwhelming...

sufi
23-06-2010, 01:25 AM
drat that was a longer post, with more links, and proofed, my browser ate it, as i was saying;

...strangely the LSC who are responsible for RMJs demise are not even close relatives of UKBA (who belong to Home Office, LSC belong to MoJ), but the sector has been blighted by chaos and incompetence (and occasional spicy corruption) from the top down to the sub-sub-sub-contracted muscle, lurching from crisis to crisis for so long that it's not surprising that important chunks are dropping off
on one level everyone has an interest in RMJ's survival - access to legal advice is crucial to making the system efficient, fair and humane, but at the same time unfairness, ineptness and blatant disregard for human rights are deterrent factors too, depending on your level of cynicism

RMJ have been instrumental in keeping people off flights like the recent 2nd deportation charter to baghdad, UKBA have direct flights to mogadishu and kabul scheduled,
pass your pledge on to asylum aid (http://www.asylumaid.org.uk/), ncadc (http://www.ncadc.org.uk/)or ilpa (http://www.ilpa.org.uk/)or another sister in the struggle

happy refugee week

highhhness
24-06-2010, 09:38 AM
this today:

It with sadness that I have to tell you that the plan to rescue RMJ has not been successful. However, we have been overwhelmed and very touched by the support we received.
The future at this point is not clear. However, if it becomes possible to save part of RMJ, for example, a particular office, and there is a need for funds then perhaps we might get back in touch with you to see if you could help. Please let me know if that would be possible. I will not be able to access this email account for a while, but if you would like to contact me, or need any more information, you can reach me at kabcommons@googlemail.com. I will try to keep you updated with any developments about RMJ.
Many thanks for all your kindness, and support,
Kathleen Commons

sufi
24-06-2010, 11:09 PM
Freemovement General information:

Asylum-seeker clients of Refugee and Migrant Justice are taking the Justice and Home Secretaries to court to try to force the government to stump up close to £1m to cover the costs of transferring their legal cases to other lawyers.

Home Secretary and Justice Secretary in High Court over refugee charity collapse

Finance | Tania Mason | 24 Jun 2010
Topics: Law | Funding | Statutory funding | Public service delivery
http://tinyurl.com/32unvl6

Asylum-seeker clients of Refugee and Migrant Justice are taking the Justice and Home Secretaries to court to try to force the government to stump up close to £1m to cover the costs of transferring their legal cases to other lawyers.

The case opened in London's High Court on Tuesday, with the charity's clients seeking judicial review of the Legal Services Commission's decision to terminate the charity's contract and not provide sufficient funding to enable it to continue operating.

They also say the Home Secretary should have undertaken not to reject any asylum applications or deport anyone until adequate alternative legal representation is secured.

And they request sufficient funds to cover the distribution of the outstanding cases to other lawyers.


Emergency appeal failed

The charity had been trying to raise last-minute funds from voluntary donations to plug the funding shortfall and rescue the organisation, but was unable to raise the amount needed. Late yesterday it issued a statement saying it would return the funds raised to the donors and proceed with winding up. It had put itself into administration last week, claiming the new legal aid payment system made it impossible for it to survive.

The preliminary hearing this week sought to establish exactly what issues should be aired in the hearing proper next week.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom said: "The claimants' position is simple...you challenge the LSC's decision to terminate the contract without making adequate provision for alternative representation for the clients of RMJ."

Martin Westgate QC, representing the claimants, said there was not enough alternative representation available and this could have a "seriously detrimental effect on very many clients".

"It is not good enough to say to clients: 'Here is a list of providers in your area' when a number of them don't provide immigration advice at all or don't have the capacity to take on more cases," he argued. "We say LSC should have addressed this before giving notice. It is their obligation to secure alternative arrangements."

But the judge reminded Westgate that "a judicial review is not a public inquiry into how an authority acted.

"It is not this court's role to supervise the difficult tasks that the LSC has in ensuring that their statutory obligations are performed in relation to the nine or ten thousand people who were formally clients of RMJ.

"The answer to the provision of alternative services is not going to be: "Give RMJ £2m to keep it going" or 'Give X £1m to take on the work'. It's going to be far more complex than that - it will be related to the individual needs of the clients."

Westgate responded: "LSC has a duty to ensure continuing advice and we say there is evidence that is not being fulfilled. There are not enough solicitors to do the work. Unless problems of capacity are addressed, that duty is incapable of being fulfilled."
Set out parameters of the case

Mr Paul Nicholls, representing the Justice Secretary, said the claimants had to establish the parameters of the case by setting out precisely what the defendants had done that is unlawful. "Issues need to be formulated so that evidence can be directed to that," he said.

Mr Sheldon, representing the Home Office, said the Home Secretary was "troubled by her involvement in this case", and wanted to know what public law duty she is alleged to have breached.

Justice Hickinbottom said: "It is obvious the placing of RMJ into administration has created challenges for all sorts of people. But the court is not responsible for supervising how those challenges are met in practice. All it can do is look at the decisions made and determine whether they were unlawful."


The judge gave the claimants until 9am this morning to prepare a document setting out exactly what it is they allege the defendants to have done wrong, and then gave all parties the weekend to prepare evidence backing up their case. They will return to court for the hearing proper next Wednesday. The application for interim relief will be pursued then.

He also agreed to applications to intervene in the case from the Children's Commissioner for England and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association.

highhhness
22-07-2010, 03:32 PM
RMJ closure main topic at Immigration Advisory Service conference yesterday. Man from the Legal Services Commission insisted they did all they could and RMJ shut down communications/left it to the '13th hour' (I quote) to advise them of imminent closure and hence actively prevented the earlier transfer of cases. RMJ, ILPA and everyone else wholeheartedly refuted this version of events. Man from the LSC left directly after his speech citing diary commitments. Safety first.

sufi
02-08-2010, 11:01 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/01/asylum-seeker-osman-rasul-death-legal-aid


"He felt he was never able to take control of his life. He was frustrated that his case had not been progressed so he decided to go down to the Home Office [immigration centre] in Croydon and 'hand himself in', saying: 'Either send me home or help me'. He felt he was taking control at last. It was a brave thing to do. But when he got there they said 'Who are you? We don't know you. Get a solicitor'. In terms of his mental state it was too much to take.

"In London he stayed with friends some of the time but also slept rough and was not eating well. He was mentally and physically exhausted when he came back. We didn't realise the severity of the situation.

"He went out for a bike ride on the Sunday," Woolner said. "We thought that was positive. But he did not come back."

Woolner is now trying to raise money for Rasul's body to be returned to Iraq.Rasul was separated from his Polish partner and the mother of their sons, Malgorzata Gajda, 30, who lives in Coventry. She said he had become increasingly distant from their sometimes tempestuous relationship. "He was on the balcony for two hours, I was told. At 6pm that evening I received a call from a private number. I said 'Hello, hello' but no one answered. I'm sure it was him. He wanted to hear me and the kids for the last time."

"The police tried to keep speaking with him. He was very quiet. Then he put his hand on his heart and looked up to God and jumped."

Please forward the following message to anyone who you know who may want
to give.

Dear friends,

We are writing this in order to ask for donations to help in the
repatriation and burial of our friend Osman Mohammed.

Osman was an asylum seeker from Kurdistan who had lived in the UK since
2003. Having faced constant dismissal from the Home Office over all these
years and in the wake of several traumatic experiences over the past
month, Osman took his own life on 25th July 2010.

A commemoration event and fundraising efforts are now being put in place
in order to mark Osman’s life. These will be taking place over the next
month. The immediate future, however, requires that we help raise the
£3,300 needed to send Osman’s body home, so he can be buried by his
family. In this respect time is of the essence.

We have a cooperative bank account set up which is being used to
specifically deal with donations taken in the immediate future for this
purpose and if you feel you can spare anything at all please use the bank
details below:


sort code - 08-93-00
account number - 14455751


Thank you so much on behalf of all of Osman’s family, friends and those who
understood his struggle.

highhhness
09-08-2010, 01:28 PM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t8752#synopsis pretty good take on human effects of inadequate legal rep caused by idiotic LSC funding/payments regime, plus extent of shoddy advisers. shame it takes something like a suicide to provoke this kind of programming.

sufi
10-07-2011, 01:09 PM
o disaster
IAS have gone into administration
unbelievable gutting of legal advice provision
http://ilegal.org.uk/index.cgi?board=news&action=display&thread=3477

baboon2004
11-07-2011, 11:45 PM
o disaster
IAS have gone into administration
unbelievable gutting of legal advice provision
http://ilegal.org.uk/index.cgi?board=news&action=display&thread=3477

Bloody hell, Disastrous :(

We were at legal aid awards thing t'other week, and one person who won an award was this woman who used to work at RMJ and basically carried boxes and boxes of files over to a local law centre when it closed, and has continued on those cases at the law centre. I know it's no substitute for the services that are being gutted, but it's still a sterling effort.

I don't know much abotu this particular (IAS) situation apart from what's in the link, but hell, the LSC cuts are devastating to so many.

Are any newspapers proeprly covering this (not rhetorical, genuine question)?

sufi
12-07-2011, 05:33 PM
Bloody hell, Disastrous :(

We were at legal aid awards thing t'other week, and one person who won an award was this woman who used to work at RMJ and basically carried boxes and boxes of files over to a local law centre when it closed, and has continued on those cases at the law centre. I know it's no substitute for the services that are being gutted, but it's still a sterling effort.
One of the winners was Baljeet Sandhu, formerly an immigration lawyer with the Refugee and Migrant Justice, which went into administration last year because of cash flow problems. She now works at Islington Law Centre, after pitching up there with 70 boxes of files she had "rescued" from RMJ (standing on the pavement with them while bemused law centre staff helped bring them into the office).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jun/29/fiona-bawdon-legal-aid-awards


I don't know much abotu this particular (IAS) situation apart from what's in the link, but hell, the LSC cuts are devastating to so many.

Are any newspapers proeprly covering this (not rhetorical, genuine question)?
was on bbc news last night

baboon2004
15-07-2011, 05:15 PM
Cheers Sufi. Heard some terrible things/future prognosis talking to a guy who works for Asylum Aid this week. Obv they can't cope witht he volume of cases following RMJ and IAS closures.

Yeah, my colleague here used to work with her. Didn't realise the Graun had covered the event. Another one of the winners was bizarrely a friend of a friend I hadn't seen in years.

Last paragraph is very true....certainly the most straight talking thing said on the night.

highhhness
17-07-2011, 02:28 PM
whilst LSC and Legal Aid cuts are ultimately responsible, I'm not sure IAS couldn't have managed the closure a bit better. I'm open to being enlightened by someone who knows more about administration than I do, but I know IAS staff would have worked for free to cover a wind-down period, and have heard from mates working in the wider sector that they were in denial about the likely outcome of the whole situation right up until the end (hence the sudden closure). Any thoughts? Or is that just the way these things work?

this kind of group - pro bono, local, no desire for Legal Aid funding, a whole lot of capacity for country research - http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/migration-pulse/2011/south-yorkshire-legal-support-group-launched - seems like the way forward...

Mr. Tea
27-02-2017, 11:16 AM
Singaporean woman with British husband, sons and granddaughter (!) sent 'home' without chance to contact her lawyer. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39099574)

Apparently the amount of time she'd spent in Singapore caring for her elderly parents has invalidated her claim to live in the UK, despite being married to a British man for 27 years.

What the fuck is happening to this country? Unbelievably grim.