The investigation reveals that the British government paid more than $ 950,000 to a company that encouraged people not to leave Afghanistan before the Taliban captured it in August last year. Independent.
Pretending to be a non-profit organization, the Hong Kong-based Sifer campaigned online against asylum seekers and potential immigrants for the risks and dangers they face when traveling to Europe and the UK.
Founded in 2014, Seifer focuses on the “risks of irregular migration” and the importance of “safe and legal alternatives”, although it does not provide any details on how to apply for asylum in the UK or how to apply for resettlement.
According to the company, it describes itself as an “authorized leader in understanding migrant behavioral change”, with “extensive experience in developing and implementing innovative monitoring and evaluation approaches for irregular migration communication campaigns”.
Inquiry of Independent It has now been revealed that Seifer was powered by funds provided by the British government, with the country providing at least $ 950,000 since 2016. Other payments may have been made to the company by the Foreign Office.
The document cites the country’s public spending records listing 12 separate grants and payments of up to $ 162,451 to the company between 2016 and 2018. “Advertising, Media and Advertising”.
Between December 2020 and April 2021, social media companies Facebook and Instagram were paid more than $ 31,134 nationwide, linked to one of Ziefer’s sites, ‘On the Move’. On the site, he told immigrants who saw him: “You have a choice […] Do not risk your life, do not waste your hard earned money and do not try to move to the UK.
Although the site does not officially list the British government as a donor, it does list its “supporters”, including the UK, German, Australian and Dutch governments and the European Commission.
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Between February and December 2020, Siefer and its websites focused specifically on the campaign to reach immigrants from Afghanistan, however, branding it a “migration communication campaign”. In a statement, he said the campaign had resulted in “more than half of those consulted making safe and informed migration decisions, avoiding dangerous encounters on the trip to Europe.”
According to the investigation, the funding is not over yet: the British government is expected to provide an additional $ 676,777 in public money to Siefer under a new agreement – announced in March last year – “to prevent and influence tactics for organized immigration crime.”
In August, the company was awarded another three-year contract to provide a “training delivery framework” for the government sector to “provide foreign strategic development programs on behalf of the country.”
A country spokesman told the newspaper: “We do not apologize for using every possible tool to provide life-saving information to immigrants. […] It is important to highlight the threats of these deadly voyages and to make it clear that people risk their lives if they return to the kidnappers. He also cited the controversial proposal for a Nationality and Boundaries Act to “repair a broken asylum system.” We will get people in safe and lawful ways, without abusing the system. “
Many criticize the UK government for focusing more on encouraging asylum seekers to cross the English Channel and trying to convict the kidnappers who allegedly carried them out, rather than providing safe alternatives. Asylum process.
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