its like i am blind waiting for asylum in a british hotel
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With the contentious Rwanda plan in disarray, experts say the U.K. government should focus on a huge backlog of asylum cases, including 50,000 people in hotels.

Every morning, Mohammed Al Muhandes wakes up in a hotel in Leeds, England, and wonders how to pass the day.

Along with dozens of other asylum seekers, he eats the same breakfast each morning, then returns to his room or walks in a nearby park. The 9.58 pounds, or $11.90, he is given each week is barely enough for one return bus trip to the city center (£4.50) and a cup of coffee. Asylum seekers in Britain are not allowed to work.

Mr. Al Muhandes, 53, who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, tries to stay busy, taking free classes and spending time in a local nature reserve, but he has waited almost five months for a decision on his case. While he is overwhelmingly grateful to have escaped conflict in his home country, Yemen, the uncertainty is hard.

“It’s like I am waiting for something, and I don’t know when it will come,” Mr. Al Muhandes said. “It’s like I am blind.”

Mohammed Al Muhandes, an asylum seeker from Yemen, in Leeds, England, at the Adel Dam Nature Reserve, where he likes to walk for peace of mind while he goes through Britain’s asylum process. Mary Turner for The New York Times

For some, this limbo can last for years — a wait exacerbated by deep-rooted problems in Britain’s immigration system.

Total asylum backlog in the U.K.

Asylum applicants awaiting an initial decision

Source: U.K. Home Office

By The New York Times

Number of asylum decision makers

Source: U.K. Home office

By The New York Times

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