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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

UK: New report calls for end to asylum seekers’ destitution

Source: British Red Cross

The British Red Cross has launched an advocacy report which highlights the dire hardships facing destitute asylum seekers – and the urgent need for a more humane asylum system.

The report – titled Not gone, but forgotten (PDF) – explores the Red Cross’ work supporting thousands of destitute asylum seekers and refugees throughout the UK, and the daily challenges they face just to survive. 

In particular, it explores the experiences of refused asylum seekers who have reached the end of the appeal process and suggests some policy solutions to help improve their humanitarian situation. The report’s findings show that, under current policy, thousands of refused asylum seekers are denied employment, made homeless, refused healthcare and rely on handouts to survive.

Chief executive Nick Young said: “Our report shows that current policy is making thousands of refused asylum seekers destitute. Unable to work and provide for themselves, deprived of accommodation and denied healthcare, these people’s lives are in limbo.

“The British Red Cross believes that anyone who comes to this country fleeing persecution and applies for asylum should be treated in a way that maintains their dignity. Making them homeless, withdrawing support and often forcing them to go underground with the risk of exploitation and illegal work does not meet with these standards and is actually counter-productive.”

Four key changes

In the destitution report, the Red Cross suggests four key policy changes to the asylum system that would improve the humanitarian situation of this vulnerable group:
  • The adoption of the principle that destitution should not be an outcome of the asylum system.
  • The provision of support for all destitute refused asylum seekers with dependent children.
  • An end-to-end asylum support structure, including permission to work, until the applicant is either removed or granted leave to remain.
  • An entitlement to healthcare throughout the asylum process.
Tinashe (name changed) is an asylum seeker and a former accountant who was forced to flee his native Zimbabwe as a result of political persecution. He has been receiving support from the Red Cross to provide for himself and his family as a result of him being destitute.

He said: “I have a wife and two young boys, who make my heart bleed each time I look at them and realise I cannot provide for them like a father should. We are faced with uncertainty each day – and survive only on the goodwill of friends for a roof over our head, and charities like the Red Cross for food and clothing.”
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