Support for refused asylum seekers

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Refused asylum seekers left destitute in the UK

Background information

No doubt you will have heard or read reports about how the UK is meant to be a “soft touch” for asylum seekers. Yet, in reality, the level of support provided to asylum seekers is far lower than that of income support and is usually withdrawn altogether if a claim is refused. Many refused asylum seekers are, in fact, unable to return to their home countries due to the risks they would face because of, for example, armed conflicts, generalised violence and repressive regimes. As a result, many refused asylum seekers from countries where such problems are rife (including Zimbabwe, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea) are being forced into destitution, as they are not permitted to work here. To make matters worse, it appears as though this could be part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the UK Government. Certainly, this is the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which recently reviewed the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK and reached the following conclusion:

“We have been persuaded by the evidence that the Government has indeed been practising a deliberate policy of destitution of this highly vulnerable group.  We believe that the deliberate use of inhumane treatment is unacceptable.  We have seen instances in all cases where the Government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers falls below the requirements of the common law of humanity and of international human rights law”.

In light of this, we are calling on you to support the Still Human Still Here Campaign, which is fully endorsed by Amnesty International and many other reputable organisations (http://stillhumanstillhere.wordpress.com/).

The Still Human Still Here Campaign

The Still Human Still Here Campaign is dedicated to highlighting the plight of tens of thousands of refused asylum seekers who are destitute in the UK.

Supporters of the campaign believe that the denial of any means of subsistence to refused asylum seekers as a matter of government policy is both inhumane and ineffective.

Its supporters are calling on the Government to:

  • End the threat and use of destitution as a tool of Government policy against refused asylum seekers 
  • Continue financial support and accommodation to refused asylum seekers as provided during the asylum process and grant permission to work until such a time as they have left the UK or have been granted leave to remain
  • Continue to provide full access to health care and education throughout the same period

What can I do?

We are asking you to write to your local MP in order to highlight the issue and ask for his or her support. Please feel free to use the model letter below (preferably adapting it, where possible) for this purpose. If you don’t know who your MP is, you can find out at www.theyworkforyou.com. Then, all you need to do is send your letter (addressed to your own MP) to:

House of Commons
London
SW1 0AA

If you receive a reply from your MP, please send a copy to The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA

***START OF MODEL LETTER***
Dear …..

I am writing to you because I am extremely concerned about the plight of tens of thousands of refused asylum seekers within the UK.

As you are no doubt already aware, under current rules the vast majority of refused asylum seekers are not entitled to any form of financial support. However, you also need to know that due to the fact that many of these refused asylum seekers are unable to return to their home countries for perfectly legitimate reasons and are also forbidden from working under UK law, they are being forced into destitution. The “lucky ones” manage to survive thanks to the charity of other people, yet others end up begging or working as prostitutes.

Many of those who have been refused asylum are from countries where conflict, violence and human rights violations are rife, including for example places such as Zimbabwe, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea. Fearing for their lives, these refused asylum seekers are unable to return home, but at the same time are unable to achieve any quality of life here in the UK because of the restrictions imposed on them.

What is even more worrying about this situation is the conclusion recently reached by the Joint Committee on Human Rights while reviewing the treatment of asylum seekers within the UK:

“We have been persuaded by the evidence that the Government has indeed been practising a deliberate policy of destitution of this highly vulnerable group.  We believe that the deliberate use of inhumane treatment is unacceptable.  We have seen instances in all cases where the Government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers falls below the requirements of the common law of humanity and of international human rights law”.

I firmly believe that the current system is inhumane, unjust and inefficient and am therefore calling on you as my local MP to help end the destitution of refused asylum seekers by raising this issue with the Home Secretary and urging her department to:

  • End the threat and use of destitution as a tool of Government policy against refused asylum seekers 
  • Continue financial support and accommodation to refused asylum seekers as provided during the asylum process and grant permission to work until such a time as they have left the UK or have been granted leave to remain
  • Continue to provide full access to health care and education throughout the same period

Yours sincerely,

 

***END OF MODEL LETTER***

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