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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Amnesty research backs Church campaign for asylum seekers
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¬†New research by Amnesty International and Refugee Action published backs the ongoing "Living Ghosts" campaign by Church Action on Poverty to change the Government policy that is making thousands of people destitute who are seeking asylum. Amnesty International UK and Refugee Action looked at the situation of refused asylum seekers in 10 cities in England. Many of these people are unable to return home because it is unsafe, eg Somali, Afghanistan and Iraq. The government policy is that of 'carrot and stick': a grant if you "volunteer" to the country of origin; no benefits if you don't. Alan Thornton, the Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty's Living Ghosts campaign said: "As winter starts to bite this research from Amnesty International and Refugee Action is a timely reminder that as a result of Government policy thousands of people are eating out of bins and sleeping in parks, public toilets and phone-boxes. The Government is undermining their own policies by not allowing people refused asylum, who are unable to return, to work. It is nobodies interest ≠ neither Government's, society's or asylum seekers' ≠ to force thousands of people to disappear underground. Last Christmas over 60 Church leaders spoke out that this Government policy is inhuman and unacceptable. And this year 67 MP's have supported a motion (EDM 2264) in support of the campaign. We are delighted that there is a growing realisation that Government is hindering rather than helping our society. Allowing them to work would help the UK economy, lift thousands out of the shadowy underworld and drastically reduce the high costs of dealing with rough sleeping. Some people who spoke to Amnesty International and Refugee Action have been destitute for over five years. Many of those interviewed spoke of the "absolute hopelessness" of their situation that is forcing them to make desperate choices. Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: "The government's policy on refused asylum-seekers is a failure on both a practical level and a humanitarian level - forcing people into complete destitution as an attempt to drive them out of the country is backfiring badly and vulnerable people are suffering. Refused asylum-seekers in our towns and cities are being reduced to penniless poverty - forced to sleep in parks, public toilets and phone-boxes, to go without vital medicines even after suffering torture, and to relying on the charity of friends or drop-in shelters to survive." Refugee Action and Amnesty International report supports Church Action on Poverty's call for the basic right of "work for those that can; support for those that can't" to be extended to all those in the UK ≠ which includes refused asylum seekers who are stuck here. Specifically the two organisations say: - Ensure that refused asylum-seekers remain on the same financial support and accommodation as during the asylum process until their situation is resolved -Grant temporary, renewable permission to stay in the country that allows refused asylum-seekers, who cannot safely be returned to their countries of origin within six months, to stay in the UK, to work and to access medical care - End the long-term limbo of refused asylum-seekers still in the UK after several years, by granting them permission to stay in the country, as well as the right to work, to claim benefits and access medical care Ensure that the government's asylum case-workers build in anti-destitution support measures as part of the so-called New Asylum Model" where cases are managed from beginning to end
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