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Monday, October 24, 2016
Churches challenge government on treatment of asylum seekers
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¬†Church Action on Poverty is launching a campaign today, the start of Refugee Week, expressing grave concern at the government system that leaves some asylum seekers totally destitute in the UK. The following statement, to be signed by church leaders of all denominations, will be presented to the government. -- Statement for the end of the destitution of asylum seekers Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2) We believe that it is inhuman and unacceptable that some asylum seekers are left homeless and destitute by government policies. Every city has people destitute or living on food parcels because they have no means of support. We support Church Action on Poverty's call to change the policies that make refused asylum seekers destitute. As a society we have international moral and legal responsibilities to welcome those fleeing adversity from other parts of the world and provide social security. But the threat of destitution is being used as a way of pressuring refused asylum seekers to leave the country. There are many asylum seekers who have their cases refused but have no safe route to return or whose travel documents cause logistical problems for removal. There are also many cases where people are unjustly refused asylum. All those within our borders - including asylum seekers - should have the opportunity to help themselves and society through paid employment. Where this is not possible asylum seekers, whatever their status, should be given the necessary rights to 'food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services' (UN Declaration of Human Rights). Refused asylum seekers are still human, and deserve to be treated the same, as we would expect if we had to flee to another country. We should offer the respect to our neighbours that we expect ourselves. This is at the heart of the Christian faith, and of many other religions. We therefore call on the Government allow asylum seekers to sustain themselves and contribute to wider society through paid work, and where this is not possible, to re-instate 'refused' asylum seekers' entitlement to benefits until such time as they may be removed. -- During the first week of Advent (27 November- 4 December) supporters are being challenged to live as destitute asylum seekers - on a basic food parcel and £5 for one week, to organise a vigil, fast or other public events on World Migration Day (3 December). Early next year a delegation of church leaders will take all the campaign cards to a meeting with the Home Office. There will also be 'Poverty Hearings' across the country, for those affected to speak directly about their experiences to politicians, other opinion formers and the media. Anne Forbes, Chair of CAP said: "As a society we have international moral and legal responsibilities to provide subsistence for asylum seekers. It is an international disgrace that the UK Government allows some asylum seekers to end up destitute. There has been a groundswell amongst Christians that this is unacceptable and we expect church leaders to get behind our campaign." For more information see:
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