Churches welcome enquiry into destitution of people seeking asylum

 An independent inquiry into destitution amongst people refused asylum has exposed the 'appalling and inhumane' conditions created in Leeds by Government policy. The Inquiry, chaired by Kate Adie, and including Conservative Vice chair Sayeeda Warsi and writer Julian Baggini, is called 'Moving on: From destitution to contribution' and was launched yesterday at the House of Commons. The inquiry is based on a survey of people refused asylum living in Leeds where researchers found that 1 in 4 had slept rough and a third had been destitute for a year or more. Many were suffering grave social and health problems and some were wrestling with thoughts of suicide. Revd Canon Kathryn Fitzsimons, Urban Officer for the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, said: "It is Christians and churches that are picking up the pieces from the Government's policy. We have ended up providing the food, friendship, and shelter for the people refused asylum. This report exposes the desperate detail of how vulnerable people are left destitute." Niall Cooper, National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, says: "The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust inquiry is another expose of how Government policy is pushing thousands of people in abject poverty. For the last few years our Living Ghosts campaign has been seeking to ensure the principle of "work for those who can, support for those who can't" should include all people on these islands, which includes people refused asylum. We are pleased that such a considered and respected Inquiry as this has called on the Government to "provide a revocable license to work pending asylum decision and up to the point where people refused asylum can realistically return home."

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