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Migrant victims of domestic abuse without shelter

Restrictive immigration laws are resulting in denial of access to temporary Government accommodation

Tags: Human Rights Commission,  No Home from Home, Roisin Devlin, Sorcha McKenna

1st September 2009:
Migrant workers, subjected to domestic abuse, have been left shelter less. Investigations carried out by the NI Human Rights Commission has found restrictive immigration laws have led to denial of access to temporary Government accommodation.
It was also found the condition of foreign nationals forced to flee following racist attacks in Northern Ireland was hardly better, as they too had been denied access to state support
The commission’s `No Home from Home’ study found workers from other parts of Europe were being left out of the support system. On the other hand, the UK nationals and citizens from some EU countries automatically qualified for homeless assistance from the NI Housing Executive.
The report asserted the state provides emergency lodgings in case of an incident. But, immigrations rules make some non-UK nationals ineligible for medium term temporary housing for quite some time to follow.
As a result, some have taken refuge in charities, the commission report asserted.
Report’s co-author Roisin Devlin said for reaching the conclusion they interviewed a number of individuals in that situation. Their experiences included domestic violence, ill-health and racial intimidation. In many instances, they did not have access to the basic means of shelter or subsistence. Often charitable organisations were called upon for help because, under various laws, individuals were not entitled to state support.
Fellow author Sorcha McKenna said the staff within state agencies was often stopped from providing assistance by the regulations.
During this investigation it was found that immigration legislation severely restricted what each of the agencies could do to assist homeless non-UK nationals, she said.
The investigation found prevalence of good practice among the agency staff, but the report said there still was room for improvement, particularly in the area of training and inter agency co-operation.

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