Birmingham Asylum and Refugee Association (BARA) has launched a petition asking the Birmingham City Council to pass a motion opposing destitution and supporting the right of asylum seekers to work.
“The UK’s asylum system is riven with a culture of cynicism and disbelief. Legal aid is ever harder to come by, meaning that people who have frequently experienced severe and prolonged human rights abuses in their countries of origin struggle to find competent legal representation to support their asylum claims,” says the petition.
Once an asylum application has been rejected, the Home Office terminates the support allowance, leaving the applicant destitute.
“While the Home Office’s position is simply that people refused asylum should accept their fates and return voluntarily to their countries of origin, the plain fact is that, in all too many instances, this is simply impossible,” says the petition.
Last year the Birmingham Asylum and Refugee Association (BARA) held a rally in the city centre to demand dignity, not destitution for asylum seekers.
The petition urges the Birmingham City Council to pass a motion against destitution in Birmingham, noting that such motions have been passed in many other British cities, including Bristol, Leeds, Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester amongst others.
“We come here not for benefits but for our safety, security, respect for our human rights and human dignity. We are made to feel like criminals here just for claiming asylum, and we are made homeless and destitute in the mistaken belief that it will stop others from seeking asylum here,” says the petition. “Leaving your roots, home, family and friends are not easy things to do and we would not do this if we were safe. We want what everyone wants: freedom to speak, live and work and to be treated like the human beings that we are.”