`Asylum policy not only barbaric, but also ineffective’

`Generous state handouts not the reason for choosing UK’
Primary objective is to reach place of safety.

14th January 2010: Insensitive and unsympathetic policies designed to make Britain a less welcoming place for the asylum seekers are not only barbaric, but also ineffective — a new report suggests.

Refugees have little choice over which country they claim asylum in, with “agents” taking the decisions on their behalf; they come to the UK to escape conflict; and no amount of barbaric policy-making will influence their decision, independent research published by the Refugee Council (RC) reveals.

The report in no uncertain terms says the measures, immigration minister Phil Woolas promised when he joined the Home Office in 2008, have proved worthless.

Giving details, RC chief executive Donna Covey says the research shows the main reason asylum seekers come here is to escape conflict, and no amount of barbaric policy-making will influence whether they come here or not.

The report, `Chance Or Choice: Understanding Why Asylum Seekers Come To The UK’, by Professor Heaven Crawley of Swansea University, south Wales, is based on interviews with asylum seekers and refugees.

It apparently demystifies a number of widespread myths, including the notion that asylum seekers are attracted to the UK because of generous state handouts. The primary objective is reaching a place of safety.

The report asserts three quarters of asylum seekers, talked to, had no knowledge of welfare benefits and support before coming to the UK. A substantial number of them had no expectation that they would be given financial support once they arrived here.

Over two-thirds here did not choose the UK as a destination and few knew what to expect before they arrived. A total of 90 per cent were working in their country of origin and few were aware they would not be allowed to work when they arrived in the UK.

The report says most fleeing their country did so in haste as their lives were in danger. A substantial number were helped to leave the country by an external party or agent, who made the key decisions about their destination and helped facilitate their journey to safety. The single biggest area of British life that those interviewed are familiar with is football.

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