New asylum model increasing levels of destitution: study

Over a third of refused asylum-seekers have been destitute for over a year

15th July 2009: The government’s new asylum model is just not working; and has only led to increased levels of destitution among them, says a study.

A recent report, "Still Destitute", by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has found destitution resulting from the new asylum model has rather increased by a third since last year.

The report, bringing to the fore the human cost of Government failure to manage the asylum system, says more than a third of refused asylum-seekers have now been destitute for over a year; many are suffering mental illness and malnutrition as a result.

It has also found two-thirds of those found destitute come from extremely troubled countries, and return passage often cannot be arranged.

Mr. Peter Coltman, a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, says an urgent solution is required, which does not award refugee status to people technically not qualified for it. But, at the same time, it should give them limited leave to remain, and their cases reviewed periodically, if they cannot be returned.

He has also says they should be allowed to work, along with access to healthcare facilities and proper legal representation at all times.

Once the basics are taken care of, a genuinely "new asylum model" must be created, which treats people humanely, and is appropriate to the needs of refugees, the conditions in developing countries and the social health of the UK, he says.

While admitting that the Britain is committed by international treaty to allow those fleeing persecution to apply for asylum, Mr. Coltman said the system in the very first place has made it increasingly difficult from them to enter Britain and claim asylum. Those managing to get in, come across a flawed decision-making process, which refuses about 80 per cent of applicants. As such, the real issue for policy makers is how far, or how well, this commitment can be addressed.

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