Red Cross to propose key changes to asylum system

87 per cent asylum seekers often survive on a meal a day


14th July 2010:
Highlighting the plight of destitute asylum seekers in the UK, the Red Cross says thousands of them currently live in severe poverty. To make the matters worse 25 per cent of the British talked to in a survey believed asylum seekers came to Britain to claim benefits.
With this, the Red Cross is expected to propose changes in the asylum system through a new destitution report to be launched during Refugee Week.

Not in a position to work or support themselves, many of the asylum seekers struggle for even food and shelter. In fact, 87 per cent often survive on only one meal a day.

The assertion has once again brought to focus the demand for allowing them to work. Only about a week ago, Home secretary Theresa May was asked to let asylum seekers work.

Equality South West’s Deputy Chief Executive Katie Pratt, in fact, wrote to the new home secretary to let asylum seekers work.

Describing asylum seekers as “among the most vulnerable people in the UK”, Pratt asserted they fled persecution in their own countries looking for a place of safety.

Reacting to the alarming situation, the Red Cross says something must be done to end the risk of destitution among this vulnerable group.

As a part of its initiative, this year `Look Beyond the Label’ campaign features a new video introduced by celebrities Dougray Scott, Karen David and Stephen K Amos. It shows how the basic aspects of day to day living – going to work, having a meal, going to bed – can present a huge challenge for asylum seekers. The video urges people to vote for an end to destitution among asylum seekers.

The Red Cross is also launching a new destitution report during Refugee Week. It proposes key changes to the asylum system and underscores the worrying findings of their new ICM survey.

After surveying over 2,000 people, what emerged were conflicting opinions and a lack of knowledge among the British public about the legal definition of asylum.

As many as 89 per cent correctly defined asylum seekers as those fleeing persecution in their own country, but one in four of those asked still believed they came to Britain to claim benefits.

Fifty-seven per cent also thought asylum seekers were given up to £100 worth of vouchers each week to cover living expenses. In reality, they receive accommodation and vouchers equaling just £35 a week, while refused asylum seekers receive no support at all.       

Nick Scott-Flynn, head of refugee services, said: “There are thousands of people whose lives are in limbo, unable to work and provide for themselves. We’re urging the British public to witness and acknowledge their plight – and take action to end this state of poverty and deprivation.”

British are welcoming, believe asylum seekers

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