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The number of homeless and destitute asylum-seekers on a rise: refugee charities


The number of inquiries from destitute asylum-seekers has doubled since 2008

06 September 2009: Just about two months after a report suggested the government’s new asylum model has only led to increased levels of destitution among the homeless and destitute asylum-seekers, another report confirms a sharp rise in their number.

The refugee charities insist they are struggling to meet the demand; and at some places the number of inquiries from destitute asylum-seekers has, in fact, doubled since 2008.

Refugee Action says even the number of visits from destitute asylum-seekers has almost doubled in a year at their centres in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool. Statistically speaking, the centers had 1,699 contacts from penniless asylum-seekers between April and June 2008. For the corresponding period in 2009, the number shot up to 3,082.

It is believed cities like Glasgow, Manchester, Leicester and Nottingham are swamped with asylum-seekers, who are no longer supported by the state as the benefits are withdrawn after their asylum applications are rejected. Though one in four subsequently succeed in their appeals, the process can take a long time. During the period hey struggle to support themselves, and many are forced to take to the streets.

The chief executive of Refugee Action Sandy Buchan says the disturbing increase in destitution across the country is affecting people at all stages of the asylum process. The Home Office should be applauded for speeding up the process, but at the same time it has to be property managed as it can leave people with marginal time to lodge an appeal and seek the assistance of a solicitor, Buchan adds.

It is believed the new asylum process aimed at speeding up applications is partly to be blamed for the phenomenon, as it leaves little time and support to find legal representation.

The Home Office, on the other hand, insists it provides measures to ensure that individuals are not destitute.
The issue of destitution was only recently raised in a report, "Still Destitute", by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. It found destitution resulting from the new asylum model increased by a third since last year.

The report, bringing to the fore the human cost of Government failure to manage the asylum system, said more than a third of refused asylum-seekers had been destitute for over a year; many were suffering mental illness and malnutrition as a result.
It 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, had asserted an urgent solution was required, which did not award refugee status to people technically not qualified for it. But, at the same time, it gave them limited leave to remain, and their cases reviewed periodically.

By Monika

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