Last week more than 20 people in Oxford joined others across the country to fast in solidarity with Asylum Seekers who are kept destitute by Government Policy. This protest was organised through Asylum Welcome to raise awareness of this disgraceful situation and to raise money through sponsorship to help those who are destitute.
Since 8 January 2003, asylum-seekers who are judged by the Home Office to have failed to make their application for asylum quickly enough get no support at all. And they are not allowed to work.
Between July and September 2810 people nationally were put in this position, almost one fifth of those applying. In addition others are made destitute because their support has been terminated in error, or because they have lost their claim. In some cases it is too dangerous for them to be returned to their country. The situation in Congo, for instance, is so bad that the Government hasn't sent anyone back there for the last twelve months.
Keeping people destitute is deliberate Government policy. David Blunkett argues that it makes nonsense of the asylum application procedure if people are allowed to work while applying for asylum or once their application has failed. But if in practice they are allowed to remain, whatever the reason, we believe that making absolutely no provision for their support is:
• Socially irresponsible
• Undermining Britain's claim to be a civilised country.
Locally Asylum Welcome receives between 25 and 40 visits a month from asylum-seekers who are destitute. In cases of the greatest need they make emergency grants of £30 or give a box of food valued at £10. They are acutely aware that this is not enough. But it is all they can manage. There is no official funding to cover this situation.
What can you do ?
Send a donation to Asylum Welcome, Charity no. 1092265
276 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1UR Tel 01865-722082
Or write to your MP and ask David Blunkett, The Home Secretary to change this disgraceful piece of legislation.