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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Britain Leaves Asylum Seekers To Starve, Shows No Sympathy

Britain has no sympathy for asylum seekers as thousands of them spend years living in abject poverty on the streets of the English country after fleeing persecution in their own countries, an independent asylum inquiry has heard.

Senior lawyers, doctors and immigration officials told a former High Court judge and the Independent Asylum Commission chairman Sir John Waite that asylum seekers have no access to help from the state as they have not been granted asylum, yet they prefer to stay in Britain rather than return home because of the fear of being tortured or killed.

They claimed before the inquiry, which will report to the government next year, that such destitution is being used by the British Government as a policy in an attempt to force desperate people out of the country.

At least 280,000 people are living in poverty in Britain after having their leave to remain refused. Some of them are appealing those decisions. Some just go completely underground, taking their chances on the streets of the UK with no money or shelter, the Independent reported.

Only a few have access to the health care that UN legislation said they have a right to.

Sir John Waite said, ''I think it's a serious omission that we haven't looked earlier at this very pressing problem.

There is a significant element of the population subsisting while awaiting hearings or asylum claims, especially after rejection. And some of them are suffering serious hardship either because they don't understand the system or because the system fails them.'' The Commission met last week in Manchester to hear evidence from immigration experts as well as direct testimonies from those who had experienced the struggle of surviving in the UK first-hand.

Financial support is cut off after 21 days for those without children whose asylum case has been rejected. Immigration experts have called this a ''deliberate tool'' to rush people out of the country, often before enough evidence has been collated to ensure the safety of their return.

Chief Executive of Refugee Action Sandy Buchan condemned the country's treatment of failed asylum seekers.

''It seems the Government is using destitution as an instrument of policy. It's very much a deliberate tool of government. It's morally unacceptable to force people into utter destitution, and the most desperate and degrading circumstances when people are frightened of what awaits them when they return home,'' he said, adding that destitution is an unworkable policy that has completely failed to deliver on its objectives. (UNI

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