Author: Sarah Mac Donald
Research showed refugees attending the JRS centre showed that 62 per cent of them had been street homeless within the previous 12 months
The director of the Jesuit Refugee Service has hit out at the asylum process in Britain describing it as “deeply and profoundly flawed” and warning that it is pushing people into destitution.
In her address at the National Justice and Peace Network conference in Derbyshire, former Lib Dem Minister, Sarah Teather said “deliberate cruelty” has become “a tool of government policy” on refugees in order to try and “get people to give up their claim for shelter”.
The UK receives around 30,000 asylum applicants a year. “It is a tiny number. Very few people actually make it here to claim asylum but those who do make it have a very difficult time,” Ms Teather said.
The JRS director stressed that “everyone faces the same hermeneutic of suspicion” and things become “really difficult” if the government doesn’t recognise someone as a refugee.
A whole web of policies aimed at making life really difficult for those seeking asylum come into play including enforced destitution, diminished access to legal aid, the criminalisation of work, and forcing people like landlords to report on those who doesn’t have immigration status.
Recent research carried out by JRS into those who attend their day centre showed that 62 per cent of them had been street homeless within the previous 12 months. Some of them were street homeless for extended periods of time but many were sporadically homeless, moving around from sofa to sofa of friends.
Some 40 per cent of those whose applications for refugee status are turned down initially, have those decisions overturned on appeal. “That gives you some sense of how bad the initial decision-making is,” Ms Teather said.