The Refugee Council's response to David Blunkett's speech at the Labour Party Conference

03 Oct 2001

Refugee Council statement

Nick Hardwick, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

"We cautiously welcome the statement made today by David Blunkett, committing the government to making radical improvements to the current system. For far too long asylum seekers have been forced to live way below the poverty line; stigmatised and vilified.

"What we now need to see is action. Asylum vouchers must be replaced by cash. Local authorities and the voluntary sector must be properly resourced to provide the necessary care and support for refugees.

"We welcome the commitment to end the use of prisons for detaining asylum seekers who have not committed a crime.

"We also welcome the proposals to introduce a managed migration system. We hope this will include allowing asylum seekers the right to work. However, part of creating a truly fair system includes informing the public about why refugees are forced to leave their country. The crisis in Afghanistan is a stark reminder why Britain must play an active role in protecting people fleeing persecution."

ENDS