Refugee Council response to quarterly asylum statistics published today - Refugee Council
August 27, 2009

Refugee Council response to quarterly asylum statistics published today

In response to the 2nd quarterly asylum statistics out today, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“We must make sure that the focus on strengthening Britain’s borders does not prevent people fleeing for their lives from getting to safety here in the UK. These figures show that asylum numbers remain low. However, looking at the top countries of origin for asylum seekers – Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka – these are all countries torn apart by conflict or with terrible human rights records.

“Despite the low numbers, the government is freezing support rates for those who can’t return, and cutting rates for single adults from October, reducing the amount of money they are given to live on to a tiny £35 per week. This is a shade over half of the level of income support, which is set at the amount the government says a person needs to live on. This is disgraceful, especially considering asylum seekers are not allowed to work, so they are unable even to support themselves.

“The figures also show that 265 young people had their age disputed in the second quarter of this year. Earlier this year, the government cut the funding used to support these young people, many of whom turn out to be children. Without this, there is a serious risk that tens, if not hundreds, of children could end up in the adult system, unsupported and alone, and we urge the government to make urgent provision to ensure these young people are protected.

“These are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Sadly, government policy seems to be harsher on people getting here, harsher once they are here. We should be proud to be able to offer people fleeing persecution a place of safety.”