Church Challenges Government over Failed Asylum Seekers

The Church of England has called for the Government to end the destitution of failed asylum seekers.

Published 22 May 2007
The Church of England is joining calls for the Government to end the destitution of people refused asylum in Britain.

The Archbishops' Council revealed its intention today to join the 'Still Human Still Here' campaign, run by a coalition of church, refugee and asylum organisations to highlight the plight of thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, today said: "Refused asylum seekers are forced into abject poverty without permission to work or access to healthcare and education while they wait either to leave the UK or be granted leave to remain here."

Bishop Packer previously gave evidence to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's 'Inquiry into Destitution among Refused Asylum Seekers' on destitution in Leeds.

While returning refused asylum seekers to their country of origin has become a politicised question, the Still Human Still Here campaign recognises that immediate repatriation is sometimes not an enforceable or humane option, leaving families in an uncertain situation, without support, through no fault of their own.

The campaign is calling on the Government to end the threat and use of destitution as a tool of Government policy against refused asylum seekers, and is lobbying for asylum seekers to receive financial support and accommodation, as well as permission to work in the UK until they leave or have been given permission to remain

Last year, an ecumenical and interfaith report, Faithful Cities, took a closer look at life in Britain's cities in the 21st century and recommended that "asylum seekers should be allowed to sustain themselves and contribute to society through paid work. It is unacceptable to use destitution as a tool of coercion when dealing with 'refused' asylum seekers".

Joining the Still Human Still Here campaign is a direct response to that recommendation, the Church of England said. Other campaign partners include the Catholic Bishops Conference, Church Action on Poverty, Amnesty International UK and the Refugee Council.

The Still Human Still Here website can be found at: www.stillhuman.org.uk/

The Faithful Cities report can be seen at: www.culf.org/

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