People refused asylum experiencing destitution, research finds

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There are calls for more support for people refused asylum in Scotland, with many struggling to feed themselves, according to a new report.

The Scottish Refugee Council said there were accounts of “shocking levels” of destitution among the vulnerable group.

It is calling for a national action plan to tackle asylum and migrant destitution in Scotland.

It follows research coordinated by the Glasgow-based Destitute Asylum Seeker Service (DASS), which recorded the experiences of those who have been refused asylum and are at risk of destitution, thought to number around 1,000 in Scotland.

These people are not permitted to work and are not eligible for most benefits.

The report calls for action to make sure their need for food and shelter is met.

Graham O’Neill, policy officer at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “It’s an urgent human rights concern that so many people in Scotland are forced into this situation.

“This research shows that people who are refused asylum are blocked from having their basic needs met.

“There are practical measures we can take in Scotland to help people find a way out of destitution and resolve their legal situation.

“The top priority is making sure people have accommodation, as without that it is very difficult for someone to be safe and make decisions about their future.”

Cath McGee, DASS project manager at the Refugee Survival Trust said: “When basic needs are not met people can’t make progress with their legal case.

“People who are made destitute have to focus their time and energy on the day-to-day struggle of finding their next meal and a place to sleep so are unable to concentrate on progressing their legal claim for protection.

“Very quickly, people become trapped and finding a route out of destitution becomes increasingly difficult as their mental and physical health deteriorates.”

Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: “Asylum seekers, many of whom have endured great hardship and are particularly vulnerable, should be treated with dignity and respect at every stage of the asylum process.

“That includes at the end of the asylum process.  People should not end up homeless and destitute in a country where they have sought refuge.

“The Scottish Government is committed to developing an anti-destitution strategy.

“People’s lived experience is crucial to informing our approach to tackling destitution, so we welcome this research as a valuable contribution to inform the anti-destitution strategy.

“The Homelessness and Rough sleeping action group recognised the difficulty in ending rough sleeping in Scotland when people who are destitute might not have many other options.

“Asylum and immigration are reserved matters and the Scottish Government calls on the UK Government to address the issue of asylum destitution immediately so we can end rough sleeping.”

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