accessibility & help

British Red Cross report calls for an end to destitute refugees and asylum seekers

Wednesday 16th June 2010

For further information please contact

Henry Makiwa

Telephone: 020 7877 7479/ out of hours 07659 145 095


The British Red Cross will today (16 June 2010) launch its advocacy report which highlights the dire hardships facing destitute asylum seekers and the urgent need for a more humane asylum system.

At a lunchtime event at London’s Borough market, the British Red Cross will make public the report titled Not gone, but forgotten: The urgent need for a more humane asylum system. The report highlights the charity’s work supporting refused asylum seekers in the United Kingdom, and the challenges they face on a daily basis. It also explores the human experiences of asylum seekers made destitute by the current asylum process and proposes changes.   

The report’s findings show that under current policy, many refused asylum seekers survive on only one meal a day, are unable to work to support themselves, are homeless and rely on handouts from charities like the Red Cross to survive.

Nick Young, the British Red Cross chief executive said: “Our report shows that current policy is making thousands of refused asylum seekers destitute. As a humanitarian organisation, we are very concerned about the large number of refused asylum seekers that come to us, relying on Red Cross food parcels and the basics for survival, such as sleeping bags and clothes.  

“The British Red Cross believes that anyone who comes to this country fleeing persecution and applies for asylum should be treated in a way that maintains their dignity until they are granted leave to remain or are removed from the UK. Making asylum seekers homeless, withdrawing support and often forcing them to go underground to take on illegal work and risking exploitation, does not meet with these standards and is actually counterproductive.”

Tinashe Tembo*, an asylum seeker and former accountant, who was forced to flee his native Zimbabwe as a result of political persecution, has been getting support from the British Red Cross to provide for himself and family as a result of his state of destitution.

He said: “I have a wife and two young boys who make my heart bleed each time I look at them and realise I cannot provide for them like a father should. We are faced with uncertainty through each day and we survive on the goodwill of friends for a roof over our head; and charities like the Red Cross for food and clothing.”

The British Red Cross supports the following changes to the asylum system:
• The adoption of the principle that destitution should not be an outcome of the asylum system
• The provision of support for all destitute refused asylum seekers with dependent children
• An end-to-end asylum support structure, including permission to work, until the applicant is either removed or granted leave to remain
• An entitlement to healthcare throughout the asylum process until removal or granted leave to remain

The Canon of Westminster, Nicholas Sagovsky will speak at the launch event, while celebrated television chef, Anjum Anand will cook an Afghan curry and discuss the importance of nutritious food in maintaining physical health.

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Notes to editors
 For interviews or more information contact Henry Makiwa on 02078777479 or 07877499038, out of hours 07659 145 095
 The multi-media aspects of Look Beyond the Label campaign comprise of an e-mailable video, while a sharable the Facebook app can be found here:

 * not his real name

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.