14 October 2015
In response to the decision by councillors in Portsmouth to request that the city be removed from the list of dispersal areas for asylum seekers, Alex Fraser, Head of Refugee Support at the British Red Cross said:
“This is a real step backwards for a city which has such a proud history of offering protection to those fleeing persecution, especially at a time when worldwide, more people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict since the Second World War.
“We need councils across the UK to step up, not close their doors.
“While the Red Cross recognises that many local authorities face considerable financial pressures, it is unfair and misleading to attribute this to asylum seekers, when accommodation and support costs are met by the Home Office and the number of asylum seekers dispersed to Portsmouth is small, compared to national levels.
“We would urge Portsmouth City Council to focus its energy on encouraging the UK Government to work with local authorities across the country to make sure they feel adequately supported in helping refugees settle in their areas – in doing so, ensuring that Britain lives up to its humanitarian obligations.”
Notes to editors
- For more information or interviews, call Anna MacSwan on 0207 877 7519 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The entire South East region takes only 1.6 per cent of the total number of asylum seekers - in Quarter 1 this year, 493 of a total of 30,304 asylum seekers nationally. Compared to the national number, Portsmouth takes just 0.45 per cent of asylum seekers.
- Dispersal areas are towns and cities where people seeking protection through the asylum system are sent to by the Home Office. Asylum seekers are able to live in those areas and access local services and support as they navigate their way through the UK’s turbulent asylum system.