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New refugee report focuses on destitution

3 February 2009

A woman examines baby clothes at a clothing bank for refugeesJonathan Banks/British Red CrossA new report by the British Red Cross and Refugee Survival Trust has asked for changes to the asylum process to reduce destitution among refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland.

The report –  entitled 21 Days Later – found that an average of £6,000-worth of grants are given to destitute refugees and asylum seekers every month in Scotland to help them pay for basic essentials, such as food, accommodation and clothing.

However, over the past five and a half years, almost 70 per cent of this money should have come from statutory agencies rather than charities.

Laurie Naumann, from the Refugee Survival Trust, said: “The report shows there are simple, yet key failures in the asylum support system that result in unnecessary destitution. Both adults and children, who have travelled thousands of miles to escape persecution, often find their nightmare continues as they face destitution in Scotland.”

Crucial period

The report, named after the three-week ‘move-on’ period given to those whose asylum application has been refused, demonstrates that those seeking sanctuary in the UK are most likely to experience destitution during this crucial 21-day period.

On a more positive note, the new report – designed to show how simple changes could improve the lives of hundreds of people living in Scotland – makes it clear that the situation is slowly improving, not least because the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) is taking more responsibility for cases at its Glasgow office.

Growing relationship

Phil Taylor, regional director of the UK Border Agency, said: “This report will make a positive contribution to our ongoing dialogue about asylum seekers and refugees stakeholders in Scotland.

“I look forward to working with the Red Cross and Refugee Survival Trust to resolve administrative issues that might cause disadvantage to asylum seekers and refugees. Together we’ll strive to make improvements to the asylum system wherever possible.”

Nick Scott-Flynn, head of British Red Cross refugee services, explained: “Our growing relationship with the UKBA is a step in the right direction and should be promoted throughout the UK as an example of how the voluntary and statutory sectors can work together to reduce destitution and improve the lives of hundreds of families who have already been through enough.”

Download a copy of the 21 Days Later report (pdf).

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