22 May 2007
The Church of England is joining calls for the Government to end the destitution of people refused asylum in Britain. The Still Human Still Here campaign highlights the plight of tens of thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK. The Archbishops' Council announced today that it is joining this coalition of church, refugee and asylum organisations.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, today said: "Refused asylum seekers are forced into abject poverty without permission to work or access to health care and education while they wait either to leave the UK or be granted leave to remain here." Bishop John gave evidence to the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust's 'Inquiry into Destitution among Refused Asylum Seekers' on destitution in Leeds. The Inquiry reported earlier this year.
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.
Last year, an ecumenical and interfaith report, Faithful Cities, on life in Britain's cities in the 21st century 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 campaign is a direct response to that recommendation. Other campaign partners include the Catholic Bishops Conference; Church Action on Poverty: Amnesty International UK and the Refugee Council.