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What's Going On?: A study into destitution and poverty faced by asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland

What's Going On?: A study into destitution and poverty faced by asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland

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Published by Oxfam
An estimated 11,000 refugees currently live in Scotland. An increasing number of this population live in abject poverty and destitution. This paper examines the root causes of destitution among asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland and analyses their experiences to create a platform for action. The report identified three major causes of destitution among this group which includes administrative errors and procedural delays, government policy and circumstantial factors. Using a case-study approach and an extensive literature review, semi-structured questionnaires were administered in 20 interviews with individuals and families of asylum seekers and refugees living in poverty.
An estimated 11,000 refugees currently live in Scotland. An increasing number of this population live in abject poverty and destitution. This paper examines the root causes of destitution among asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland and analyses their experiences to create a platform for action. The report identified three major causes of destitution among this group which includes administrative errors and procedural delays, government policy and circumstantial factors. Using a case-study approach and an extensive literature review, semi-structured questionnaires were administered in 20 interviews with individuals and families of asylum seekers and refugees living in poverty.

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Published by: Oxfam on Apr 12, 2011
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01/11/2015

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What’s going on?” 
A study into destitution and povertyfaced by asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland
April 2005
A research project for the Refugee Survival Trustfunded by the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme
 
Foreword
The Refugee Survival Trust (RST) was started in 1996 to help destitutepeople seeking asylum in Scotland; those who had fallen victim to theharsh new legislation that left them with nothing and no-one to turn to. Atthat time, we were confident that the situation would soon improve andthat the Trust could slip off the horizon as quietly as it appeared. Sadlythough, things have not improved.We are now supporting more people than ever before and have a uniqueinsight into destitution among people seeking asylum. It is essential we use this insight to workwith others to tackle the root causes of destitution – and this research is our first step. We nowcall on the government, local authorities, the health service and voluntary organisations to workwith us on the recommendations detailed in this report to challenge the root causes of destitution among people seeking asylum in Scotland.
Kaliani Lyle Refugee Survival Trust
Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme welcomes this report. It documents thedevastating, hidden cost of the UK government's asylum policy. The hidden cost isthe human cost: poverty and destitution faced by some people who are seekingasylum in Scotland. The report highlights a key Oxfam concern - thatadministrative difficulties and asylum policies are causing destitution, suffering andmental and physical ill health.It is unacceptable that people seeking sanctuary in our country are going hungry. No one in theUK should face such suffering and insecurity; and it is of great concern that the administrationof UK policy is contributing to this.These daily effects are a symptom of the 'problematisation' of asylum, and the shift of thedebate from protection to exclusion. As well as administrative and policy solutions, politicalleadership is urgently needed to restore humanity and dignity to the asylum system in Scotlandand in the rest of the UK.
Audrey Bronstein, Programme Director, Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme
 UNHCR welcomes the report by the Refugee Survival Trust on destitution and asylum seekers inScotland. UNHCR is saddened at the destitution suffered bysome individuals who are seeking protection in the UnitedKingdom. The ability to seek protection under the 1951 RefugeeConvention may be seriously affected if no reasonable means of survival are made available.Being cold and hungry makes it difficult for individuals to accurately recount traumatic events.A lack of address may affect a person’s ability to maintain contact with the Home Office andlegal representatives. We hope the UK government and the Scottish Executive will take stepsto ensure that no needless hardship is suffered by those who are pursuing a claim for asylumand those who cannot return to countries UNHCR views are unsafe.Amnesty International welcomes this research, which for the firsttime documents in detail the causes and effects of destitutionamongst asylum seekers in Scotland.It is deeply alarming that it reveals government administrative errors and delays in governmentpolicy as the major causes of destitution. This provides more evidence that the punitive focuson deterrence in recent UK asylum policy is having a detrimental effect on the well-being of asylum seekers and undermining people¹s right to protection.There is an urgent need for a fair asylum procedure in which all asylum applicants have theircases considered fairly and are treated with dignity while they await a decision. Thegovernment must focus resources on good quality initial decision making to avoid puttingpeople through the suffering, hardship and despair faced by many of those documented in thisresearch.
Rosemary Burnett, Programme Director for Amnesty International Scotland
 

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