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Thousands of refugees to have support withdrawn

Michael C | 24.11.2002 22:47 | Anti-racism | Globalisation | Migration


Withdrawal of Support for "In-Country" Asylum Applicants

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act will come into force on the 8th of January 2003. Much has been made of the controversial plans for forcing asylum seekers and their children to live in remote Accommodation Centres, but the most serious infringements of human rights have been sidelined by the mainstream media.

New Labour's new Act, which has been described as worse than any immigration legislation dreamt up by the Conservatives, threatens to leave thousands of asylum seekers homeless and destitute.

In July this year the government removed the concession to work for asylum seekers, forcing people to survive on below poverty-level handouts and to live in difficult to let housing estates. From January 8th, even this housing and support will be withdrawn from applicants who do not make a claim for asylum “as soon as reasonably practicable” after arrival.

The onus will be on the asylum seeker to prove that a claim was made "as soon as reasonably practicable". The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has issued no guidance as to the definition of "reasonably practicable", or what evidence will be required to prove this.

The only exceptions to this rule will be families with dependent children, people with "special needs" (undefined) and people claiming asylum "in-country" as a result of upheaval in their home country, so long as they can prove they made their claim as soon as possible after the change in circumstances.

There will be no right of appeal against a decision to withhold support.

It would appear that when the Act is implemented, most in-country asylum seekers will be excluded from NASS support. Although families with children will receive support, it appears that pregnant women will not qualify.

NASS predicts that around 100 applicants will be excluded from support every day. Refugee support organisations believe the figure is likely to be far higher.

The Act was rushed through parliament with little time allowed for debate. In the end, the only concession was over the planned large-scale rural accommodation centres.

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights identified 22 possible breaches of human rights legislation. In time there may be legal challenges on these grounds, but meanwhile, from the 8th of January 2003, thousands of people each month, people who have fled persecution, war, and poverty, will be left to fend for themselves, homeless and destitute, with no support from the state.

These measures, along with the re-instatement of the notorious "white-list" of countries from where no asylum application will be entertained, is part of David Blunkett's plan for a "firmer and fairer" asylum system.

It is an attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, denying them the most basic of the human rights

Michael C
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Hide the following 3 comments

link for action

25.11.2002 11:02

Link to Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers:

- Homepage:

Same old same old

27.11.2002 01:02

While this is vile, it's basically business as usual for most asylum seekers; NASS is such a unique combination of incompetence and spite that a massive percentage of its supposed clients don't receive any support, anyway. Either the claim takes months to process, is mysteriously "lost" or claimants have their support terminated as a result of administrative incompetence- and then wait for months for it to be reinstated.

Last week, NASS evicted dozens of asylum seekers from Emergency Accommodation it has been providing in Birmingham, purely becuse it's too incompetent to organise long-term accommodation. The fuckwits decided that, because the refugees weren't in when NASS staff called unnanounced, they were obviously either working or had moved elsewhere. Letters were left advising destitute claimants to go to the local office of the Refugee Council- who were unable to provide any meaningful form of support.

Ironically, the reason a great deal of the claimants weren't at "home", staring at the walls, when the NASS muppets arrived, is because they were attending English classes. In the Refugee Council's office!


Far from business as usual

04.12.2002 14:35

Jay B, I know what you mean about NASS being shite, but this is far from business as usual.

I think that you are underestimating the ramifications of this new legislation. The NASS system that you describe is an example of a deliberately shite system, designed to fail.

Quite rightly, you mention the fact that many applicants have to wait months for their NASS applications to be processed. During this time, they are entitled to emergency accommodation, and £5.00 per person per day. Sometimes this system gets fucked-up. Now, the support system is to be withdrawn completely for thousands of asylum seekers.

From January 8th, all applicants will have to wait until NASS confirms that their asylum applications were made “as soon as reasonably practicable”. There will be 10 NASS staff in Croydon processing at least 100 of these applications each day. Until they are processed, the applicants will have no access to emergency accommodation, and no money. If they are rejected, they will never get any support or housing, and there is no appeal against this decision. They will be left to fend for themselves.

The new measures go way beyond business as usual. Three thousand people every month denied any kind of support or housing, banned from working and from claiming benefits.

This is an attack on basic human rights, and so, an attack on us all. The question is – what are we going to do about it?

For more details, see:
The Refugee Council's briefing on the measure, go to the
following link:

To read the Refugee Council’s response to the measure, click on the
following link:

michael c
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