C of E joins asylum campaign

By staff writers
22 May 2007

The Church of England is joining a campaign which is calling for the Government to end the destitution of people refused asylum in Britain.

The Archbishops' Council announced today that it is joining the Still Human Still Here campaign, a coalition of church, refugee and asylum organisations.

The campaign seeks to highlight the plight of tens of thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK.

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."

The Bishop gave evidence to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation'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.

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