Shame of Refugees Forced to Sleep on Streets; EVICTION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

The Mirror (London, England), November 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Shame of Refugees Forced to Sleep on Streets; EVICTION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS


Byline: MARK BROWN

IF ever we needed proof that the Government's asylum policy is inhumane, it can be found on our doorsteps in Scotland.

On the orders of the Home Office, Glasgow City Council has served 167 eviction notices on asylum seekers whose applications have been refused.

That means hundreds of men, women and children are faced with the choice of returning to the countries from which they fled, or sleeping rough on the streets of Scotland.

Asylum charities estimate that, once the initial backlog of cases is cleared, evictions will go on at a rate of ten per week.

The Home Office claims that every asylum seeker whose application is refused is safe to return to their country of origin.

Yet Home Secretary David Blunkett is trying to send refugees to Afghanistan - a country recognised as being run by warlords and drug dealers.

He is also attempting to force people back to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, despite there being no safe route into the country.

Last year, only public and international pressure forced Blunkett to back down from his policy of deporting pro-democracy activists back to Zimbabwe to face the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.

Despite this terrible record, the Home Office is pressing ahead with the policy of evicting people in order to try to force them to leave Britain.

In a statement of astonishing callousness, the Home Office says asylum seekers evicted by Glasgow City Council are "free to leave the country at any time".

We are now faced with the appalling prospect of people being forced to sleep on our streets rather than return to persecution.

Glasgow City Council pathetically claims its "hands are tied" over the evictions, as it is the Home Office which decides on evictions.

It's more a case of washing its hands of asylum seekers. The council has criticised the Blair government's policies on asylum (such as separate education of asylum seekers' children) in the past.

Now, when it really matters, they should be standing up to the Home Office and refusing to carry out the evictions.

This is the first time in over a century that a British government has introduced a measure designed to lead to destitution. …

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