Refugees Homeless

Refugees Left Destitute in the UK as a Result of Covid-19

Charities are warning that hundreds of refugees in the UK may have become destitute during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are concerns that the Home Office hasn’t acted quickly enough to the drop in support services caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Many asylum seekers who were granted refugee status in recent weeks have been evicted from asylum support accommodation as a result of their new refugee status.

Refugees have been left on their own to find housing, jobs and state benefit support at a time when Covid-19 has made these processes extremely difficult.

The Home Office announced on Friday that in response to Covid-19, individuals who have been granted refugee status would not be asked to leave asylum accommodation for the next three months. Whilst this decision is welcomed, it came too late for many.

Refugees have been left on their own to find housing, jobs and state benefit support at a time when Covid-19 has made these processes extremely difficult.

Charities believe that hundreds of refugees in the UK have been left without support and fallen into homelessness since the first restrictions were announced in response to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, because of the measures imposed by the government in response to Covid-19, charities who would normally have supported destitute refugees can no longer respond in the same way, which has left many refugees in helpless situations.

Unsurprisingly, it has proved extremely difficult for refugees to get the support they need after leaving asylum support accommodation.

The Independent spoke to an Iraqi national, Rebaz Amwar, who was granted refugee status in February. He was told that he could remain in accommodation, but that he would not receive any financial support (which is currently £37.75 per week for asylum seekers).

Mr Amwar said:

“Everything is difficult for me right now. I called the Jobcentre, I went to the building. Everywhere is closed…

I am happy to be granted refugee status. I was waiting for so long. The Home Office has now given it to me, but I have no money. My plan was to find a job, but I can’t find work now, and I can’t get any money from the Jobcentre. I can’t do anything.

I have no internet, no TV, no news, nothing. I can’t afford to pay for data on my phone. I would like to listen to BBC News because I would like to know what is going on with the coronavirus, but I can’t.”

“Completely Illogical”

Mr Amwar’s story is certainly not an isolated incident.

Hazel Williams, who is national director of Naccom, a network of members providing accommodation to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants labelled the government’s approach illogical and warned that large numbers of refugees were in very precarious situations.

Williams said:

“For almost two weeks the government has been advising people to stay at home, yet during this period they have also been evicting people from asylum support accommodation. It’s completely illogical.”

She went on to say that “the Home Office has been slow to respond… It’s common sense, this is a public health emergency, not a time to turf people out onto the streets.”

“For almost two weeks the government has been advising people to stay at home, yet during this period they have also been evicting people from asylum support accommodation. It’s completely illogical.” (Hazel Williams, national director of Naccom)

Williams explained that the problems which many refugees are facing have been compounded due to the closure of night shelters and other housing facilities.

Shouldn’t we be Protecting the Most Vulnearble?

Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Surely at this most unpredictable and worrying time, we must do all we can to protect the most vulnerable.

Refugee Homeless in UK
[Image credit: RT]

Leaving refugees to become destitute is not only heartless, but completely counter to the advice which has been given to us all over the past few weeks. This is not a time for confused and muddled approaches, it is a time for clarity and conviction.

Unfortunately, the government’s approach towards refugees has been anything but protective for many years. We can only hope that in this current crisis, priority will be given to what really matters; keeping the nation, and the people in it, as safe as possible.

[Main image credit: Independent]

Written by
Richard Ballout
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