Skip to Navigation

British Red Cross destitution services help over 8,000 asylum seekers in 2017, UNHCR calls on UK to resettle more refugees

Date of Publication: 
7 August 2017

Red Cross supports thousands of refugees and asylum seekers in first half of the year

British Red Cross destitution services help over 8,000 asylum seekers in 2017, UNHCR calls on UK to resettle more refugees

07 August 2017

The British Red Cross said last week that its destitution services helped more than 8,800 refugees and asylum seekers in the first half of 2017.

The charity's destitution services provides food, clothing and small amounts of emergency cash to refugees and asylum seekers living in poverty.

Alex Fraser, director of refugee support at the British Red Cross, was quoted as saying: "These figures show that refugees and asylum seekers frequently continue to suffer even after reaching a safe country.

"Families who have been forced to flee unimaginable situations in countries such as Eritrea or Syria are left reliant, often for significant periods of time, on charity for food, clothing, and other basics needed to survive.

"Against the backdrop of a global refugee crisis which shows no signs of slowing down, it is essential that people seeking protection are able to live with dignity and not destitution. The UK can and should do better than this."

The Liverpool Echo reported on Saturday that Liverpool is facing problems with asylum seekers who travel to the city to lodge a final appeal and may end up destitute if their appeal is rejected.

Councillor Paul Brant told the Liverpool Echo: "Liverpool is one of the few destinations where we process the final appeals for asylum claims and where people have been rejected it means they are then classified as having no recourse to public funds. The position of the local authority is that if they are then rough sleeping because they have no income, we are banned from helping them."

Brant said the Government needs to relax the rules on how failed asylum seekers can be supported.

"You need to give us additional support and finances so that we can deal with them, or deal with them yourselves - because this is a national government problem. Don't just dump the problem here in Liverpool and leave us to pick up the pieces - but ban us from dealing with the problem," Brant said.

Meanwhile, Volker Türk, the UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, told the Press Association last week that the UK should increase the amount of refugees it takes in under resettlement programmes.

The UK Government has committed to resettle 20,000 refugees fleeing the Syrian war by the year 2020.

Türk said he had met with Government ministers and had good discussions about what the UK could do after 2020.

"The Government is open to discussing this and to learn the lessons from what is ongoing at the moment. We hope very much that there will be a regular resettlement programme by Britain past 2020 in significant numbers," Türk told the Press Association.

"I think we have to be very honest about the need for countries to contribute and to step up," Türk added.

Türk also praised the response of communities which had already received refugees and said he was very encouraged by their reaction.

"I'm so amazed when I hear about rural areas in Britain that actually they are so happy that people come to them and it almost revives parts of Britain," he said.