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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 02:02 GMT 03:02 UK
Refugee scholars 'benefit the UK'
Eighteen of CARA's scholars have become Nobel Prize laureates
The government is being far too negative in its treatment of refugees, an ex-chief government scientist says.

Biochemist Dr John Ashworth said ministers should do more to make people aware of the benefits which skilled refugees can bring to Britain.

Dr Ashworth, president of the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, said "waves" of scholars had come to the UK.

Since the council was founded in 1933, 18 of its scholars have become Nobel Prize laureates.

Policy attack

Mr Ashworth, speaking at CARA's annual meeting at London's South Bank University, said: "If one examines the contribution of many refugees that have professional qualifications, one sees that they are an asset and will be crucial in addressing areas of skill shortage.

"The government should be saying this loudly and clearly."

Mr Ashworth first criticised the government's policies on asylum two years ago when he attacked Home Secretary David Blunkett's proposed reforms under the National, Immigration and Asylum Bill, as it was then known.

CARA, which has dealt with a record 225 inquiries in the past year, has established a committee of refugee academics in Wales and is about to do the same in Scotland.

Dr Ashworth served as the government's chief scientist under prime ministers James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher from 1976 to 1981.

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