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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Legal fears for asylum seekers
Campaigners say the lives of asylum seekers in Devon are being put at risk because of a lack of legal support.

There are now only two firms in the South West taking on such cases.

Some law firms have stopped doing legal aid work for asylum seekers because they claim it has become far more difficult to get funding.

The government is aiming to cut the cost of asylum legal aid, which has risen from 81.3m in 2000-01 to 174.2m in 2002-03.

Complex process

Exeter and Plymouth are known as dispersion areas where asylum seekers live while their cases are considered.

The Devon Refugee Support Group says the importance of getting asylum cases right can be a matter of life or death.

It is a complex process which the Refugee Group says is often not understood by claimants.

In a statement, the government said legal aid costs have risen substantially in recent years and faster than the number of cases.

It said waste should be rooted out to ensure effective services.

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