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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 11:56 GMT
Anger as asylum seekers rehoused
Asylum seekers generic
Applications are being dealt with faster says the Home Office
A row has broken out over delays in asylum applications in Devon after the county council moved 17 refugees from Exeter to Bristol.

The Iranians had been told they could stay in Exeter until a final decision on their asylum applications was made.

One leaves a partner and a month-old baby and another a pregnant partner.

But Devon County Council blamed the Home Office, saying it had not expected the decision on their applications to take so long.

It just feels like they wanted to wash their hands of them
Partner Kate Bolsover
Mother-of-three Kate Bolsover, whose partner Kamran Karini, 28, was among those removed from accommodation in Exeter to Bristol on Tuesday, said: "It has absolutely devastated my life.

"He is only allowed 14 days away from Bristol in every six months."

Ms Bolsover, 31, met Mr Karini, a former policeman, when he was doing voluntary work at Age Concern after arriving in Exeter a year and a half ago.

She said: "The county council have come up with so many excuses, but I don't believe any of them.

"It just feels like they wanted to wash their hands of them."

We have been working with each individual to try to help them resolve their difficulties
Devon County Council
A county council spokesman said: "We very much regret that these moves have had to be made especially as we have been trying to talk to National Asylum Support Service (NASS), for the last eight months about moving towards a reasonable and sensible closure of the asylum programme in Devon.

"Given the government's target, we fully expected Home Office decisions on outstanding asylum applications to be completed by last Christmas, but they have not been, and our accommodation contracts with private landlords have all since come to an end.

"We have been working with each individual to try to help them resolve their difficulties."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We had a contract with Devon County Council on a small number of properties which they requested was terminated.

"We don't have any other accommodation providers in Exeter so we have moved 17 people to the nearest area we can accommodate them which is Bristol."

The Home Office said earlier this month four out of five new claims were now decided in two months, compared with 20 months in 1997, and the government was continuing to speed up the time taken to deal with applications.

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