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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 12:20 GMT
Region is hit by asylum 'crisis'
Failed asylum seeker collecting food
People are having to rely on charities for support
A charity worker in the East Midlands has backed the findings of a national asylum report, saying the UK is going through its biggest crisis in years.

Amanda Soraghan, from Refugee Action in Leicester, said failed asylum seekers were being forced into poverty because of government policy.

The report found thousands of failed asylum seekers living in destitution because support had been withdrawn.

A Home Office spokesman said those entitled to support would receive it.

"Where people have failed to establish a claim to asylum, our view is that they should go home.

"We will bend over backwards to help people go home voluntarily but if that hand of support is pushed away, we will enforce return," he said.

He added that there were some failed asylum seekers who were unable to leave immediately and in those cases, accommodation and non-cash support would be given.

Life or death

But failed asylum seeker, Patrick who is sleeping rough in Nottingham and originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said he had a simple choice between life or death.

"If I go home, they will kill me straight away," he said. "I have friends and family who used to be in the army and they have been assassinated.

"I've got two choices - either I go back and be killed or stay here suffering and it's a hard life."

A survey in July found more than 300 failed asylum seekers in Leicester receiving no support at all and more than 150 in Nottingham.

Ms Soraghan said forcing people into destitution was not a successful method of getting them to leave the country.

"People are being forced to sleep rough and eat out of dustbins as they have no visible means of support.

"They are choosing to be destitute, putting themselves at risk of physical and mental health problems, rather than return to dangerous countries. The asylum system is in chaos," she said.

Charities Refugee Action and Amnesty International have called for asylum policy to be changed, with temporary leave-to-remain granted, allowing people to work for themselves while waiting to return home.


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