Page last updated at 23:13 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 00:13 UK

Sleepout focus on asylum plight

Homeless man
The government denied it was operating a "destitution policy".

A public "sleepout" is being held in Glasgow's George Square to highlight the case of refused asylum seekers who are homeless.

The event is being organised by the charity, Positive Action in Housing, to focus on the government's "destitution policy towards asylum seekers".

But the UK Government denied any such policy existed.

A spokeswoman said asylum seekers were treated with "respect and humanity" and there was no need for destitution.

However, charity director, Robina Qureshi, said government policy on immigration, which is reserved to Westminster, "is not working and carries a devastating human cost".

"Many people seeking asylum whose claims are turned down are unable to return home but they are denied all state support," she said.

We expect those with no right to remain in the United Kingdom to return home voluntarily, if they choose not to we will enforce their removal
UK Border Agency spokeswoman

"They have no money for food, shelter, and the everyday things we take for granted. This misery is a direct consequence of government policy.

"Destitution is being used to drive people out of the country - but many thousands simply cannot leave and are now homeless and hungry.

"We are encouraging our supporters and members to take part in a sleepout to highlight the plight of hundreds of people refused asylum."

But a spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said there was "no need for asylum seekers to be destitute".

She said: "The government is committed to providing protection for individuals found to be genuinely in need, in accordance with our commitments under international law.

'Right to work'

"We will ensure a system that is humane and compassionate. We only return those individuals who we, and the independent courts, have found to have no fear of persecution or serious harm upon return to their home country.

"We provide measures that ensure that individuals are not destitute and work to ensure that all are treated with respect and humanity."

Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell said the Scottish Government would continue to argue the case for asylum and immigration issues to be devolved.

"We support the restoration of the right to work," he said.

"Asylum seekers, at all stages of the process, should be treated with humanity and respect."

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