Asylum seekers live rough on the streets of Leeds – Report

LEEDS – FAILED asylum seekers are forced to live rough on the streets of Leeds – because their lives would be at risk if they were deported.\r\n

A total of 273 people – including mothers and children – were made destitute after the government refused their asylum pleas and withdrew their benefits.

But they are deemed ‘unreturnable’ as it is too dangerous for them to be sent back to their countries, according to a report launched in Leeds today.

They are left in a state of limbo with no money and nowhere to live, forcing some to sleep rough.

One in three have been without a home for more than a year, with many suffering from mental illness and malnutrition. Called Still Destitute, the annual report is the third commissioned by the York-based Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust into the plight of refused asylum seekers.

When their benefits are stopped they become reliant on charities and religious organisations in Leeds pushing them in turn to financial breaking point, it also found.

JRCT Trustee Peter Coltman said: "We must no longer ignore the shameful suffering of people, many of whom – the evidence clearly shows – simply can’t go home.

"That is why today we urge the Government to grant temporary leave to all those who, through no fault of their own, cannot return to their country."

The 2009 report found there were 232 refused asylum seekers dealt with by Leeds, which is one of the UK’s principle dispersal centres.

This was down from 2008’s figure but the real total could be higher according to the trust, as one agency which provided figures last year ran out of funds and was closed.

The report found two out of every three homeless asylum seekers came from just four countries – Iraq, Iran, Eritrea and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe, which currently has no diplomatic relationship with the UK, is the single biggest country of origin for refused asylum seekers and The Home Office has a policy of not deporting as it is impossible to guarantee their safety.

The trust is calling for an automatic continuation of suport until the individual leaves the UK.

It also wants the government to recognise validity of religious, social and family connections for refugees in need of housing.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Where an individual, through no fault of their own, cannot return home we provide the support to prevent them becoming destitute. This report focuses on those who the courts have decided do not need our protection." Yordkshire Evening Post