Campaign calls for fair treatment for refugees and asylum seekers

Community Care has launched a campaign to achieve a fair
deal for asylum seekers and refugees and counterbalance their
negative portrayal in the media.

Right to Refuge: A Fair Deal for Asylum Seekers and Refugees was
launched by Community Care‘s deputy editor Mark Ivory at
the annual Community Care LIVE conference and exhibition
held in Islington, north London, following a debate about the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

“There is an urgent need to counter the lies and distortions in the
media and elsewhere by telling the truth about asylum seekers and
refugees,” Ivory said. “We want an end to the racism that blights
the lives of asylum seekers and we urge politicians to cut out the
racist language they are using and accentuate the positive
contribution asylum seekers can make to the country.”

The two main overall aims of the campaign are to challenge the
current atmosphere of hysteria, prejudice and racism towards
refugees and asylum seekers, and to ensure that people entering the
UK seeking asylum are treated as human beings and given the support
that meets national and international standards.

More specific aims include calling for asylum procedures to be
streamlined and an improved process for dealing with applications.
It also demands an end to the detention of children seeking

A Community Care survey to coincide with the launch found
that 87 per cent of people working with asylum seekers who
expressed a view felt their services were under-resourced. A
similar number felt services were failing. Nine in 10 respondents
said they had dealt with clients with mental health problems, 70
per cent had dealt with cases of suspected torture, and 31 per cent
with women who were pregnant as a result of rape.

The campaign launch came as Home Office figures revealed that
quarterly asylum applications fell by a third in the first three
months of 2003. Home secretary David Blunkett attributed the fall
to measures securing the Channel Tunnel and reforms in the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act.

But Refugee Action’s chief executive Sandy Buchan warned: “An
obsession with asylum numbers must not be at the expense of a
genuine regard for the needs of vulnerable individuals seeking
safety here.”

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