Vulnerable asylum seekers are being made to queue outside the government’s main asylum processing centre for long periods of time in freezing conditions, according to a report.
The inquiry into Lunar House in Croydon, south London, finds that asylum seekers, including parents with small children and disabled people, had to queue for an average of 4-6 hours. This may include a significant period when they were outside and no seating was available, it adds.
In a recent BBC File on Four programme, immigration minister Tony McNulty acknowledged that the physical structure of the queuing area outside the building was like a ‘pig pen’.
The inquiry, carried out by community organisation South London Citizens, also finds that some asylum seekers, including pregnant women and children, were unable to eat or drink for many hours at the centre because they did not have any money to purchase the food on sale.
The quality of decision-making is also found to be variable and many asylum applicants were not provided with interpreters.
As well as hearing evidence from asylum seekers, the inquiry also sought the views of Immigration and Nationality Directorate staff at the centre. Half of those who responded had experienced stress-related health problems within the last year.
McNulty said the government was considering the findings and recommendations of the report. He was due to meet with the inquiry’s commissioners as Community Care went to press.
Report on the South London Citizens Enquiry into Service Provision by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at Lunar House from: www.londoncitizens.org.uk