The horror of living in destitution is highlighted at Scottish Refugee Council's AGM

Scottish Refugee Council

Media Release

Patricia Zimouini, a refugee from Congo Brazzaville, will speak out at the charity’s annual gathering on Friday, January 13 at 2.45pm at Glasgow’s City Halls.

She will be joined by Christina McKelvie MSP, Convenor of the European and External Affairs Committee at the Scottish Parliament, who will outline her concerns about destitution and what can be done to support asylum seekers in this plight.

Mike Kaye who co-ordinates the Still Human, Still Here destitution campaign collation of which Scottish Refugee Council is a member, is also a speaker.

Scottish Refugee Council is using its AGM to step up its call for the UK Government to end destitution by better recognising those people who desperately need protection, and granting more people asylum or considering temporary status for others.

Patricia Zimouini said of being destitute: “You are out of the system; you feel as if you do not exist, you are a nobody, an outsider, an alien.

“You feel rejected by society. You feel like a criminal, or someone of another race condemned to disappear.”

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “The experiences of someone like Patricia, forced to rely on the help of friends and churches in order to survive, are really not acceptable in Britain today.

“Destitution should not form part of a civilised asylum process. As a signatory to the Refugee Convention, the UK Government should ensure that people seeking protection are given a fair and just hearing and treated with dignity and respect throughout the process. 

“Our Protection appeal, which aims to raise £20,000 by the end of this month, supports this work and you can still help us by donating, by text, or online.”

For more information or to arrange interviews with speakers, contact Karin Goodwin or Wendy Niblock on 0141 223 7927 or 07850 930418 or email media@scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk

Notes to Editors 

  • Scottish Refugee Council has been standing up for the rights of refugees since 1985. We are an independent charity with offices in Glasgow providing advice and support for refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. We also lobby government on changes to policy and have been successful in helping lobby for change in areas such as child detention.
  • Ending destitution is one of our main goals in 2012. Key to this is better decision making on asylum cases and better use of protection measures such as Humanitarian Protection and temporary leave to remain. Refused asylum seekers should continue to receive financial support and accommodation as provided during the asylum process until such a time as they have left the UK or have been granted leave to remain.

Simply text SRCD11 to 70070, with either £3, £5 or £10. For example, text SRCD11£5. All of your donation will go directly to help our work.

  • In Glasgow, several organisations provide emergency assistance for destitute people in the asylum system, including Refugee Survival Trust, Positive Action in Housing and smaller community and church groups, many of whom are linked through the Glasgow Destitution Network. Scottish Refugee Council works alongside these groups to try to prevent issues such as destitution from happening.
  • In a recent survey of asylum seekers in Scotland (the Second Destitution Tally, May 2009), 52% of those visiting refugee agencies in Scotland and Northern Ireland were destitute. The majority of destitute people had had their asylum cases refused but came from countries with well documented cases of human rights abuses and persecution.
  • The asylum determination system still gets a quarter of its initial decisions wrong. The success rate at appeal for asylum seekers from certain countries is even higher. For example, in 2008, more than 40 per cent of Eritreans and Somalis appealing against the refusal of asylum won their cases. While many asylum seekers will eventually be granted some form of status after appeal, others, particularly those without good legal representation, will get to the end of the process without having their protection needs recognised.

 

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