Call for dignity for asylum seekers

MORE SUPPORT Coun Peter O'Neill
MORE SUPPORT Coun Peter O'Neill

Asylum seekers looking for sanctuary in Kirklees from war and persecution in their own countries are not treated like human beings when they get here, according to a charity worker.

Liz Brooke, who works for 611 Asylum Work, said tough government measures were heaping “trauma upon trauma” for people who have often already been subjected to violence, rape and intimidation.

The concerns of asylum support services based in Kirklees were highlighted by councillors ahead of Kirklees Council’s full council meeting which was on Wednesday. A motion called on Kirklees to follow seven other local authorities in asking the government to provide more support for asylum seekers. People come to Kirklees from many African countries, Afghanistan, Syria and North Korea.

Asylum seekers are provided with accommodation and around £5 per day to survive while their applications are processed, but many applications are initially turned down, leaving them with nothing.

Mrs Brooke and Coun Peter O’Neill (Lab, Batley West), who has signed the motion, believe that destitution – withdrawing all support from asylum seekers – is being used as a deliberate policy to stop them coming to the country.

Last year there were 33 destitute asylum seekers in Kirklees, though Coun O’Neill said there could be more, while 270 more were being supported by the Home Office. Mrs Brooke said: “I would like asylum seekers to be treated with some dignity. At the moment they have no rights, they are nothing.”

Coun O’Neill said: “There is not enough support at the moment, particularly for children. A lot of these people already have physical and mental problems due to what they have been through. They need more support not less.”

Services such as 611 Asylum Work, based in Huddersfield, and Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield, provide accommodation, hot meals and general support.