Socialist Worker

Defending refugees

Issue No. 1884

AS NEW Labour steps up its attacks on refugees, campaigners have been organising protests.

These include building for the Europe-wide day of action to defend refugees on Saturday 31 January, a call that came from the European Social Forum in Paris last year.

Campaigners took to the streets last week on the first anniversary of New Labour's law that has meant asylum seekers can be made homeless without any benefits.

The government admitted last week this law hit at least 7,500 people between January and September.

OVER 30 people took part in a sponsored 48-hour fast in Nottingham at the weekend to raise public awareness about the destitution faced by many asylum seekers in Britain.

Under Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, which came into force on 8 January last year, asylum seekers cannot expect financial support unless they can satisfy the Home Office that they applied for asylum "as soon as reasonably practical".

The Home Office believes that asylum claims should be lodged within three days of entering the UK.

Gary Freeman, a member of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum and one of the organisers of the fast, said that a local church has had to issue 69 food parcels to asylum seekers who faced starvation otherwise.

He gets £54.95 per week, but he is not entitled to housing benefit. Unable to afford rent and ineligible under asylum laws to go to a night shelter, he just sleeps anywhere he can.

Another Kosovan asylum seeker in Nottingham has had his support taken away. Now he sleeps in a corridor in a housing agency at night. He is in his 50s with a serious mental illness.


    For more information contact NNRF, 118 Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG1 3HL.

    AROUND 120 people gathered outside Manchester Town Hall (see picture) on Thursday of last week to protest against the destitution of asylum seekers. Spirits were lifted by rousing chants accompanied by a lively local samba band.


    AROUND 20 protesters shut down the Leeds Home Office building last Thursday to mark the anniversary of Section 55. Protesters locked entrances to the premises and handed out leaflets to workers.


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    Article information

    Sat 17 Jan 2004, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1884
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