Nadia was six weeks pregnant and homeless when she made contact with a refugee charity in Glasgow. “I was so depressed when I found out I was pregnant,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was going to eat today or tomorrow. I didn’t know where I was going to live. I didn’t have any money and didn’t want my child to have to live like that.”
Nadia’s claim for refugee protection had been refused and, living in the “hostile environment” Theresa May has created for illegal immigrants, she was excluded from any UK asylum support, including emergency housing.
At Scottish Refugee Council we see people like Nadia every day – men and women living in absolute poverty as a direct result of UK government policy. The number of people in this position is increasing [pdf] and that includes individuals with physical and mental health difficulties, and women, like Nadia, who are pregnant.
Destitution can occur at several points in the asylum process but forced, state-sanctioned absolute poverty most frequently occurs when people’s claims for refugee protection have been refused. The Home Office believes, against the evidence [pdf], that people will return to war zones and countries where they have been tortured and persecuted if they are denied food and shelter in the UK. It is an attempt to starve people out of the country. But it doesn’t work. People will try to survive in any way they can.
We know that this policy forces people into dangerous and exploitative situations, including domestic servitude, prostitution and abusive relationships, just to find shelter for the night. We know too the detrimental impact that destitution has on people’s mental and physical health, and the ways in which it impedes their ability to make decisions about the future.
“When people don’t have their basic needs met their thoughts and behaviour become chaotic,” says Lindsay Reid, a caseworker at Scottish Refugee Council. “This leads to feelings of shame and worthlessness which multiply and become entrenched over time. One man I know survived torture in Pakistan but through his experience of destitution in the UK has developed severe psychological problems and has lost the ability to cope.”
Apr 27, 2019Top UN officials call for generosity from world to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps. Top United Nations officials have urged the international community not to forget the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and called for global support to ensure their safe and voluntary return to Myanmar. Speaking to reporters following a visit to refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar on Friday, Mark […]
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