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The Harsh Living Conditions Faced by Asylum Seekers in the UK: A Human Rights Watch Report Reveals

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Families Seeking Asylum in the UK Living in Poor Conditions, Says Human Rights Watch Report

A recent report by Human Rights Watch has revealed that families seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are facing harsh living conditions in temporary housing provided by the government, which is negatively impacting their health and their children’s access to education.

Findings of the Report

The 100-page report, conducted in collaboration with the British human rights organization Just Fair, highlights the long-term political failures that have led to these inadequate living conditions. More than 50 asylum seekers, including 27 children, were interviewed for the study, either currently residing in temporary housing in England or having recently left.

Despite the government’s aim to move families into permanent accommodation within 19 days, many asylum seekers reported spending months in temporary housing. They described serious habitability problems in hotels, such as lack of space, dampness, mold, broken or missing furniture, and pest infestations.

The report also emphasizes the challenges faced by families in providing proper nutrition for their children due to the lack of cooking facilities. Additionally, children often encounter difficulties in enrolling in local schools immediately, hindering their access to education.

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Call for Action

Yasmin Ahmed, UK director at Human Rights Watch, expressed her concerns about the inhumane and inadequate housing conditions for asylum seekers. She urged the UK government to redirect its funding towards appropriate long-term housing and social support, emphasizing that such conditions are unacceptable in the world’s sixth-largest economy.

The Controversy Surrounding UK Immigration Policies

The UK government is currently facing controversy regarding its efforts to curb what it refers to as “illegal” immigration into the country. One contentious issue involves preventing migrants from making dangerous crossings of the English Channel in small boats.

To address this, the government has introduced legislation that bans asylum claims by those arriving via the Channel and other “illegal routes,” while also mandating their transfer to third countries like Rwanda. However, these policies are currently on hold due to ongoing legal challenges regarding the legality of transferring migrants to East Africa.

The UK government is also attempting to reduce the costs associated with accommodating asylum seekers in hotels and is exploring alternative options such as barges, abandoned military bases, and tents. However, these proposals have faced criticism, with Human Rights Watch and Just Fair arguing that large-scale institutional settings like barracks should not be used for refugee accommodation. They suggest that asylum seekers should be supported in finding their own housing in communities of their choice and be allowed to work while their cases are being considered.

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