As the UK emerges from lockdown, JRS joins many other organisations in expressing deep concern that the Home Office will once again begin the process of evicting some asylum seekers from their accommodation.
Home Office documents reveal that the government will begin to review and process cases for possible eviction from refused asylum seekers who are currently in receipt of support under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which includes accommodation. JRS joins a number of other charities and organisations in condemning the decision and expressing deep worry that many more who have been waiting for an asylum decision will face eviction, street homelessness and forced removal from the UK.
Naomi Turner, Destitution Caseworker at JRS UK said:
“At JRS UK, we see the human impact of destitution on people seeking asylum on a daily basis. Enforced destitution is never just or conducive to the common good. In the context of COVID-19, it inevitably poses an increased risk to individual and public health. We are troubled by the prospect of evictions from asylum accommodation recommencing. If we are to have a safe, and just, recovery from the pandemic, we need to end enforced destitution.”
Evictions from asylum support accommodation have been paused for the past year due to increased concern to public health during the Coronavirus pandemic, in a move that has been welcomed by many organisations.
Naomi shares this case study of a friend of JRS:
In July last year one of our female refugee friends was sleeping on the buses in North London; a situation where it is so difficult to get proper sleep, as well a real public health concern in a pandemic. She is now in asylum support accommodation- safe and able to get a proper night’s sleep. As she was street homeless previously, she would have nowhere to go if her section 4 support was discontinued.
Many of those supported by JRS UK continue to receive support under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It is unclear if and when those receiving section 4 support will face the prospect of eviction from the accommodation they are currently staying in, but this is of great concern to JRS.
Those evicted would be put at direct risk of street homelessness, destitution and added health risks associated with Coronavirus, which still poses a threat in the UK. Those supported by JRS are already vulnerable, many face existing complex health issues and the threat imposed by evictions and forced removal will have catastrophic effects on their lives.
Image credit: Max van den Oetelaar, Unsplash