Refugees living in Britain are struggling to provide essentials for themselves and their families, as they are currently being driven into poverty. Hundreds of asylum seekers living in the UK are immensely struggling to survive, as some are faced with destitution, while others are being forced into exploitative work because they fear being detained and deported.
It is estimated that the UK hosts around 117,234 refugees, which accounts for just 0.18 percent of the total British population. The UK has received thousands of asylum seekers but the UK’s asylum system is extremely complex and difficult for refugees to get, with many asylum seekers being denied. Attempting to claim asylum can result in refugees being detained during the process, as half of asylum seekers in Britain have found themselves in detention centers. Also, if a refugee is granted asylum they are not allowed to work and must rely on state support, which can be as little as £5 a day.
According to The Observer, asylum seekers have been found working in warehouses, construction sites, and garages for as little as £10 a day. The Observer found that many of these refugees working in exploitative work had stopped signing in with the Home Office after they were being held in detention centers for months. It has also been found that many refugees are living in destitution and are dependent on charities for essentials such as food and clothes.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, stated,
“No one should arrive in the UK having fled conflict or persecution only to be left destitute and reliant on charity to survive.”
The Observer interviewed eight different refugee men, in which the majority of them had family living in the UK and they were supporting themselves by working illegally because they stopped signing in with immigration authorities, as they were too afraid of detention and removal. One of the men, Tarek, 31, has been living in the UK without documents for nearly four years. After he signed in with the Home Office he was held in a detention center for three months. He stated, “After that, I was too scared to go and sign in.” For the past three months, Tarek has been working with a mechanic at a garage and receives £10 a day and food, but he is being threatened with removal to Bulgaria.
Another person interviewed named Osama, who is 18, arrived last October after his house was destroyed in 2015, in which he was severely wounded by shrapnel. Osama is currently reliant on government support, as he has been waiting for four months without papers. “It is so bad waiting,” he said,
“I just wake up, eat, maybe see friends, then I do nothing. I would work if I was allowed.”
According to the Red Cross, Britain has seen an increase in destitute Syrian asylum seekers, as last year the country had seen 1,341 compared to 1,159 the year before. A quarter of all destitute asylum seekers in South Yorkshire reported feeling hunger every day. The Red Cross found that in nearly half of all the cases they had dealt with, asylum seekers were facing destitution. The refugees living in poverty are receiving government assistance but it is evidently not enough, as many are struggling to purchase basic needs like food.