Amnesty International calls Refugee Day rally
Amnesty International groups in London have teamed up with the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Hackney Refugee & Migrant Support Group, London Detainee Support Group and others to organise a demonstration calling for an end to the destitution of refused asylum seekers.
The march takes place on Saturday 20 June as part of Refugee Week. It will start at 12 noon at Embankment and head off past Westminster to Trafalgar Square, where a rally in support of asylum seekers will be held.
Speakers at the rally will include: Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK; Jeremy Corbyn MP; Maurice Wren, director of Asylum Aidl; Donna Covey, director of the Refugee Council; Jean Roger Kaseki, human rights campaigner from the Democratic Republic of Congo; Marilyn Bonzo, refugee from Zimbabwe; Makola Mayimbika, Poetic Justice; Emma Ginn, Medical Justice; and Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“The right to flee persecution in your own country and seek refuge somewhere safe is a vital part of human rights protection and has saved thousands people’s lives.
“We need to understand why people need to seek asylum, and celebrate what refugees have brought to this country over many years.
“And we call on the government to treat people humanely throughout the asylum process, rather than leaving refused asylum-seekers destitute if they cannot return home.”
Amnesty International is part of Still Human Still Here, a broad coalition of 29 organisations campaigning to bring all refused asylum seekers out of destitution by extending asylum support, permission to work, and access to healthcare and education until they are safe to return or granted leave to remain.
The coalition also includes the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, the Red Cross, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and the Archbishop’s Council of the Church of England.
Thousands of asylum seekers in the UK who have had their claims to asylum refused find themselves trapped in utter destitution. Most are refugees from countries torn apart by conflict where human rights abuses are rife. They cannot return to their countries of origin for fear of their lives. Yet they are prohibited from working in the UK and cut off from receiving benefits. They are condemned to live in poverty, dependent on the charity of others and vulnerable to the worst kinds of exploitation.
Many people have acknowledged the need to change a system that condemns refugees to poverty. A report in March last year by the Independent Asylum Commission states that the UK’s treatment of asylum seekers “falls seriously below the standards of civilised society”. The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP wrote in a recent report for the Centre for Social Justice that "the policy of making asylum seekers destitute is mean and nasty and has not worked".