Asylum seekers in Glasgow need more help to
prevent falling into destitution, according to a committee of MSPs. A Holyrood committee is looking into how services
can be improved to ensure people have at least their basic needs met. A Red Cross report found hundreds of asylum
seekers in Glasgow had reported to authorities as being destitute and the problem is particularly
concerning charities among women asylum seekers. If they have been refused right to remain
or their immigration status is not clear it can have an impact on their ability to get
public funds and leave them with nothing. The Equalities and Human Rights Committee
wants to hear asylum seekers who have been left destitute, their experience of looking
for help with the authorities and from organisations helping people get support. Christina McKelvie MSP, committee convener,
said she wanted to hear from people first hand. She said: “We want to hear directly from
asylum seekers living in Scotland about their experiences and the hardship they have faced.
“Nobody doubts the great harm that destitution can have on an individual or family. “This
committee wants to find out the practical changes that could be made, and what other
support can be found so there is a better outlook for asylum seekers who come to this
country for sanctuary but end up destitute and vulnerable to exploitation.” The Red Cross, in its dealings with asylum
seekers, found women resorting to prostitution and domestic servitude in order to survive. The international aid organisation, more associated
with disaster and famine operations, said what it was seeing in the city and across
the UK among asylum seekers was an “emerging humanitarian crisis.” It has helped 13,000 people across the UK
in the last two years. People are left with no access to money, food
or accommodation. They have no means of receiving health treatment and medicine. The problem is seen as more severe for women,
some who are pregnant and due to a lack of night shelters are reliant on the support
of friends or charity workers to provide accommodation. At least one third of the 700 destitute in
Glasgow were women. The Scottish Refugee Council said people were
being driven to desperation because of a lack of support. A spokeswoman said: “No one in Scotland
in this day and age should be living in destitution, no matter what their background or immigration
status. “Forcing people into homelessness and extreme poverty is cruel and inhumane
and puts people who need our help at risk of exploitation and abuse. “We very much
welcome this enquiry and hope that it leads to concrete actions to support people bearing
the brunt of the UK Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy for immigrants.” The MSPS on the committee will be carrying
out fact finding visits as part of its inquiry. It is particularly interested in where asylum
seekers are finding support when public funds have been withdrawn for them. The committee wants to understand how and
where they access the basic needs of food and shelter and what barriers they face from
public authorities when looking for help.