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Crisis Looming For Asylum Seekers

27 April, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly member Bairbre de Brún has called for urgent action to be taken to plug a loophole which will see former asylum seekers from the 10 new EU accession states evicted from their accommodation and at least in the short term denied the ability to work legally.

Ms de Brún said:

" As it currently sits those claiming asylum here come under the jurisdiction of the Home Office in London. However with the 10 new EU accession states joining the EU on May 1st the status of people from those countries who were claiming asylum has now changed. From Monday they are EU citizens.

" The Home Office therefore are arguing that they are no longer their responsibility and the people concerned have been notified that they are to vacate their accommodation which is paid for by the Home Office before Monday. Many of these people will not have had the opportunity to receive the necessary paperwork to begin work immediately. They will also not have the necessary money to put down a deposit and advance rent on new accommodation and they are denied access to the benefit system through recently passed legislation.

" In short people will be made homeless. This situation can I believe be remedied if the necessary political will is shown. A mechanism for a number of weeks grace could surely be put in place to ensure that people are not thrown onto the street unable to support themselves.

" I have been in touch with a number of refugee support organisations and I will be making representations to the British government to get this anomaly in the regulations sorted out." ENDS

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