Campaign groups have hit out at the treatment of Syrian asylum seekers at Waterside House, the Home Office’s Immigration centre in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Home Office guidelines state that asylum seekers should receive a decision on their status “within six months” and the interview should be carried out “soon” after their application. Living in abject poverty is also the norm for Syrian claimants with adult asylum seekers receiving just £36.62 per week in cash for living expenses.
The news comes as Syrian support groups and refugee rights campaigns plan to protest on the 16th June at the disgracefully small-scale of the government’s resettlement programme for Syrian refugees fleeing the country’s civil war.
Elijiah Qabanni, who is a Syrian refugee currently seeking asylum in Leeds, said:
“I arrived in the UK late last year and have been waiting for my interview since then. My wife and children are running out of money to survive. I’d rather go back to Syria and die with them than watch them suffer like this while I can do nothing. I was so depressed my weight dropped to 55kg and I have severe psychological problems.”
Azado Khalil, another refugee at the Leeds centre, highlighted the contrast with the treatment his treatment and that of his brother in Cardiff:
“I arrived in the UK with my brother in Autumn 2013 fleeing the violence in my city Aleppo. He was sent to Cardiff, was interviewed and got a decision within a month. It’s been over six months and I am still waiting for an interview. I thought Britain was a country that respected human rights but I’ve been left completely in limbo”.
The plight of the Syrian refugees has led Labour MP John McDonnell to speak out:
“After what many Syrian refugees have suffered in their own country, it is inhumane and unacceptable that they have to endure still further hardship in this country at the hands of the Home Office. Urgent action by ministers is needed to tackle these delays and bureaucratic obstacles.”
The Syria Solidarity Movement is demanding their claims are dealt with as a matter of urgency, particularly cases where claimants have been waiting more than six months for an interview, that legal aid should be provided to make family reunion possible, that family visas are made available to elderly relatives, and that free access to English classes should be provided by the Home Office for all claimants.
Syria Solidarity Movement Press Release