Denied asylum seekers are the only people in our society for whom destitution is the deliberate outcome of government policy.

 

This policy is having a devastating impact on asylum seekers and their families and has been found to constitute a breach of asylum seekers’ basic human rights.

 

We presented to the Lord Mayor a draft motion which asks that the Council recognises the extreme hardship experienced by destitute asylum seekers residing in Belfast City with no access to UK Home Office support and expresses alarm at the Home Office policy which intentionally leaves people seeking refuge and sanctuary in our City without a roof over their head, any money to support or means to provide for themselves.

 

Other councils, including Liverpool, Glasgow and Swansea have already condemned the Westminster government’s policy on enforced destitution for destitute asylum seekers and we urge our Council to follow suit.

 

We believe that the Belfast City Council should use its powers and influence to ensure that no person in our city, as a direct and conscious outcome of public policy, has their fundamental human rights to accommodation and an adequate standard of living denied.

  

The meeting also heard from representatives of the Council’s Environmental Department who advised that complaints against standards in private accommodation could be investigated by its officers. This applies also to asylum seekers who are housed by the Housing Executive under NASS contract.