Letter: Refugee targets

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Sir: The decision by the Home Secretary to deprive refugees seeking political asylum of their right to social security benefits is shameful. Ministers have decided that political refugees make an easy and populist target as the economic weather turns stormy.

Refugees will be prevented from becoming integrated into British society. Without money you cannot be part of normal everyday society. The decision also has major implications for all other social security claimants. If refugees can live on food stamps and vouchers, what is there to stop this principle being extended to anyone who is unemployed or unwaged?

We also condemn the attempt to disperse refugees. When my grandparents, and most other Jewish immigrants, came to Britain, they headed for the East End of London or the industrial cities of the North. Today's refugees also want to be with their own communities. To forcibly disperse people, on pain of losing the right to basic sustenance, will isolate those who are already traumatised and leave them as a target for attack by fascist and racist groups. In Germany, where a similar policy applies, this is exactly what has happened.

Political refugees are not, for the most part, bogus or "economic migrants". They are the consequence of arms exports from the developed world, and Britain is the world's second biggest arms producer. The Government's "ethical" foreign policy allows profits from arms sales to continue but seeks to keep out their human debris.


Brighton Unemployed Centre