Welfare: Torture victims suffering hardship

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The Independent Online
Torture victims suffering hardship

Asylum seekers are suffering serious hardship because of the "chaos and confusion" caused by the previous government's decision to withdraw welfare benefits and put responsibility on local authorities.

A report by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture looked at provision in 32 London boroughs who between them care for 15,000 welfare seekers. It found that councils are interpreting the law in different ways and are using different methods of help.

As a result, one torture victim from Turkey has to walk three miles a day for kidney dialysis while another disabled Eritrean has to travel for an hour on the tube because he cannot use his food vouchers locally. Asylum seekers in Ealing and Islington have to walk long distances to meal centres every day because the council does not provide fares.

The foundation called on the Government to restore benefits to all groups of asylum seekers. "Our patients have suffered severe torture abroad and are now suffering the further indignity of not being able to support themselves or their families," said Helen Bamber, the foundation's director. "Many of them are depressed some to the point of suicide. We call on the Government to restore benefits and dignity to all asylum seekers."

Past Misery Present Muddle is available free from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, 96-98 Grafton Rd, London NW5 3EJ

- Glenda Cooper, Social Affairs Correspondent

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