28/04/2005

NI asylum guide delivers ‘facts not myths’ claim authors

A new information guide on refugee issues in Northern Ireland, which aims to deliver the facts, ‘not the myths’, about asylum, was launched in Belfast today.

The new booklet, 'Forced to Flee: frequently asked questions about refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland,' is published by the Refugee Action Group – a coalition of locally-based organisations and individuals working on asylum issues.

The guide, which will be distributed to journalists, politicians, community activists, teachers, church people and members of the public, claims that:
  • There are under 200 asylum applications made per year in Northern Ireland and we have around 2000 refugees in total here;
  • China and Zimbabwe, both with atrocious human rights records, are the two countries of origin of the greatest number of asylum seekers;
  • Some asylum seekers (approximately 50 in each of the last two years) are still being locked up in Northern Ireland prisons, often in cells for 15-plus hours per day;
  • Destitute asylum seekers must survive on £38.96 per week, 30% below the level of basic income support.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, which helped produce the new guide, said: “This booklet should help make Northern Ireland a safer refuge for asylum seekers.

“It will enable politicians, journalists and the general public to have an accurate picture and an informed debate about the reality of asylum and how we can provide a better welcome than we do now.”

Thousands of copies of the booklet will be distributed throughout Northern Ireland, including to all 800 local members of the National Union of Journalists, which has backed the new booklet.

(MB/SP)

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