No deal Brexit to push refugees into destitution
A no deal Brexit will see thousands of refugees pushed into destitution following a funding U-turn from the UK Government.
Charities working to support refugees and people seeking asylum currently receive millions of pounds of funding from the EU to help people who have fled torture, terrorism and civil war rebuild their lives in safety in Scotland.
But despite having previously assured service providers that it would underwrite European funding, the UK Government has backtracked and informed charities that support from the EU’s asylum, migration and integration fund will now be cut in the event of a no-deal scenario.
The move means EU funded services helping refugees in Scotland find homes, jobs, healthcare, financial support and school places for their children will no longer be funded, despite billions of pounds being promised to underwrite other EU initiatives in the UK.
Sabir Zazai, CEO of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We are shocked and angry about this reversal of assurances given to us by the Home Office last year.
“Refugee integration services are an investment in all of our futures. When people feel settled and connected and able to put roots down in a place everyone in the community benefits.
“Our team works hard every day to help people feel at home here in Scotland. To help people cope with the stress and anxiety of a life uprooted and disrupted and to nurture people's ambitions to build a new life in safety here.
“We believe this work is important and we see every day in our packed waiting room the need for this type of support.
“Integration is not a straightforward process. It takes long term investment and support. Without this, the risk is that people end up moving from war zones straight into poverty and destitution in the UK.
“That's why this funding is so important. We are a charity, we don't make a profit or pay for shareholders. But we do make our funding go a long way to help the people who need it. The UK Government is threatening our essential services and the people we care deeply about as part of a no deal Brexit that puts so many of our rights at risk.”
Home Office guidance now states that only projects which secured funding directly from the European Commission will benefit from the guarantee.
The department says it is taking steps to ensure it can administer funding to affected projects from exit day.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government has guaranteed funding for organisations that successfully bid directly to the European Commission for Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
“We are committed to effective integration. In February 2019 we published the Integrated Communities Action plan and committed to work with civil society and others to increase integration support for all refugees in the UK. Our focus is on supporting refugees with English language, employment and entrepreneurship, and wellbeing.”