Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

53.  Memorandum from Hira Malik

  I am writing regarding your inquiry on "treatment of asylum seekers", I found the information really interesting and therefore I thought I would let you know about some problems that arise locally in Rotherham (Yorkshire) and I am sure that these problems will be very similar on the national level as well. I am one of the myps (member of youth parliament), so I have been approached a lot by young asylum seekers in school and outside. For young people one of the main areas is financial support. As you would be aware that as soon they turn 16, their weekly income support by NASS is cut down by quite a lot and they are faced with more financial difficulties. They are not eligible for EMA and are also not allowed to work to support themselves. This leads them being still very much dependant on their parents who are already not in very good position. All of these and many other issues make many barriers for these young people which stop them from continuing their education post 16. Even if they decide to continue with A-levels, they are stopped again when wanting to go to university, as they have to pay overseas student tuition fees which is very hard rather impossible to pay for when you are not allowed to work and have very low income support.

  I believe that young asylum seekers are always kept back from their peers and are not really cared about. They already have so many problems back home and when they come over here they face even more problems. They are not treated equally at all. As being a young person myself and representing many other young people, I know about many problems and issues that we have to face day to day, and I know that it is part of life, but these asylum seekers are not even given an equal chance and that too from a very early age when they don't even know about what they are going through. Things like when you go to trips to France or Germany in year 7/8, they can't go because they don't have travel documents let alone the money problems. I mean they are in danger in their home countries and not the whole world, and this stays with them all the way through their student lives eg overseas trips for art or business studies and many other subjects when doing GCSE's or A-levels.

  They are also not allowed to obtain driving license, which again keeps them behind everyone else. I am not saying that they should be privileged in any way but they should be seen and treated equally. Many of the young people, who I have been approached by, are doing volunteer work and so are their parents. This shows that they want to work and that they want to be part of our society. They do not want to be on benefits and feel happy in paying back through volunteer work. Many if not all are very able and intelligent and can help in improving Briton. I know few students who got straight A*'z and A'z in their GCSE's and A-levels but are still not given the chance to show what they can do. I am sure that there will many asylum seekers who would be qualified workers in their countries and would still like to work in Britain but again are not given the chance. Giving them a chance to work will only improve Briton's economy as there will be work force, more taxes payers and less benefit claimers.

  Media always portrays asylum seekers negatively by saying things like "they get everything even though they are so lazy and don't do anything!" or like "they are everywhere now, why can't they just go back home!!!" when they should be showing the positive side as well. Asylum seekers bring culture and teach us about how things are different in other parts of the world. They also tell us that we should appreciate the lives that we have because no one would like to go to a new country where everything is different and most of the time you don't even know the language.

  I think that government should go back to the laws regarding asylum seekers and should change them to make asylum seekers part of our society and also by giving them more equal chances because at the end of the day they are also human beings just like us but with more problems.

  I hope that this will be of some use, thanks for your time.

August 2006

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