SINCE September, homeless people, including homeless asylum seekers and refugees, have been unceremoniously dumped back onto the streets of the UK.
A study published in The Lancet found that, during the first lockdown, 266 deaths and 1,164 hospital admissions had been averted under the ‘everyone in’ scheme.
This was a scheme where rough sleepers were temporarily housed in hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts. However, as soon as the worst of the first peak of the pandemic had subsided they were kicked back out on to the streets.
Asylum seekers and refugees are hardest hit as they have no recourse to public funds, meaning they are not eligible for housing benefit, or emergency accommodation, Universal Credit or any other benefit.
Nor do they have any right to work, as they have no National Insurance number. In other words, they have been completely discarded and left to starve.
Renae Mann, director of asylum housing network Naccom, said: ‘The government has made it clear that Covid-19 still presents a very real public health risk, yet it continues to evict people from asylum accommodation into homelessness.
‘This is reckless and completely disregards the danger these evictions pose to the individuals themselves and the wider public.
‘Many winter night shelters in our network are closed this year because of the risks posed by Covid-19 in these settings, and drop-in services are also either closed or have sharply reduced capacity.’
Tinashe, an asylum seeker from Zimbabwe, was temporarily accommodated in Brighton during the first lockdown, but received an eviction notice in
‘The housing manager came to me and said I need to leave because they have to make way for someone else,’ he said. ‘They removed my clothes and put them in storage, then they took away my keys and said I need to go. There was nothing I could do – I had to go back to the streets.’ Sleeping rough in doorways has affected his health, and diabetes has left him with poor eyesight.
‘At night, it’s really bad,’ he said. ‘I can see if somebody is there, but not who it is. I realised it’s better to just be awake at night, walking around, and then I can sleep in the daytime in the park. It’s a very scary thing being on the streets, but now there’s also the virus, and I could get it any time, any place.’
The Tory government are attacking the most vulnerable people in society. Back in July, Tory PM Johnson offered as many as three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.
This proves that asylum is a political question – a limitless number of Hong Kong Chinese anti-communists are more than welcome as far as the UK ruling class is concerned, while asylum seekers seeking to cross the Channel are to be netted and then returned!
The ‘Hostile Environment’ is alive and kicking, except for anti-communist pro-capitalists!
It is a class question. As of the 1st November, draconian immigration laws have been introduced which give immigration officials the power to round up foreign rough sleepers and deport them from Britain.
The UK’s first refugee camp has been established at the old Napier Barracks in Folkestone. This is where hundreds of refugees fleeing imperialist war, devastation, homelessness and poverty, who have attempted the dangerous journey across the English Channel, are incarcerated awaiting deportation.
At the same time, the capitalist press describes refugees and asylum seekers as an ‘invasion’.
The working class has the polar opposite attitude. In Folkestone itself, there have been big demonstrations welcoming refugees. Hundreds of thousands around the UK have offered up their own homes, to house desperate people and their families from overseas.
The enemy of the working class is not refugees and asylum seekers. In fact, the enemy is at home and it is the British ruling class of capitalists and bankers.
The only way forward is for the working class to give all refugees a place to live and work and to put an end to this bankrupt and barbaric capitalist system by bringing down this Tory government and going forward to a workers’ government and a socialist society whose motto is ‘Workers of the World Unite’.