UK charity organisation Refugee Action Thursday reported that the UK’s asylum housing system is “cruel by design,” and outlined the poor conditions and systems of racialised segregation towards the asylum seekers. The report chronicles one hundred interviews with asylum seekers situated in hotels in London, Manchester, West Midlands and Bradford.
According to the report, asylum seekers are placed in hotel accommodations that amount to “de-facto detention centres” with prison-like environments. The report cites statistics from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) which demonstrate that “unaccompanied children were held in de-facto detention for an average of 23.2 days.” According to the report, people of colour are held for months in segregated spaces, most of which are unreasonably small and overcrowded with no privacy. The conditions contribute to poor hygiene and frequent infections.
The report details that asylum seekers who file complaints with the Home Office, the UK’s ministry for immigration, are met with threats to be sent to Rwanda. One interviewee said they “were locked in our room for a week and only had bread and milk…the hotel staff have said that if we complain about the hotel the Home Office will move us to Rwanda.” The report describes other arbitrary and unregulated punishments enacted by staff members, including locking residents into rooms when they complained.
In response to the findings, Refugee Action demanded that the government create appropriate accommodations for asylum seekers, meet higher standards for housing and work with local charities to address issues such as access to legal advice and justice and housing support.