A Red Cross worker has warned hundreds of failed asylum seekers in Lancashire face being driven into a life of crime if their applications are rejected by the Government.
Wonder Phiri, who works with migrants in the county, says the number of “destitution” cases is now rising as many exhaust the appeals system and are refused residence in the UK.
“Some go through the different stages of the asylum process smoothly and are OK,” he said after conducting a workshop at Preston’s first asylum and refugee conference.
“But then there are those who fail over and over again until the cycle becomes exhausted. Then destitution sets in.
“We are now about three years into hosting and receiving refugees and asylum seekers officially in Lancashire. Three years is long enough to have these destitution cases showing up now and we are experiencing quite a number.
“When people become destitute they are expected to return to their own country. But where do they go when everything where they live has been razed to the ground and there is nothing?
“What do they do when they have no relatives back in their home country?”
Wonder, who was an asylum seeker himself from Zimbabwe, says around 1,500 asylum seekers have come through the process in Preston alone over the past three years with a large majority of those being accepted.
But the ones who fail become vulnerable and can fall prey to exploitation, modern day slavery, forced labour, prostitution and crime.
“That’s what we are trying to alleviate in Lancashire. We are looking at destitution, but the resources (to tackle that) are always very minimal.”