What Value Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

It is amazing how much we misunderstand the process of refugees and asylum seekers.

I work for a company called Phoenix Community Care, this is a not for profit company that works with people in need. So we work with young people age 16 and 17 years old who are in the UK but have no parents or guardians here. They actually come under the care system as looked after children, as you are considered by UK law as a child until you reach the age of 18 years, the problem for the care system was that in real terms most local authority agencies for foster care where overstretched before the wars in so many areas started supping refugees out all over the world. Places like Afghanistan, Kosovo, Darfur, Somalia, and Iraqi. On top of that there are localised wars like in Congo. Then on top of that there are internal wars in Sri Lanka. Add to those problems the problem of persecution which still excises in countries like Vietnam, and Cambodia.

If your life was threatened would you run away, would you try and protect your family and loved ones?

As a company we are housing young people from most of the above countries, we then have young people from China and Iran, why Iran, no war there, well no, but if you are a Christian or a Jehovah witness, then life is almost impossible. Then there are those from Ethiopia, why do they come, many say to me well my father speaks Amharic but my mother is from Eritrea and no one want you then.

I am sure there are bad apples, some few I have met, but most of the stories I hear would make you wonder why they are not mad, and some because of the extreme pressure actually are and need good psychiatric care.

Sadly I often hear from people, it is not fair, they are steeling our houses and jobs and being paid large amounts of money. I work in the sector and what I see does not fit those newspaper nonsense headlines, I see youngster’s just about surviving, roof, small amount of food money and some help with language. Many of these people are ambitious and keen to work and contribute to the country that has given them refuge; often the law doesn’t allow them to do that.

We are only a small Island, other countries should help!

Where do asylum seekers in Europe come from?
The four main countries of origin of asylum seekers in Europe in 2002 were Iraq with 50,058 applications, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with 32,656 applications, Turkey with 28,455 applications and Afghanistan with 25,470 applications UNHCR Asylum Applications Lodged in Industrialised Countries: Levels and Trends, 2000-2002).

And who does help, well of course the UK does and many think we are doing more than anyone else, but look at these statistics which is based on the population for the country, per 1,000 and who in Europe does take the most refugees per head of population, have a look:

Which European countries have the highest number of asylum applications?
When the number of asylum applications are compared with the total population of the state in which the applications are made (i.e. applications per 1000 inhabitants), in 2002, out of 25 European countries, Austria was the European country with the highest ratio of applications to population with 4.6 applications per 1000, followed by Norway (3.9), Sweden (3.7), Switzerland (3.7), Ireland (3.1) and Liechtenstein (2.8). Germany had 0.9 applications per 1000 inhabitants and the UK 1.9. (Source: Table 1 UNHCR Asylum Applications Lodged in Industrialised Countries: Levels and Trends, 2000-2002)
The thing is that the UK can use asylum seekers to the benefit of the country as well as help very needy people. The UK has ageing population, many who have paid into pensions, never mind the national pension. Pension funds rely on the working population paying into the fund, which then pays out to those who no longer are in work. Of course if the amount of people working falls to a smaller and smaller amount the ability to continue to pay those who are no longer in work becomes more difficult, hence in the UK the moves to increase the statutory retirement age.

The state pension age is set to increase to 68 by 2050 with anyone aged less than 47 facing a longer working life, the work and pension’s secretary, John Hutton, said.
Only those born before 1959 will be unaffected by plans to phase in a higher retirement age over three decades, outlined in the government’s white paper on pension reforms.
The interesting thing is that most refugees / asylum seekers coming to the UK are of working age. Maybe they will help your pension!
Asylum seekers and refugees will often when given the opportunity create jobs for others, become entrepreneur’s that will benefit the economy and indirectly benefit all of the current population. We need to open our eyes to the benefits as well as the perceived problems; Benefits in our hospitals, in our transport system and in our building programmes.
My view, well some of these young people with tragic stories and terrible life experience can be of great blessing to all of us, we need to see it and help them to do it.

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