People seeking asylum forced to share beds with strangers in Coronavirus emergency

By April 15, 2020 April 17th, 2020 Blog post

A report in The Guardian today revealed the shocking housing conditions people seeking asylum are being forced to live in during the coronavirus crisis. They’re completely unfit to protect their health.

The story featured Simon*, who is seeking asylum and has received support from our Asylum Crisis Team. He’s currently being housed in a south London hostel and sent a video of the cramped room he is being forced to share with a rotation of strangers. The room has three beds, two singles and a double, and at times strangers have even been forced to share a bed.

Simon has latent tuberculosis, which puts him at a higher risk that the virus will make him seriously ill. He said: “They tell you to sleep in the double bed with other people. Every three or four days new people come in. I am very scared. You are not in a safe place.”

For years we’ve been challenging the Home Office over the serious failings within the asylum system – but they are now directly putting lives at risk.

People like Simon are not being treated with humanity. How can they be expected to follow the Government’s coronavirus guidelines when they’re given no choice but to live in these conditions? It is a scandal, and it needs to end.

Refugee Action is working round the clock to support people who come to us in crisis, helping them access food, support and accommodation. But more must be done by the Home Office to ensure people are given access to safe housing which does not put their lives at risk.

You can read more about our response to the coronavirus here, and read the full report in The Guardian here. Refugees and people seeking asylum have seen the very worst of humanity. During this unprecedented crisis, we have the chance to show them the best.