Press Release – 04 February 2018

New research raises serious concerns about conditions of asylum accommodation

One year on from the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on the COMPASS contracts and asylum accommodation, the human rights organisation Refugee Rights Europe conducted independent field research to investigate and document the situation for asylum-seekers in one of the main accommodation centres in London. Refugee Rights Europe’s researchers conducted semi- structured interviews with approximately 17% of the residents (33 individuals) in Arabic, Dari and English, just outside the accommodation centre. Read the full report here.

Snapshot of key findings:

  • 64% of respondents felt‘unsafe’ or ‘very unsafe’ inside the accommodation.
  • 30% of respondents said they had experiencedverbal abusein their accommodation, both
    by fellow residents and by the management or staff.
  • 46% of respondents did not know where thefire exit was located.
  • O73% of respondents said their accommodation was‘dirty’ or ‘very dirty’ when they moved
  • Living conditions are largely inadequate in many places, with 40.8% of respondents stating that their health issues had started due to the unhealthy environment in the camp.
  • 82% of respondents said there weremice in their rooms.
  • Only 44% of respondents who recalled signing a document upon moving in to the accommodation said they understood the contents of the documents they had signed.

What the respondents told us:

  • “I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress because of what happened to me in detention [in my country of origin]. I don’t sleep well here. It’s very, very bad here for me.”
  • “The kitchen is full of cockroaches. It’s very horrible”
  • “We can’t stay like this. I already asked my doctor to write to the Home Office. For me it’s not good but they say it is good for us”

Marta Welander, head of Refugee Rights Europe, said:

"An entire year has passed since the Home Affairs Select Committee released its alarming report on asylum accommodation in the UK, yet it seems as though little to nothing has changed. Our research revealed terrible hygiene standards and widespread problems with vermin. Many of the asylum seekers we interviewed said they felt unsafe in their accommodation, in particular the younger ones or those diagnosed with PTSD. Others explained they’re experiencing health problems which they attributed to the unsanitary conditions in their bed room and communal areas."

Samer Mustafa, field research coordinator, said:

"The Home Office must ensure that individuals seeking sanctuary in the UK are provided with humane living conditions. The average time the respondents had spent in this particular accommodation centre was nearly twelve months. This is a very long time for someone to endure sub-par living conditions and poor hygiene standards."

About Refugee Rights Europe

Refugee Rights Europe is a non-governmental human rights organisation and UK registered charity. We aim to fill information gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Europe by conducting our own independent field research. Our organisation is run by individuals spanning a broad range of sectors and backgrounds. We are independent of any political ideology or religion, united by our commitment to defend the human rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable groups of people.

For enquiries, please contact:

Marta Welander
T: +44 (0)7880 230979