Denying migrants access to services amid the Covid-19 pandemic is an “act of negligence”, the Jesuit Refugee Service UK has said.
The statement comes after analysis, recently released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), suggested there is a stark difference on the impact of Covid-19 between different ethnic groups with the difference in death rates between the groups partly accounted for by socioeconomic disadvantage with other causes still to be identified.
Sarah Teather, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK said: “Given the large disparity in death-rates for different ethnic groups, it is critical that we do all within our power to remove obstacles we know make a difference. That is why the Jesuit Refugee Service UK and around 30 other organisations are calling on the government to grant a period of leave to remain for all with insecure immigration status and to end its use of No Access to Public Funds policies denying migrants access to services and welfare.”
As previously reported by The Catholic Universe, JRS UK, along with around 30 other front line organisations supporting asylum seekers and migrants with insecure immigration status wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month, urging him to grant all without this security a period of leave to remain, for their safety, wider public health, and so that all may be engaged in the country’s recovery. The organisation also called on the government to immediately end its use of NRPF restrictions.
The High Court recently ruled that the government’s policy of denying families access to the welfare safety net, which increases the risk of destitution and risks public health by forcing people into overcrowded accommodation and onto the streets, was unlawful.
“There is a huge amount we don’t know about why some ethnic groups are more severely affected than others. But we do know that insecure immigration status and NRPF restrictions are a barrier for accessing safe housing, a barrier to the health service and that deny many the basic essentials needed to live,” said Ms Teather. “Leaving so many people denied access to essential services and support when they are the very group also most likely to be impacted by the virus is an act of negligence.
“Work must continue to work to understand the risk factors underlying this stark difference in death rates between people of different ethnicities. And in the meantime, the government must act quickly to do what it can to reduce the impact on people’s lives. Now is the time for the government to grant a period of leave for all and to immediately lift NRPF restrictions.”
Picture: A migrant woman and child are seen outside their tent in a makeshift camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on 2nd April 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Elias Marcou, Reuters).