The British government is forcing people who have fled dangerous countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe into destitution and the risk of violence in Britain, the Refugee Council has warned.
The charity published a report today to coincide with Human Rights Day which said that thousands of people who have been refused asylum here but fear returning to their home countries are being left to live in poverty with no rights while they remain in Britain.
The Between a Rock and a Hard Place report highlighted human rights abuses and persecution facing many refused asylum-seekers on return to the DRC, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Abuses included mass rape and sexual violence against women and girls by state forces and non-state militia groups in the DRC, long-term imprisonment or the death penalty for those who evade compulsory national service in Eritrea, indiscriminate attacks on civilians by government and al-Shabaab forces in Somalia.
It also revealed the torture and killing of those seen to oppose the Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe and the harassment, arrest and torture of human rights activists, journalists and government opponents in Sudan.
It said that people from these countries made up 20 per cent of those accessing the charity's destitution services in the last year, many of whom were women.
A fifth of women accessing the Refugee Council's therapeutic services had faced violence since arriving in Britain and a high proportion were destitute, the charity added.
It also exposed the plight of those who remained in Britain because the reason that caused them to flee their country remains a reality.
The British government expects people who are refused asylum here to return voluntarily or be returned forcibly - but this often does not happen.
Instead, those who stay are often forced into destitution and risk, as they are left unsupported and unprotected by the government.
Refugee Council advocacy manager Lisa Doyle said: "For many people, the horrifying situations that caused them to flee their countries in the first place very much remain a reality.
"It is no wonder many people fear returning and make the difficult decision to stay here, far from family and with few rights.
"Those who stay are often forced into poverty, and women find themselves in violent situations.
"We urge the government to recognise the dangers facing people on return to their countries and change their policies to reflect this."
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