The government's failure to provide adequate support for asylum-seekers is putting the lives of mothers and babies at risk, MPs warned today.
Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather said a parliamentary probe had seen evidence suggesting poverty and problems accessing care were leading to increased death rates among pregnant women and their infants.
Refugee and asylum-seeking women make up 12 per cent of maternal deaths but only 0.3 per cent of the population, it found.
Ms Teather chaired the cross-party inquiry into asylum support for children and young people, which took evidence from 200 individuals and organisations.
She said "woeful levels of support" for asylum-seekers were leaving youngsters destitute and homeless, adding: "The evidence we have heard is shocking and appalling."
The inquiry also heard reports of parents with a baby who needed supplementary oxygen having to walk to the hospital carrying the child and oxygen tank for treatment, and a new mother forced to walk home from hospital in the snow with a newborn baby in her arms as she had no money for transport.
It called on the government to ensure asylum support for children is brought into line with mainstream benefits, an immediate abolition of the "section 4" voucher system and a change in the rules to allow parents to work.
Children's Society head Matthew Reed said: "Thousands of children and families are being abandoned and literally left destitute because the system is failing them.
"No child, no matter who they are or where they're from, should be treated with such a complete lack of human dignity."
The Refugee Council's Shaun Nicholas added: "We see people every day who are unable to properly provide for their children because of delays, gaps in provision and inadequate levels of support.
"Whilst families are in this country they should be adequately supported; it is shameful that children are suffering because of government action or inaction."
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