Poverty fears for asylum seekers and refugees in Wales

Migrants continuing to arrive in Hungary Image copyright Getty Images

Refugees and asylum seekers in Wales are more likely to experience poverty, a charity has claimed.

Oxfam Cymru said the qualifications and work experience of those who are granted leave are often not recognised.

It wants the National Assembly to look at how public services support refugee and asylum-seeking communities.

The Welsh Government said it is working to ensure Wales plays its "full part" in responding to the crisis.

Less than half of Welsh councils have housed Syrian refugees so far, despite all 22 pledging to do so.

"Our programme work to support refugees and asylum-seekers in Wales shows that as a group, they are more likely to experience poverty," said Kirsty Davies-Warner, head of Oxfam Cymru.

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Media captionOxfam's Matthew Hemsley describes the challenges refugees face

"People seeking asylum are not permitted to work in the UK, and if they are granted leave to remain, their qualifications and previous work experience are often not recognised.

"This prevents people from being able to use and improve their skills, support their families or contribute to their communities - leading to a life of poverty."

She added: "Access to good quality public services is essential to help these families integrate and move on with their lives.

"This is why we are calling on the National Assembly to scrutinise how well our public services are supporting refugees and asylum-seekers and also look at how quickly and effectively Wales has responded in light of the current crisis."

Oasis Cardiff, an organisation which helps refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into their communities in Cardiff, said they face "significant barriers" accessing public services such as transport, housing, training and healthcare.

Its director Reynette Roberts, said: "Although the publication of the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Delivery Plan was welcomed, we have serious concerns about its quality and ability to deliver.

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"As it stands it is unlikely to help people rebuild their lives nor to make a full contribution to society here in Wales."

The two charities want the assembly's equality, local government and communities committee to scrutinise public services for asylum-seeker and refugees in a consultation which closes on Friday.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Wales has a strong history of providing sanctuary to refugees from all over the world.

"We are proud this tradition is continuing, with communities across Wales providing a warm welcome to Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee their war torn country.

"Through co-ordinating housing, health, education and language services we are giving refugees the support they need to rebuild their lives here and make a valuable contribution to Welsh society."

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