CAMPAIGNERS have demanded that the Home Office drops enforced travel for asylum seekers, who have to lodge submissions at its premises in Liverpool.

People seeking asylum are expected to travel from all over the UK to the Home Office branch in the city to lodge new applications or submit further submissions in support of a claim.

Despite UK Government guidelines asking people not to travel on public health grounds, the Home Office has categorically refused to allow asylum seekers to post their applications or other documentation.

Robina Qureshi, director of refugee charity Positive Action in Housing, highlighted the case of one asylum seeker with serious health problems, who yesterday made her third journey to the office in Merseyside.

She said: “One of our service users, Nadiyah, 48, is travelling to Liverpool by train today to lodge her new asylum application at the Liverpool Home Office.

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“She has serious health problems and is a high risk category. This is the third time she has made this journey.

“Her lawyer phoned the Home Office in Liverpool and suggested that, at least while the coronavirus epidemic was in progress, clients should be allowed to post their documents.

The National: Robina Qureshi said it was ridiculous that a government office wasn't following government adviceRobina Qureshi said it was ridiculous that a government office wasn't following government advice

“The Home Office categorically refused to consider this.

“It is utter madness in the current situation to make people travel via public transport at this time. “All that is involved is that an envelope of evidence is handed in.

“This takes a maximum of 5 minutes.”

Qureshi said Nadiyah had stayed with a host called Joanne, who had offered to travel with her, but the woman had insisted on going alone.

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“Joanne had planned to travel with her but Nadiya insisted that Joanne did not do so as she is over 70 and has health issues,” said Qureshi.

“We are therefore calling on the Home Office to drop this frankly dangerous idea of forcing asylum seekers to travel to Liverpool during this epidemic.

“It’s shocking in the current context that the Home Office has not thought of reviewing how asylum seekers will be travelling to submit documents.

“MPs should demand a travel ban to Liverpool and allow documents be submitted to Brand Street in Glasgow, or else do the decent thing and let them post their documents.

“Due to poverty and poor diet and the stress of Home Office delays that run into years, asylum seekers especially are likely to have weakened immune systems. This is a public health disaster waiting to happen, which will risk lives.”

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Qureshi said there were 5000 asylum seekers in Glasgow, which has the UK’s highest asylum population.

She added: “It is beyond belief that the Home Office – a government department – would go against government advice NOT to travel.

“We are calling on the Home Secretary and the Home Office to step in and stop all travel to Liverpool and allow refugees and asylum seekers to post their submissions in order to let everyone stay safe.

“We also call on the Home Office to drop reporting to Brand Street and other Home Office reporting centres in order to protect public health.”

The Home Office said: “Anyone who needs to stay at home should. Failed asylum seekers should contact the Home Office if they cannot travel to an appointment.

“We are putting in place alternative arrangements to ensure those who cannot attend an appointment can continue to lodge a further submission.”