Alaa Eldin has been sleeping rough under a rowing boat on a beach and said he has been homeless for five months. He has been unable to work after his asylum claim was withdrawn, he said.
Having crossed the Channel in a rubber dinghy over two years ago, Mr Eldin, 25, is now keen to leave Britain and try and find work. The Syrian refugee is attempting to sneak in the back of lorries at the Port of Dover in Kent to get back to mainland Europe.
He said: “I want to work and get a job as a plasterer. But I have been here for more than two years and I’ve been out on the street for five months
“I don’t have money. I don’t have anything. I’m tired and I want to leave. Because I don’t have a home I have to sleep on the beach and sometimes it’s so cold I have to light a fire.”
He fled the Syrian war as a teenager nine years ago.
But he told other asylum seekers that due to delays in the asylum system, it was very difficult to secure the right to remain and work.
“The system is broken,” Mr Eldin said. “England has come down. It’s not like before. There is nothing here.”
After fleeing the war-torn country, Mr Eldin moved to Germany with some his family. He then sought asylum in the UK in August 2021, travelling in a people trafficker’s dinghy.
When the process began to drag on, he concluded he had no future in the UK and applied to leave voluntarily – but this meant officials withdrew his asylum case, leaving him no longer entitled to any type of state benefit or accommodation, cutting him off completely.
According to Home Office data, of 112,138 initial asylum decisions between January and December 28 last year, 35,119 were “non-substantive” – which include withdrawn and paused applications. This represents 31 percent of 2023 asylum decisions that were either withdrawn or paused – an increase from 22 percent in 2022 and 16 percent in 2021.
The Government is closing 50 hotels used for migrants to reduce the £8million-a-night cost to taxpayers.
As a result councils are facing frantic requests for them to re-home people in hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation and subsidised flats. Waiting lists for Britons needing housing are already long.
Mr Eldin said if he could get his asylum status returned and was guaranteed to succeed in his application, he would stay in Britain. However, he said he needed a solicitor to do so – and would need to wait five months for that to happen.
He is being helped with legal advice by the Dover Outreach Centre, a homelessness charity, and uses its Sunrise community cafe for meals.
Noel Beamish, the trustees’ chairman of Dover Outreach, told KentOnline: “Alaa is one of many asylum seekers wanting to leave the UK. The asylum process takes a considerable amount of time and they are put in accommodation that doesn’t suit them. They find things don’t work for them in the UK so they want to go elsewhere in Europe.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “It is long-standing government policy that we do not routinely comment on individual cases. If an individual does not have the right to be in the UK, we will make every effort to return to their country of origin or a safe third country.”