10m of Diana fund to help asylum seekers
By Caroline Davies
Last Updated: 4:02am BST 20/08/2007
The Diana Memorial Fund is marking the 10th anniversary of the Princess's death by earmarking up to 10 million of its remaining 25 million funds on promoting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
(Photo: Compassionate: Diana comforts a victim of the war in Bosnia.)
The money, to be spent over the next five years, will help fund organisations that support the plight of young asylum seekers in particular, and will lobby for the rights of those under 25.
The charity said it had recently completed a strategic document outlining how its remaining money would be spent before it is wound up around 2012. “We have been supporting the cause of refugees and asylum seekers right from the very start,” said Paul Hensby, the fund's campaign manager.
“We remain convinced it is exactly the sort of thing Princess Diana would have been involved in had she lived.”
The fund, which received up to 20 million in donations from the public in the immediate aftermath of the princess's death, has sponsored Refugee Week for the past three years and intends to do so next year.
It also recently announced a 1.5 million initiative with the Prison Reform Trust to reduce child and youth imprisonment in Britain. Money will be used to finance legal advice to young imprisoned asylum seekers.
It says refugees and asylum seekers have been part of the fund's “thematic criteria” since the first round of British grants in 1999, which is in keeping with its aim to “capture the spirit of the princess's humanitarian work”, focusing on the “disadvantaged and the marginalised”.
Sir Roger Singleton, the fund's chairman, said: “The Government hasn't fronted up to the plight of children in these circumstances.” Latest Home Office figures show 60 children being detained under powers granted by the Immigration Act for up to two months.
Fifty unaccompanied children seeking asylum arrive every week.
Princes William and Harry are not involved in the fund, but a spokesman said that they “support, as their mother did, the vulnerable and marginalised young people in society”.
Critics of the scheme include Lord Tebbit, the former Conservative cabinet minister, who said: “We spend vast sums already on asylum seekers and Government figures show that 90 per cent are not genuine cases. They talk about helping the marginalised in society. It's the old and the sick who are marginalised today.”
Migrationwatch UK criticised the move. Sir Andrew Green, its chairman, has said that the initiative smacked of “political correctness”.
Dr Astrid Honeyman, the fund's chief executive, recently outlined plans to spend 10 million on care for terminally ill patients with Aids and other illnesses in nine sub-Saharan African countries.
A further 5 million will go to other causes, including landmine victims and people with learning disabilities.