Failed asylum seekers are being forced to choose between destitution in the UK or persecution at home, an Oxfam report has claimed.
Many who appeal over failed cases are reduced to living hand-to-mouth lives in social and legal limbo, the report said, and the majority fail to apply for support because they have little faith in the system.
The report paints a uniformly bleak picture of the grim daily life of failed asylum seekers in the UK, claiming that some develop mental health problems as a result and others are pushed into the sex trade as a way to earn money.
Oxfam and the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University, South Wales, have jointly published the new report.
Many failed asylum seekers initially lose cases because they have no access to legal advice or do not speak English, it states, while nearly a third of refused asylum cases are overturned on appeal, highlighting the poor quality of the decision-making process.
The report reveals that many are destitute and depend on the kindness of other asylum seekers to let them sleep on their floor or share a hot meal.
It also found that most are reduced to wandering the streets for hours, in fear of being caught and deported, because they have nowhere to go.
Kate Wareing, Oxfam director of UK poverty, said: "These are people who have made heartbreaking decisions to leave their families and flee their homes. They end up living as ghosts on the streets of Britain because of government policy and decision-making that strips them of their rights and dignity.
"The current system is designed to make people feel as low as possible and sends out a message that those who are refused asylum are not even worthy of our compassion. It goes against any sense of our common decency."
Heaven Crawley, Professor of International Migration at Swansea University, said: "This research gives us a rare insight into what life is like for refused asylum seekers in the UK and shows that there is a deep-rooted lack of faith in the current system."