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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Report on UK's 'dispersed refugees'
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¬†Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Four young men from these widely separated corners of Africa have been dropped by NASS - the National Asylum Support service, a branch of the Home Office - into a rundown council estate in Peterborough in East Anglia. They are all asylum seekers, pawns in the government's plans to get them away from the south-east. For survival they are dependent on a weekly allowance of £28 in vouchers and £10 in cash, which have to be collected in the centre of Peterborough. The vouchers can only be exchanged in certain shops. Most shops still do not give change. To obtain additional cash they exchange £5 vouchers for £4 in money. Bail conditions require them to report to a police station two or three times a week, which means an hour-long walk both ways along the main road into town. There were reports of attacks on refugees On to Bradford, where Justin, once a frequent visitor to our office, when he was in emergency accommodation nearby, is now housed in a hostel which NASS must consider particularly suitable. It is a hostel for non-Christians and Justine is a Christian. Several asylum seekers have found work in Bradford. Whether legally or not there lives have been made much easier by the money they earn. There is also a Refugee Support Group composed of local residents and asylum seekers, which recently took part in a demonstration in Trafalgar Square. The Zimbabweans we visited were also placed in a depressing council estate with children fighting in the street. Zimbabwean's staple diet in maize, which cannot be bought in the shops that accept vouchers. The one merit in this sad location was the relatively short walk into town. On the darker side, there were reports of attacks on refugees by local residents. The stairs are like a ladder The last visit was to four Zimbabweans we had known at the Thorncliffe reception Centre near Heathrow Airport, and previously at Campsfield Detention centre near Oxford. NASS has acquired from a private landlord a small terraced house, in a cul-de-sac on the Birmingham side of Wolverhampton. The front door opens straight onto to street. The stairs are like a ladder. The only front room doubles as a bedroom. But with no centre for asylum seekers, no educational facilities and little money, the main problem for these young people is boredom. They can also be humiliated. When they were buying trainers recently the cashier held up their vouchers to the light in full view of everyone in the shop.
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