UK refuses group entry to France’s Syrian refugees
7 Oct 2013
British border police on Friday ruled out group entry for some 60 Syrian asylum seekers at the French port of Calais who are trying to enter the UK. British officials said they could only examine the refugee claims on a case-by-case basis.
A team of British border police on Friday ruled out a group entry for some 60 Syrian asylum seekers blocking a gangway at a ferry terminal in the French port of Calais. …
But the protesting refugees, most of whom arrived in Calais a month ago, have voiced disappointment at the way they were treated in France.
“We thought that France was the country where human rights are respected,” said Tarik, a 19-year-old.
The refugees had affixed cardboard signs reading “Take us to the UK”, and “We want to talk to David Cameron“.
“But we live outside like dogs, hunted down by the police, we see we are not welcome, how can we seek asylum here?” Tarik said.
Ali, a 38-year-old, said although French President Francois Hollande had taken a strong stand against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons, the French were not welcoming at all.
“Why does the president say one thing and the police another?” Ali said, adding that he had spent $13,000 (9,500 euros) to come to a country where the “president said ‘we must help Syrians’”.
“Here even animals are better treated than us,” he said.
Young survivors of torture, war exhibit their art at top London gallery
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Thu, 7 Nov 2013 03:00 PM
Author: Alex Whiting
LONDON – Warm orange petals cluster together to form a flower, surrounded by fragments of what looks like a broken mirror and drops of blood-red paint.
The artist, Edwige, is one of a group of young refugees and asylum-seekers who have been using art to try to make sense of their past, and find ways to cope with the limbo in which they now live as they wait – sometimes for years – for the British authorities to decide whether they can stay.
Edwige says she and her mother were targeted by pro-government militia who attacked their home in Ivory Coast in 2011, killed her mother for her connections with the previous government, and gang-raped her. She went into hiding for 10 months, then fled to India, and came to Britain early this year, aged 25.
“I long to be surrounded by my family, but that is impossible. They are all dead,” she wrote for an exhibition of the group’s work to be shown at one of London’s top contemporary art galleries. “I am still surviving, but not like any ordinary person, or someone who is free. I feel like a prisoner. That is the reality of being a refugee.” …
Angel, from Uganda, smashed up glass bottles and used the shards to cover her painting of a road winding through green hills, to emphasise the loneliness and fragility of living in foreign places.
Some of the most revealing works in the exhibition are masks whose fronts are painted in large blocks of colour and, in one case, the words “everything is cool”. But the backs portray brokenness, anguish and pain. …
Britain rejects most asylum applications. In 2011, only about 30 percent of the 36,000 applications reviewed were granted.
Asylum-seekers in Britain often have to wait years before they know whether they’ve been successful. In the meantime they are not allowed to work, many subsisting on about £5 ($8) a day in state benefits to pay for food, clothing and toiletries.
Many in the group survive on hand-outs, “literally surfing from one kind soul to another kind soul”, Rankin said. For the exhibition, they had to use paint scraped from dried-out paint pots, old canvases, and bits of discarded metal, wood, and cloth.
Even if an application is successful, the person is usually given permission to stay in Britain for just five years, and the authorities can review the case at any time. This makes it difficult for people to find work and plan a future.
“A lot of them were just sitting around waiting for a result from the Home Office (Interior Ministry), some of them for years,” Rankin said. “So the idea is, OK, who do you want to become? Let’s start working towards who you want to become.”
Even in the worst case scenario, if they have to go back, they will take with them some skills, confidence and drive to fulfil their potential, Rankin said.
“Human beings can be such barbaric animals, but at the same time we’ve got amazing potential and we can achieve amazing things,” he said.
“These young adults arrive fragmented individuals, fragmented souls. But it’s about being able to help them … to find those pieces and put them back in the way they want to be put back together,” he added.