LETTER: Reasons why asylum seekers head to the UK

Your anonymous (why?) correspondent (“Human Rights is now a sick joke”) claims not to want to get into a debate about asylum seekers and then proceeds to do so despite their previous remarks on the subject having been shown, with evidence cited, to have been wrong.

Ah but that doesn’t matter according to their latest letter, there are other cases which show how undeserving asylum seekers are.

Unlike your correspondent I write from experience of asylum seekers, not other immigrants, trying to make a new life here. Nearly all of those I dealt with had good reason to leave their home countries. It is surprising to those of us living secure, comfortable lives in this country how many countries these conditions do not apply to.

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Why do they leave their countries? I worked with a lot of Kurdish young men who came here during Saddam Hussein’s rule. They left to escape being drafted into his army which was engaged in a pointless bloody war with Iran. Families that could do so paid to get their sons away to safety - wouldn’t your correspondent do the same for their children?

As with most asylum seekers they came from families that could afford to get them away. You don’t find farm labourers from Zimbabwe here, they can only afford to get across the borders into South Africa or Zambia where they have to scratch whatever living they can. The ones who get here are often people with responsible jobs in their own countries, they want to make a contribution to this society and are grateful if allowed to stay.

Some are unable to get jobs suitable for their qualifications but will take any rather than rely on state handouts. Until recently if you got petrol from one Manchester garage you might have been served by a man who had been the head of a civil service department in his own country.

He didn’t come here to get more money or welfare benefits, he came becasue he had to, his standard of living fell drastically by coming here.

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Many asylum seekers are young people who have been sent by relatives financing them. We may sub our children to help them through university, they sub theirs to escape persecution, rape, torture and death. Why do they come here rather than elsewhere?

One of the answers is our former empire. Most asylum seekers here come from countries we have either ruled or directly influenced. The same applies to other former imperial powers. Asylum seekers from Indonesia go to Holland, Algerians to France, etc. In addition they speak English and have been taught to believe the British treat people fairly. But they have not always been treated fairly, they have been villified by dishonest sections of the press and abused by people.

One of the first African asylum seekers in Blackburn was followed in the street near her accommodation and abuse and filth shouted at her. She was only 17 and had suffered unimaginable treatment in an African civil war. These are the asylum seekers I know, not murderers and terrorists but ordinary people who have lived and suffered through extraordinary circumstances.

Like your correspondent I feel strongly about this for I have seen at first hand what he or she knows only from shameful reports from parts of the press that have been shown to lie. My original point was that asylum seekers have nothing to do with bedroom tax or the Human Rights Act for that matter so why bring them into the argument and persist in doing so.


Hawthorne Place,


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