Within 24 hours of Glasgow Council launching a new strategy to
combat racist attacks against asylum seekers, violence broke out
again in the city’s streets and statutory authorities were accused
of playing “a PR game”.
Following orchestrated violent attacks on asylum seekers and
refugees in the Sighthill area of Glasgow over the past few months,
the Lord Provost, Alex Mosson, last week convened an emergency
meeting of council departments including social work and the asylum
support project, Strathclyde Police, the Scottish Refugee Council
and councillors to devise a strategy to combat the violence.
The resultant racial incident strategy includes a threat to
evict the families of anyone found to be participating in racist
attacks, a commitment to closer policing and a range of community
development, housing and education activities aimed at integration
of refugees with the existing community.
But within hours, three Sudanese asylum seekers were subjected
to a vicious assault by a group of 10 youths. The incident followed
the pattern of previous attacks. Meanwhile, on the same day, Robina
Qureshi, director of Positive Action on Housing, said: “I suspect
this new strategy is nothing but a public relations exercise. There
is no evidence at all that asylum seekers are being afforded extra
protection in spite of Strathclyde Police’s promises.”
Glasgow is the main dispersal area for asylum seekers and
refugees in Scotland, which is now second only to London as a
dispersal site for the UK. The council says that, from a negligible
number, within a few months 4,500 families have moved into the city
and it estimates that the figure could double by the end of the
year. Since the strategy was drawn up, there have also been
increased reports of serious incidents of racist violence mainly
around Sighthill and the Red Row flats, the main location points
Qureshi claimed that too little had been done too late. She
said: “Refugees and asylum seekers are vulnerable immediately on
their arrival and should be treated as such by the automatic
introduction of devices such as fireproof letter boxes and alarms.
So far there has been no evidence at all of any extra
Charles Gordon, leader of Glasgow Council, placed the blame
elsewhere saying that “the wheels of justice were grinding a bit
slowly”. The Scottish Refugee Council, one of the partnership
organisations to the agreement, described Glasgow Council’s
initiative as “encouraging”.
But Qureshi argued it did not answer the victims’ needs saying:
“Asylum seekers do not ask for integrated English language classes
or the like to provide safety. They ask for immediate, real
protection. They are asylum seekers twice over – first in the
country they fled and now, here, in the city of Glasgow.”
At the time of writing no one had been arrested for the latest
attacks on asylum seekers in Glasgow.