Sunderland death sparks support plea

Local communities in Sunderland need funding and support to help
them adapt to dispersed asylum seekers, according to the chief
executive of the North of England Refugee Service.

Daoud Zaaroura made the plea following last week’s suspected racist
killing of Iranian asylum seeker Payman Bahmani in Sunderland.
Bahmani was stabbed during a confrontation with a group of white
people in the town of Hendon near the house he had been dispersed

Zaaroura said local people needed additional support, resources and
information in order to accept dispersed asylum seekers into the
community, because the city did not have a history of working with

He said: “Asking people who are living on the poverty line or below
it to support asylum seekers with equally limited means is
impossible without additional funding.”

He added that Sunderland was well behind nearby Newcastle and the
Tees Valley in the way it was coping with asylum seekers.

Refugee Council chief executive Nick Hardwick commented: “It is
clear to us that many people are very unclear who refugees are and
why they are here. This is because they are not being presented
with the facts.”

A Sunderland Council spokesperson said the murder would not lead to
a review of the housing policy of asylum seekers, and that the
authority tried to place people in accommodation with those of
similar backgrounds.

He added: “We are developing an integration strategy to cover all
asylum seekers and refugees in the city. This will work alongside
the already established informal network in the community.”

Meanwhile, official government figures have revealed asylum
applications in the UK have increased by 4 per cent in the second
quarter of the year to 26,300 compared with 25,200 in the first

The rise is the highest since the fourth quarter of 2000, and a 28
per cent increase from 15,895 in the second quarter of 2001.

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