Fresh questions today about the way our society treats vulnerable children.
Firstly, the Welsh Refugee Council has taken the unusual step of going public with concerns about an individual case – an Afghan refugee named Mashal Jabari, an orphan who arrived in the UK last October.
At the heart of the case is a dispute over Mashal’s age.
When Mashal arrived in the UK, he was assessed as being over 18 and was sent to Cardiff where he was initially placed in a hostel for adult new arrivals.
The Welsh Refugee Council was convinced he was clearly only 14 rather than 18. It says that both his GP and social workers in Cardiff also believe he is under 18 (although social workers never got to carry out a full age assessment).
However, they have not been able to persuade the UK Border Agency.
In November, Mashal was refused asylum. On Monday, Mashal went to the Border Agency office in Cardiff with documents from his brother, Zaki, asking for his case to be reassessed because his brother has been given refugee status.
Mashal was taken into detention and spent a day in a police cell. He has now been sent to Campsfield detention centre in Oxfordshire ready to be “removed” on March 9.
According to the Welsh Refugee Council: “Our children’s advocacy officer visited him in Cardiff Bay police station and he was distraught beyond description. He had been put in padded clothing for fear of self-harm.”
One wonders how our society could treat a traumatised person of any age like this.
Secondly, figures revealed by the office of South Wales West AM, Alun Cairns, today again highlight the desperate shortage of social workers in Wales. The shortage means that hundreds of children have not been allocated a social worker.
“These figures show a worrying number of at-risk children in Wales have not been allocated a social worker,” said Mr Cairns.
“I was very concerned to learn that councils in my own region had large numbers of at-risk children, with 116 unallocated cases in the Swansea Council and 120 in Bridgend.”
The figures reveal a snapshot of the situation on September 1 last year but council funds are going to be squeezed further and recruiting social workers remains a difficult task.
And while vulnerable children wait to be allocated a social worker, it is impossible to know whether or not they are at serious risk.
Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’
Tags: asylum, politics wales, race, tolerance, torture
Fresh questions today about the way our society treats vulnerable children.
Tags: asylum, race, tolerance, torture
Around 1,000 children are locked up every year by the UK’s immigration system.
They have often fled countries where they experienced violence, war and discrimination.
The children have committed no crime but, according to the Children’s Society, many experience “depression, weight-loss, bed-wetting and even self-harm”.
The Society has joined with Bail for Immigration Detainees to create the OutCry! campaign to demand an end to this Government policy.
It has already gained a great deal of support.
The Royal Colleges of Paediatrics, GPs and Psychiatry, and the Faculty of Public Health last year issued a joint statement which said the “immigration detention of children is harmful and unacceptable” and demanding that the Government “stop detaining children without delay”.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has called on Gordon Brown to end “what is, in effect, state sponsored cruelty”.
And just before Christmas Dame Anne Owers, chief inspector of prisons, published her report on an unannounced visit to Tinsley House immigration detention centre, at Gatwick Airport, calling the conditions there “wholly unacceptable” for women and children.
At the time of that report, the UK Border Agency issued a statement to say that “treating women and children with care and compassion is a priority (for us)”.
But it is a Government policy without compassion and OutCry! believes that General Election year 2010 should be the year politicians shut the door on it.
Tags: asylum, politics wales, tolerance
Nearly a quarter of people in Wales believe 100,000 or more asylum seekers come to the UK every year – four times the actual figure.
The figure is revealed in a special ICM poll commissioned by the British Red Cross to mark Refugee Week.
Accoring to Sir Nick Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross: “There are many myths and stereotypes around this vulnerable group, and that is why this year the British Red Cross is urging people to look beyond the refugee and asylum seeker labels, and see people as the individuals they are.”
He said the ICM poll found that 23 per cent of people in Wales believed 100,000 or more asylum seekers come to the UK each year, when the actual figure is around 25,000.
“On average people in Wales also think the UK is home to 28 per cent of the world’s asylum seekers, when in fact only around three per cent seek refuge in this country,” he added.
“Reassuringly, however, 92 per cent of people in Wales have positive associations with refugees living in the UK. Confusion and misunderstanding should not be allowed to erode the UK’s long tradition of providing sanctuary for people fleeing persecution.”
The British Red Cross is using Refugee Week to highlight the positive contributions made by refugees and asylum seekers through its Look Beyond The Label campaign.
“Refugee week gives us the chance to not only celebrate individuals like these, but also to take pride in our own role in offering safety to those in desperate need,” added Sir Nick.
Tags: arms war, bnp, history, spanish civil war, tolerance, Welsh history
Three major events are being planned this month to commemorate those who fell in the battle against fascism in the last century.
Searchlight Cymru’s Wales Hope not Hate day on Sunday, May 17, will also highlight what the organisation describes as the “continuing threat of fascism in Wales in 2009”.
“This threat, although commonly perceived as being just against black and minority ethnic people, is actually a threat against us all,” said Searchlight Cymru.
“Everyone is threatened by the British National Party and everyone can work together to remove that threat.
“This special day will give supporters as well as Euro election campaigner’s space to come together and outline to the people of Wales just why the BNP and what it stands for is a threat to people like me and you.”
In Flint, Swansea and Cardiff, from 10.30am, simultaneous events will feature readings at the Cenotaph of 100 names of those who fell in World War 2 against fascism, a laying of wreaths and two minute’s silence.
Cardiff will also hold a similar event at the Spanish Civil War International Brigades Memorial at Cathays Park from 11.40am.
Tags: asylum, politics wales, tolerance
Campaigners in Swansea are celebrating after young mum Venera Aliyeva was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The UK Government had been trying to deport her and her two children to Azerbaijan.
But as What Is Wales? reported in 2007, locals began a campaign to have them returned from Yarl’s Wood detention centre to her home in South Wales.
Venera had previously suffered persecution on two counts in Azerbaijan: because she is a Baptist and an Armenian.
Today the Campaign for Asylum Justice revealed the family would now be allowed to stay in Swansea.
Tags: arms war, iraq, tolerance
A week after What Is Wales? asked what Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair was doing about the crisis in Gaza he has apparently sprung into action.
Back from holiday he has been on the telephone to Jordan’s King Abdullah II and is planning a series of meetings today.
AFP reports that King Abdullah told Mr Blair that the world’s silence over Gaza has become “unacceptable”.
What has the former crusading prime minister been up to then as the hungry and desperate people of Gaza await the tanks and troops of the Israeli Defence Force?
According to the Daily Telegraph one of the things which has been occupying his mind is the design of the Congressional Gold Medal which he has received from George W Bush.
Mr Blair has not yet been able to pick up the medal, awarded for being Bush’s “staunch and steadfast ally” during the invasion of Iraq, and like Dick Dastardly’s sidekick Muttley, he’s understandably keen to see it looks just right.
:: Demonstrations and events relating to the crisis in Gaza are continuing in Wales. See the comments section of the previous post for details.
Tags: arms war, tolerance
I never thought I’d ask this question but where is Tony Blair?
As Hamas and the Israeli government square up – home-made rockets against F-18s – just where is our Middle East “peace envoy”?
I thought he might have come out and done something (although on past behaviour I don’t know what I could have been expecting.)
The people of Gaza have been living under a crippling blockade since the summer of 2007.
Its population of 1.5 million lack fuel, food and medical supplies. Seventy per cent are living without electricity.
In November 2008, John Ging, the United Nations’ senior official in Gaza, told the Washington Post: “This is a disastrous situation, and it’s getting worse and worse… It is unprecedented that the UN is unable to get its supplies in to a population under such obvious distress; many of these families have been subsisting on this ration for years, and they are living hand-to-mouth.”
That same month, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, while urging Hamas to end its rocket attacks, demanded the Israeli government lift its blockade.
“The Secretary-General is concerned that food and other life saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people, and emphasizes that measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and should cease immediately,” said a UN report.
Three out of four people in Gaza are living in poverty and 45 per cent are unemployed. Those, too, are UN figures.
According to the Red Cross, “chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern”, while Unicef has reported that one in five of the population has access to six hours of water every five days – and other’s access is limited.
Today, on the third day of the latest violence, the death toll stands at 312 inside Gaza (according to Hamas) and two in Israel (according to Israeli police).
And what will the latest round of bloodshed achieve?
Robert Fisk notes in today’s Independent: “The blood-splattering has its own routine. Yes, Hamas provoked Israel’s anger, just as Israel provoked Hamas’s anger, which was provoked by Israel, which was provoked by Hamas, which … See what I mean? Hamas fires rockets at Israel, Israel bombs Hamas, Hamas fires more rockets and Israel bombs again and … Got it? And we demand security for Israel – rightly – but overlook this massive and utterly disproportionate slaughter by Israel.”
As Israel’s people prepare to go to the polls to elect a new prime minister in the new year, its army is apparently preparing to go into Gaza on the ground.
Fisk takes an Israeli general’s claim that “no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them” and notes that when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, Britain did not unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic.
“Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn’t want to lower ourselves to the IRA’s level.”
And what of the people inside Gaza? What is their reaction to the Israeli government’s blockade and assault likely to be?
A yearning for friendship and peace with its neighbour? Or the harbouring of further hatred that will continue to expose the uselessness of our Middle East “peace envoys” for decades to come?