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Police called out to refugee hostel – Asylum seekers’ tensions flare

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THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK)

January 18, 2001, Thursday Edition 1

BYLINE: by Helen Charlton

Tensions flared yesterday morning at a Tyneside refugee centre where 15 asylum seekers were arrested for causing a disturbance. According to police, Afghani refugees had been expressing dissatisfaction over their accommodation at the Angel Heights hostel in Westgate Road, Newcastle, since last Friday. Police from the West End of the city had been monitoring the situation but had to be called in yesterday after staff said they feared for their safety. Minor damage was caused to the building, which has already been at the centre of violent protests by refugees in the past year, and up to 20 officers were called in to calm the situation. As a result 15 Afghani men were arrested and taken to Etal Lane police station where they were last night being detained for questioning. A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “There were 15 men arrested for various public order offences who had expressed dissatisfaction with their accommodation at Angel Heights.” Andrew Beszant of the Angel Group, responsible for the Newcastle hostel, said: “Tensions in the hostel between various religious and ethnic groups have been building over the past few weeks. “The tensions have related not specifically to the accommodation itself but on two issues. “Firstly the delays they have experienced in having their asylum claims processed. “They believed that it would take no longer than six months for a decision on whether they stayed in this country, but things have dragged on. Secondly they had thought it was unfair the number of cases coming into Newcastle who were being offered shared housing rather than having to live in the hostel. “Angel Heights is regulated by the Home Office, we are under a contract with them. “They have been inspected by officials three times, the most recent was last week, in which they found that the hostel more than meets requirements.” He added: “This weekend an incident occurred where a member of one group assaulted another group and tensions flared. “Managers invited police to help resolve tensions. As a result 31 refugees demanded they be moved immediately and be seen by a Home Office official. “They were moved and as a consequence a further 10 were removed. “Although this was a very tense situation yesterday morning, staff and police dealt with it before it escalated. “These primarily are different groups of people having to live together for long periods of time and tensions have come out.”


Written by Concerned

January 18, 2001 at 11:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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