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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 12:29 GMT
Your comments. Panorama 7.2.00.
February 7 2000. Your comments on Human Traffic.
Come to Dover and have a real look at what it is like down here, it is the pits now and everyone is fed up with them. If this appears racist then I am afraid I must stand up and be called racist for I do not, and millions of others, want not one of them over here and believe that they should all go back to where they come from and manage. If it was any of us going to other countries I bet we wouldn't get such a good life we would probably be shipped straight back.
Mrs. H. Gower
Britain has a growing population of pensioners and a diminishing rate of childbirth. This points towards a smaller future workforce contributing to pensions, taxes and the economy in general. Therefore, from a quite selfish national point of view, it is logical to welcome people to this country, especially in the form of refugees...Many thanks for continually satisfying this viewer's curiosity with top class programmes
Another great piece of investigative journalism. However, though it's important to highlight the effect of Government Asylum legislation on those fleeing for their lives, what about introducing some balance to the debate. Why is the focus on always on 'poor' asylum seekers who are judged 'unworthy' or 'contemptible' if they arrive on these shores with reasons other than fleeing for their lives? This perhaps makes good TV and enables viewers to judge their plight in isolation. What about injecting some real journalism to the debate and ask who are the economic migrants who are coming to Britain? What about investing this aspect of immigration? I'd like to know why programmes on asylum always ignore the real economic migrants. People from S.Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe.
Of course the UK should continue its obligation to the UN charter; however our altruism is being taken advantage of. An estimated 100,000 asylum seekers last year (excluding dependants) and rising is totally unsustainable. If this trend continues, within 10-15 years, the population will have risen over 1,000,000 (plus their entitlement to allow dependants). These are issues that the liberal brigade cannot ignore. Britain has always been a tolerant and fair nation - regrettably recent trends have tested it to the limit.
I have just watched the programme Panorama "Human Traffic" and was shocked and disgusted at the reactions of some of the people to the news that asylum seekers would be moving into "their" community. I have never seen so many evil, narrow minded, bigoted people in one documentary. Watching this reminded me why I moved to the Netherlands from the UK. Some of the people featured in the programme completely disgusted me and made me feel ashamed to be British.
I have to say that last night's programme on Human Traffic was indeed an entertaining, informative and definitely the best that I have seen by far.
I am an international student here in UK since Sept 1999. Stop talking about charity beginning at home, and also that the government should take care of the British first. I think that everyone is selfish because there is no government that do not look after its people and all those of you that claims that you are not racist, because the fact of the matter is, everyone that made such comments are.
Those who made such comments should stop putting blames or finding faults with the government or the illegal immigrant or social/economic problems but rather take a look from within. Start asking questions like why UK is breaking away from Scotland and Wales?
This Panorama was yet another programme which failed to grasp the central issues of the asylum problem. The reporter was clearly taken in by the sympathy factor and failed to follow through on the significant points which the woman made which pointed to her real reason for being here - the better life and the fact that her husband could not get a job at home. We have an Immigration system which has been hamstrung by outdated principles which dictate that all asylum claims must be dealt with on a individual basis. The result is a knowledge within the migrant community that sheer numbers will overwhelm the system and make it much more unlikely that removal will ever take place. The claims of certain groups which are currently overwhelming the system must be dealt with on a block basis rather than an individual one. Eastern European Roma do not qualify for asylum under the auspices of the Convention and must be refused and removed on arrival, as happens in other European countries. The result would be an instant reduction in the numbers as the attraction of a long period of paid holiday in the UK while on Temporary Admission is removed.
The greater problem, however, remains that of the migrant arriving from a third country. The family shown are a typical example of the standard claimant who has shopped around a number of countries in Europe before arriving here. The Dublin Convention on the return of people to a safe third country, which has been in effect since shortly after the current government came to power, has been an utter disaster. Again the prospect of a speedy removal is of greater deterrence than any of the well intentioned systems currently being introduced. The family shown, under an effective third country policy, would have been removed to Spain without the need for the resource intensive farce which we saw.
Any group of people whether it be a school population, a village, a county or a country, needs a structure to live by. One of the most important elements of such a structure are the sytems within that allow it to function. A key feature is setting boundaries. It seems that in the case of those seeking refuge in this country, there is an absence of boundaries in relation to how many may enter, how long they can stay, how much money is spent per week, etc.
It is understandable that for some people, on humanitarian grounds, we should let every single asylum seeker into this country. On the other hand we have to consider the views of those people who feel they have suffered at the hands of our very great country. Ask someone who has been a tax payer all their life if they would be prepared to spend £x on a heart operation for their 72 year old wife or feed, clothe and accommodate a Kosovan family for several months.
There is no right or wrong answer to this problem but a boundary would help. This country is not a bottomless pit but it can still do it's bit to help.
In reference to the Government's policy of dispersal. Surely they have studied previous research on the earlier dispersal of asylum seekers and refugees and realised that you might be able to send the asylum seekers to all ends of the country, but if you isolate them too much, they will all simply move back to the large cities.
This is where there is an existing population from their countries of origin. When first coming into a new country people want to live close to others who share the same past, a kind of staging post which can allow them to get used to the way of life in a new country before they can move off and possibly disperse.
An instant system of dispersal such as the government's current system will only cause more problems in the long run, as people who have been dispersed migrate to be with their fellow countrymen. The idea that the locals in an area should be consulted as to whether they would like to play host to a number of asylum seekers in their town or village seems preposterous to me. Afterall, it is not as if the estate agent knocks on every door in a street to inform the residents that somebody new will be moving in and is it alright with them. So, why should it be done in reference to asylum seekers? If the British population could be educated to realise that refugees bring to this country a whole number of benefits. Let us remember, it is not purely ill educated people that become refugees, an example I would like to use is a young maths teacher form Kosovo who was featured in the program. Unless it has escaped my notice, there does seem to be a large number of adverts in graduate magazines appealing for people to become teachers, especially those trained in the sciences and maths. Teaching the highly qualified refugees who come to this country to read write and speak English could greatly improve our teaching and nursing shortages, benefiting the whole of society, refugees and native Britons alike.
If refugees are to be allowed to stay in this country then the dispersal system is the only fair way of achieving this, the southeast is flooded with refugees and yet the rest of Britain refuses to take any. How can they argue that they will not fit in there anymore than Londoners can argue that they don't fit in London. The economic and housing burden should be shared fairly around the country, not limited to a small section simply because that's where they arrive.
I think that the rules for refugees should be changed so that anyone entering this country knows exactly how and when to apply for asylum. The application should be made to the immigration officer at the port of entry only, and anyone passing this point without such an application should be treated as an illegal immigrant and should be deported within 12 hours back to country of origin with the minimum of services being provided.
I can't believe that it takes our government months even years to evaluate if a person should stay or not. They must ensure the vast majority don¿t even get in. Why are we allowing our supposed EU partner France to turn a blind eye and let anyone who fancies it a free trip on a back of a lorry. We should put the vast majority on the next available lorry back.
Charity should start at home and there are far to many people being kicked out of their own homes or living in worse accommodation than the people featured in your program.
Plus the fact that we are a lot smaller than France and Germany. By all means contribute financial help but don¿t alienate your own people.
I feel that our do gooders are blinked in their approach and need to give the issue an harder edge when they make their judgement on who should stay
Yet another program designed to portray the English as racist! I and a great many others, I have spoken to feel as though we have been invaded. You can't blame the immigrants for coming here, reaping the benefits within our society, however you can blame the government and crazy councils for letting this situation get out of hand as it has. How long can the cash, to keep these parasitic people hold up? At the detriment to our NHS and other services. I know personally of several people who have been treated very unfairly by our local council, only then to see so called refugees, given preferential treatment. Most of the councillors live in well to do areas that will never see an immigrant within a couple of miles of their home. I dont see why we couldn't relocate them back to their country and helping them get back on there feet that way. It seems more sensible to teach them to rebuild their society properly there and use the international peace keeping force to enforce order. We all know they have had a really terrible time, but they need to be helped in an appropriate way, to become self sufficient and not reliant. Dot forget the burden on the welfare system will extend to their children and their children's children etc.
Why are we not turning these people back at the ports? To say our country is becoming soft is an understatement of the highest order.
Since joining the EEC this country has gone downhill and fast, someone please tell me what we are getting out of it.
We are NOT being racist objecting to these people settling here, its just common sense. It wouldn't matter what nation they came from, the population of this country is aleady too high.
Look at New Zealand, a respectable Englishman would have difficulty becoming a citizen there.
Yet the UK lets in any Tom, Dick or Harry.
Come on Tony Blair do something now before it is too late.
All these do-gooders who are easing their conscience by saying we should accept these people and do what we can for them are missing the point that these are the more able ones who are capable of getting out of their own countries, what do the do-gooders think of the majority of these people left to suffer and ultimately rebuild their own countries. Consider this point and you will realise that giving a few lucky ones refuge is neither fair or the right thing to do
Its a case of caught between a rock and the deep blue sea, isn't it?
Governments have known asylum seekers all their lives and more so since 1951 but I guess the way the Government works is 'don't fix it, if it ain't broke' - Planning is obviously not a priority in this area and perhaps one would need a celebrity to go on a visit around to talk to the asylum seekers to bring out the issues. Asylum seekers also have their basic human rights -- but who is in charge here? Big Brother - the Government. He has been sleeping on his Job - incommunicado - couldn't be bothered to processes information on time - or keep the neighbourhood posted. And guess what this is how wars are created - more guns and more asylum seekers - tomorrow it could be the Brits seeking asylum in Kosovo - think about it. So let those responsible put more men and women on the Job. Get organised and prevent animosity - Concerned Kenyan
Soft hearts need to be balanced by hard heads. If we persist in our present high-minded, simplistic attitude to this matter we shall find our generosity and hospitality pushed to the point of exhaustion. And then we shall look around at a destabilised society that will have so many people from different cultures who have no commitment to this country, merely interests in opportunistic exploitation, that the whole culture and sense of Britain will have disappeared. Some might say, so what? If it means that people can be given a better life, is that not a price worth paying?
Most people who get up and leave the country of their birth and allegiance will be those who literally have the 'get up and go'. The prospects of the country they have left behind are diminished by this exodus. Immigration/emigration of this kind is disadvantageous to both the importing and exporting countries. We really need to think through these issues a lot more seriously than we have so far done. There is far too much high-minded posturing. Even the USA, the country most often pointed to as benefiting from immigration, is far from sentimental about it. Try and enter without the right papers and you're on your way back again. Not after two, three, four or more years of 'consideration', but within hours. We need a real, honest debate on these issues.
I thought that the program was most informative and I have nothing but admiration for the staff who help the confused and frightened immigrants. However speaking with an apolitical view point I thought the minister from the homeoffice was most unconvincing, and arrogant who obviously treated your listeners as if we are all ESN. I feel sure the minister will be proven incorrect with the passage of time. Surely the home office can do better than that with all our hard earned cash!!
After experiencing the situation of the refugees in Kosovo at first hand, I am amazed to read comment such as;- soft touch, 'so called Asylum Seekers'. If you could have seen what these people have been through in their homeland, you wouldn't mind the 1p, 0.1p, 001.p or more likely, the 0001p per month these HUMAN BEINGS are costing you per month. Less of sitting in front of the TV with a big voice (on a soap box) and more getting over there and helping fellow human beings. Very unlikely, I know, you may have your tv, car, warm house, comfortable lifestyle replaced with, 'Ethnic Cleansing', no shelter, no food, people being executed in their own homes, your CHILDREN being executed in front of you... On the the other hand stay where you are. Watch TV instead.
Is the £10billion UK National Insurance Pension surplus held in the treasury
to be used to pay for German, Spanish, Greek, Polish, Turkish etc EU pensions?
It seems to me that many of the people who have written in supporting these poor little souls who seek 'asylum' on these shores, have little experience in living in an area with many (or any) 'asylum seekers'! If they want to contribute to these scroungers, then fine, more fool them. Unfortunately, there is no system in place where they are able to individually do so, and the rest of us can choose to spend the money elsewhere - namely looking after our own. I have an asylum seeker living above me, I also have to get up early to go to work to pay for his upkeep (via taxes). If we keep taking in people who cannot take control of their own country's problems, then sooner or later the indigenous population of this country will take second place to the whims of pressure groups and minorities until we end up in such a mess that we become asylum seekers ourselves. I also note that a lot of these people seem to complain too readily. Well, if it's too hot in the kitchen, then GET OUT!
The picture you painted was A very rosy one in comparison with reality. Have you swallowed the official propaganda or are you deliberately peddling a misleading picture?
The overwhelming majority of asylum seekers are not put up in the standards of accommodation of the family you showed moving to Liverpool. The supply of new furniture and the lick of paint wouldn't have anything to do with the presence of the BBC would it?
Your publicity makes reference to problems. Yet nowhere did you mention the rampant organised crime that is defrauding public revenues. There is systematic abuse leading to false claims for financial assistance from landlords and asylum seekers on an astronomical scale.
The Home Office does not cooperate with the attempts of public agencies to combat and detect fraud, despite the fact that the monies being stolen are Home Office monies.
In summary a very blinkered and poor piece of work, unless of course you are proposing to have a further programme exposing all of this?
In Singapore, the issue was Vietnamese boat people trying to get in. Singapore is a well run country and therefore handled the situation properly. The boat people were housed in camps, all together so that they did not feel isolated. They were well looked after in terms of food, housing and health. When Vietnam was deemed to be stable (they joined ASEAN) the boat people were returned to their own land. Holding them in camps prevented all the issues of absconding, crime, problems from locals etc.
If we had the camps here, they could be self supporting. There will be doctors, teachers, cooks, builders etc among the refugees so they can look after themselves with the minimum of supervision and cost to us.
We are spending a fortune restoring peace and stability to many countries around the world but their nationals, once here, do not want to return.
What an interesting collection of comments from fellow viewers. It is almost as though there were two different programmes being broadcast! One group of viewers saw a poor refugee family deserving of our compassion; another group saw a family of economic migrants abusing the system. The references to lack of work in Kosovo and to temporary protection in Spain were tantalisingly not followed through. I'll bet Geeta found out which view is correct. Perhaps she could enlighten us?
I would just like to ask where else in this world would I be able to; as an Englishmen oops sorry Racist comment 'I mean British male with a wife and 3 children flee and be given the extreme hospitality and generosity as bestowed upon these asylum seekers? Would we soon be expected to give up our own homes to house them whilst the very silent under dogs in our own land be sent to camps. Perhaps we should have arranged for Gordon Ramsey to be on call to cook as this seemed to be the only thing missing from the kind generosity of this so called racist British public as so promoted constantly by the media. Is it not about time that the media give up on this onslaught of its own people. we're tired and sick to death of being told we're RACIST INTOLERANT SELFISH
My God, yet another truthfully depressing program showing up the directions English at their worst.
Are these the same "white is right" morons who have to have the TV news edited to spare them the true reality of situations like Kosovo? It would after all be a disaster for them to have their dinner spoiled as well as queue for the phone box in the same evening.
From a nation which used to be proud to spread the concept of decency and democracy, to a desperate society of petty bigotry and ignorance not caring who gets raped, murdered, or made homeless, as long as it doesn't interfere with us cutting or lawns. Not much of an epitaph for history is it?
After watching last nights program on asylum seekers I felt so sorry for the Kosovan family who after experiencing war first hand which for the majority of us was a clip on the television that lasted 5 minutes and a "topic of conversation" - to come to England and have to face an attitude of total snobery and blatent racism by those who are fortunate enough to live happy lives in the environment they have been brought up in. I put myself in the shoes of the mother and came to the conclusion that mentaly I could not have endured the fear, frustration, worry, isolation and total ruin of her life. It is easy to say you would do anything to help these people but for the lady who gave an example of pure selfishness in saying that the "villagers" didn't have a coach service of their own when advised that the asylum seekers would recieve transport totally astounded me. Peope like these need to go back their warm loving home, speak to their family and friends, look at their holiday photos and realise how rich in life they are compared to these people - to whom a little humanity and understanding would be a big help.
You didn't explore in detail possible solutions.While I feel this country has a fine history of offering sanctuary to those in need I feel we have become too soft a touch, and perhaps your programme could have brought up the sticky subject of I.D. cards to solve the illegal immigrant problem.After all at some stage we will have to declare this small country full and close the doors.Before we reach this stage I feel we should drastically reduce numbers entering to say under 5% of present numbers,and issue I.D. cards to those who should be here and deal with those that shouldn't.This will ensure we continue to have both space and resources for those in genuine need for many years to come.
I cannot help feeling a little resentful. The UK has a great number of homeless and destitute residents as well as millions more in poverty that do not receive half of what the asylum seekers get. I think that with the NHS already under incredible strain, Social Security paying out billions of pounds each week to those needing help that are UK residents, and housing requirements far exceeding those that are available, the Government should review exactly how many people we can help before harming ourselves. I enjoyed the programme immensely and would like to know more about the situation in other European countries & the Government's future plans concerning this matter.
Is it not time that this Government started to look after its own? After seeing last nights program I was absolutely disgusted at the ease to which benefits are handed out to these so called asylum seekers. One case in point was the lady who went to Liverpool and was later rejoined by her husband did say that she could not get hope to have a life where she came from as there was no work there. This proves that they were economic migrants. Don't keep blaming the previous Government for these ills. Three years and a massive majority and they still won't put this situation right
Whilst I have great sympathy for all genuine asylum seekers worldwide I feel that charity should begin at home and the obviously preferential treatment meted out to the refugees coming to this country should stop.
Britain must look after her own FIRST. When we no longer have homeless and poverty stricken Britons literally sleeping on the streets, then we can afford to turn our attentions to other country's problems.
I was disappointed to watch your reporter allow the parish counsellor go unchallenged on his views on the proposed changes at Quantock school. Your research would have shown that the school in its former existence was home to students from all over the world. As a student there in the early seventies I cannot recall the parish council making representations to the Headmaster or anyone else for that matter about the influx of 'foreigners' Nigerians, South Africans, Malaysians, Chinese, Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, Venezuelans, Persians, resident at the school in those days. The good people of Over and Nether Stowey gave the impression of tolerances and understanding when invaded by these hoards at weekends. Kaleidoscope projects and Quantock school should be congratulated on their efforts to make a useful contribution to what is becoming a desperate problem. Sharing the excellent facilities at school seems to me a small price to pay.
After watching your programme on Monday I think that Mr Blair should consider housing some of the 100,000+ asylum seekers in the Dome, thus making good use of another catastrophic waste of public money.
My heart has gone out to the recent immigrants who have knocked at my doorstep half frozen with small children, begging for money for food and nappies. My heart breaks too for our own people who are waiting as patiently as possible on the NHS queues, housing lists, job queues, a floundering education system and more. NO the British identity will not be lost. I am part English, Irish, Malaysian, Jewish, and Indian. If I looked further back I would find more, don't forget Britain has a vast history of invasions, a forced mix of cultures and we are enriched ourselves by our own history! Look at our architecture, our language and more important
nt our own strengths. Surely we possess the courage of the celts, the organisation of the Romans, the courage of the vikings. Thank God I am not just one nationality! Each nation has its own virtues. Vices can be rid of with law. Do not turn your hearts against your brothers. You will only be here a short while yourselves.
In my day to day experience working as an English teacher with many young asylum seekers and their friends and families in Luton I have never seen such luxury afforded them as depicted in your programme. Unfortunately I feel the image presented played into the hands of those feeling that asylum seekers are a drain on the British tax payer. There is so much not generally known about the situation asylum seekers are in. How many know for example that, once an asylum seeker is allowed to work, he or she will be refused a bank account at high street banks? How many know that razors and soap are not permitted to be bought with food vouchers? How many know the battle thay have to get educated even if they were well-educated at home? Do people know that asylum seekers would be charged foreign student fees of thousands per annum to study at university here even if they have the necessary qualifications to be admitted?
Where is the outpouring of sympathy shown during a war watched on T.V. once the arrival of victims as our neighbours shows that the world is actually one place?
The 1951 Convention on Asylum Seekers is nearly half-a-century out-of-date. It was originally designed for Individuals who were fleeing life or freedom threatening persecution in their own homelands, because their political views did not concur with those of a repressive government. It was not designed to cope with mass influxes of migratory people. I have in mind a system of U.N. run specially- designated "Asylum-Havens" in countries all around the world. Bogus Asylum-seekers would be deterred, if they were not able to choose which countries they went to, but were simply assigned according to quotas, or the areas closest in character to their own ethnic or cultural character.
Anywhere in Britain
An Indian friend of mine told me that Britain was crazy, he said that on the day that Labour won the last General Election the number of people per day applying to enter Britain from India doubled. The central issue was aired in the program and that is that the British people are never asked if they want large numbers of people entering this country or their communities. The truth is that many communities in this country have already been swamped. This issue has always controlled by small unrepresentative vested interest groups. The answer may be to require the majority agreement of a community before immigrants are allowed to settle there, after all it is they and not the rest of us who have to adapt to what are large changes in the culture of their communities.
The programme on Asylum Seekers was well balanced and fair, but I would like to have seen a sign of the local goodwill which exists as well as NIMBY objections. The local authority officers are working hard to provide humane conditions for those who are waiting for immigration decisions, but the asylum seekers need local voluntary befriending and support as well, and in many places this is already working well. Other areas like Wolverhampton are in process of setting up voluntary support networks, through churches, other faith communities, the inter-faith group, etc.
I take heart from all those comments I have read that confirm that there are still many decent and compassionate people who put humanity before economics. Like them, I cried watching this program, knowing there are no easy answers, and that many disadvantaged people in this country will resent refugees getting what may appear as a better deal than their own. But please, let us not confuse the issue with the EU - in fact if we start shedding much of the xenophobia and insularity that is closing so many minds to Europe, under the disguise of economic or political argument, greater understanding may result, not only of the issues, but of the people of our European region, and of our world.
I have to say that I was disappointed by the coverage shown in Panorama last night. No mention was made anywhere about the actions / attitudes of the French government in this. Are they not supposed to control their own border? It is not the responsibility of the UK taxpayer to pay for housing, health and social security for everyone who wants to come here. Genuine asylum seekers should be properly looked after but people who come here to look for work should arrange this before they leave. The family shown in the documentary had, by their own admission, come here for better opportunities. If I wanted to emigrate I would have to find a job before I left. Local council budgets are under tremendous strain these days and there simply isn't the money to go round. I would have been interested to know how many asylum seekers eventually return to their countries of origin. The generosity of the UK should not be taken for granted.
I would like to say how thought provoking your programme was on asylum seekers. Having been out to Macedonia to distribute aid and seeing the situation in the camps first hand I don't blame these people for trying to find a better way of life. We are very lucky in Britain, it seems all we have to worry about is the queue forming outside for the public telephone box. We will never know the desperate situation in which some people live, God help us if we were to ever find out.
Everybody in this country is talking about those asylum seekers who don't want to change their life styles according to the way people here in the UK live. however nobody is accepting the fact that there are not enough opportunities for asylum seekers to develop their knowledge apart of normal english language and computer courses.
it is extremely difficult to get the work permit and higher education is everything but accessible.
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