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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Refugee dispersal 'will continue'
Flowers
Flowers have been left for the murdered Kurd refugee
The government has defended its policy of dispersing asylum seekers around the UK and warned that it will not be "run by racists".

The murder of a refugee in Glasgow and a serious attack on another in Hull have raised serious questions about the system.

Home Office minister Jeff Rooker defended the policy and said it had been "by and large very successful" and would not be stopped.


We will not pull out of areas simply because people say it is an area where there could be racists

Lord Rooker
In an effort to ease the tensions in the Glasgow area, Scotland Office Minister George Foulkes said no new asylum seekers would be housed in Sighthill for the forseeable future.

The Conservatives, having condemned the attacks, said that asylum seekers should not be left to their own devices in communities not equipped to cope with them.

That was a view echoed by the Refugee Council who also called for the scrapping of the voucher system for asylum seekers.

Stabbings

Turkish Kurd Firsat Yildiz, 22, was stabbed to death on Sunday, two weeks after being moved to the deprived Sighthill area of Glasgow, and a 22-year-old Iraqi had his throat slashed in Hull, East Yorkshire on the same day.

Refugee spokesman Aamer Anwar addressed the demonstrators
Refugees in Sighthill want more protection
The two men were among 30,000 asylum seekers moved north in the last 18 months to reduce overwhelming pressure on London and the south east.

Lord Rooker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the government would continue with the policy, but admitted it was not perfect.

Police advice

"Asylum seekers will not have a choice where they will live while their cases are being considered. We can't allow that because they will migrate to the south east and the London area again.

"But we would not deliberately aggravate any local situations and where there are difficulties we'll take a different policy.

"But we will not pull out of areas simply because people say it is an area where there could be racists.

"Only on police advice would we not use a particular area. Otherwise our policy would be run by the racists in the country and we are not going to have that."

Later, Scotland Office Minister Mr Foulkes called for a temporary halt in housing new refugees on the Sighthill estate.

But asylum seekers will still be sent to Glasgow and it is for the city council to decide where they are housed.

And Glasgow council says no decision has yet been taken on its policy for housing asylum seekers.

Basic needs

Speaking on the dispersal policy for the Refugee Council Deputy Chief Executive Margaret Lally said: "Dispersal will not work if asylum seekers are placed in areas where basic needs cannot be met."

Protesters
Locals in Sighthill have staged counter demonstrations
The murder of Mr Yildiz has been followed by appeals for calm after two days of protest at the treatment of asylum seekers in Sighthill.

About 100 residents, most of them youths, staged a protest to highlight what they say is favouritism towards asylum seekers on Monday night.

The demonstration came after hundreds of refugees staged an angry protest at the murder of Mr Yildiz.

The refugees have accused the council of not doing enough to protect them from what they see as local hostility.

The council is to get an estimated 100m from the Treasury over five years for housing the asylum seekers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Home Office minister, Lord Rooker
"In the last eighteen months, 30,000 asylum seekers have been dispersed"
Former Lord Provost, Michael Kelly
"This is the reality coming through again"
Alison Fenny, Refugee Council
"They need to review where they are sending people"
See also:

07 Aug 01 | Scotland
Minister backs asylum rethink
07 Aug 01 | Scotland
Calm plea as race tensions rise
06 Aug 01 | Scotland
Influx blamed for area tensions
05 Aug 01 | Scotland
Racial motive link to killing
05 Aug 01 | Scotland
Murder hunt for Turkish man's killer
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