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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Freeze on new refugee arrivals
Shot of Sighthill housing estate
An estimated 1,500 refugees are housed in Sighthill
Scotland Office Minister George Foulkes has confirmed that no more asylum seekers will be housed in Sighthill in Glasgow after protests at the murder of a Turkish refugee.

Mr Foulkes said that the National Asylum Seekers Service, at the request of the police, has decided that no more refugees will be sent to the area.

He also appealed to other Scottish local authorities to share some of the burden of housing people who are fleeing persecution in other countries.

The murder of 22-year-old Turkish Kurd Firsat Yildiz on Sunday has sparked two days of protests in the city by asylum seekers, who claim the council is failing to protect them from local hostility.

Scotland Office Minister George Foulkes
George Foulkes: Plea to other councils
There have also been protests by Sighthill residents who say the asylum seekers are getting preferential treatment.

Strathclyde Police have so far refused to rule out the possibility that the murder was racially motivated.

An estimated 1,500 asylum seekers from all over the world are housed in the Sighthill estate.

Mr Foulkes said he had been in discussion with the Scottish Executive and Glasgow City Council who were exploring other options for housing asylum seekers.

He said he supported a plea from Sighthill's MP Michael Martin for a temporary halt to the flow of asylum seekers into the deprived city area.

Mr Foulkes said: "I have spoken today with Michael Martin about the problem and he, as the local representative, along with the MSP and the councillor, are taking the matter very seriously.

"I think they are right that we need to give some relief to Glasgow.

People 'fleeing persecution'

"I think they have taken - and Sighthill in particular - a particular responsibility and need some credit for doing that, for putting themselves up to act as hosts for people fleeing persecution.

"I would encourage other authorities now in Scotland to help and take on part of the burden.

"I know that some are already looking at it, I hope more will look at it, and will take on the responsibility so that it doesn't fall completely on Glasgow."

Michael Martin, MP for Springburn, which includes Sighthill
Michael Martin: Rethink urged
Michael Martin, who is MP for Springburn and Speaker of the House of Commons, earlier said he would be calling on the city council to rethink their policy of housing so many asylum seekers in the area.

"I think it is easy to have a go at the council at the moment. They are in a very difficult situation.

"They rose to the case that the government put that we should welcome refugees and asylum seekers. They are the only authority in Scotland that have been able to do that.

"One of the cases that I will be putting to Charlie Gordon, the leader of the council, is that we've got to cut down the number of refugees that live in the area because it does put a lot of strain and stress on any community where it is not just people from one country alone.

"There are people from many countries and that does put a lot of strain on the people from the local community.

'Decent people in Sighthill'

"I must stress that people urge me to tell others that we have Chinese neighbours and we have African neighbours and they're the best neighbours that we've ever had in Sighthill.

"The point I'm trying to put across is this. There are a lot of decent people in Sighthill.

"People who have made the asylum seekers and refugees who've been there before them over the past 15 and 16 years, welcome.

"The message they put out is that they want to work with them."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said that no decision had yet been taken on the policy of housing asylum seekers.

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The tension burst on to the streets... following Sunday's murder"
See also:

07 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Refugee dispersal 'will continue'
05 Aug 01 | Scotland
Murder hunt for Turkish man's killer
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