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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
More asylum seekers flee city
Asylum seekers
The asylum seekers feared intimidation
More asylum seekers have fled Glasgow despite the city council giving reassurances that it is doing all it can to stamp out racial harassment.

It was revealed on Friday that three Kurdish men, who had been in Scotland for about a year, left saying they would not return.

They are currently being interviewed by police in Dover.

News of the men's disappearance follows reports that 14 asylum seekers, including Palestinian, Bulgarian and Lebanese people, left Glasgow's Sighthill area on Wednesday claiming they had been harassed.

Coach
Asylum seekers first began arriving last April
Tensions involving locals and refugees flared after a Kurdish asylum seeker was murdered in Sighthil.

The council has reiterated that it is doing everything in its power to stamp out harassment.

So far, Glasgow has taken all the refugees which have been sent to Scotland.

However, Edinburgh Council now hopes to make 100 homes available and West Dunbartonshire and Fife councils have also pledged to help out.

The families who fled on Wednesday went to London where their overnight accommodation was paid for.

But they were advised by the Refugee Council's Croydon office to return to Sighthill after seeking advice from the Home Office.

Home Office contract

Margaret Lally, deputy chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "We did not believe it right to send the families back to Sighthill last night and therefore decided to pay for the them to have one night's accommodation in London - one had already left.

"It would not be possible or sensible for us to fund accommodation for these families indefinitely in London.

"We have liaised closely with the Home Office and the police at Sighthill who agreed to meet with the families and investigate the allegations as soon as they return.

"We also provided them with information on how to contact lawyers, local community refugee groups and their fares for their return journey."

The Refugee Council's accommodation is contracted by the Home Office and is normally only provided to asylum seekers who require emergency shelter before being dispersed.

The Home Office refused to agree that the council could temporarily house the Sighthill families while their case was being investigated and insisted that they were sent back to Scotland immediately.

'Real fears'

This was despite the fact that further dispersals to Sighthill have been suspended.

Ms Lally added: "We are very concerned about the situation in Sighthill. We do not believe that any area in the country should be a no go area for asylum seekers and we are aware of the strenuous efforts made by the police to calm the situation.

"It is essential, however, that recognition is given to very real fears currently being felt by asylum seekers in Sighthill and that all cases of clients leaving this area are assessed on an individual basis.

"All claims of racial harassment must be thoroughly investigated and appropriate support given to the victims."

News of the families' departure to London emerged hours after two Scottish council's confirmed that they would be willing to help with the dispersement of asylum seekers in Scotland.

Fife Council has offered 100 houses to asylum seekers and West Dunbartonshire Council has confirmed it has 50 homes available.

At present Glasgow City Council houses all asylum seekers who have arrived in Scotland, with the majority staying in the Sighthill area of the city.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Colin Mackinnon reports
"The three asylum seekers claim to have been victims of racism"
See also:

09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Councils to ease refugee plight
09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Newspaper faces refugee protest
08 Aug 01 | Scotland
Refugee mediator to be appointed
08 Aug 01 | Scotland
Stabbed asylum seeker's anger
08 Aug 01 | Scotland
Ministers in asylum seekers pledge
07 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Refugee dispersal 'will continue'
05 Aug 01 | Scotland
Murder hunt for Turkish man's killer
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