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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 06:53 GMT
Young asylum seekers face abuse
Child (generic)
Young asylum seekers will speak at the seminar in Cardiff
A third of child asylum seekers in Wales have experienced racial abuse and harassment, according to a study for the charity Save The Children.

Researchers from the Universities of Glamorgan and Cardiff spoke to 45 children individually, as well as others in groups.

Nearly all those interviewed felt they were "in limbo" and were anxious about their future.

The report has been discussed at a seminar in Cardiff.

Uncertain Futures estimates that, on recent figures, there could be around 1,400 young asylum seekers with their families, as well as 70 children on their own, being looked after by local councils.

Nearly all are concentrated in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, with smaller numbers in Wrexham.

I was talking to him about asylum seekers - I said, what do you think, it is terrible isn't it? And he said, 'it is terrible, they are liars'
Boy interviewee, 16

The study found that, although there was generally a warm welcome in Wales, young people who had experienced abuse and harassment blamed the media for fuelling negative perceptions.

One 12-year-old girl said: "People stare at you in a way that you are different - oh look, this person is different. Racism has happened to me. They have called me 'Paki' and they think that you are related to Osama bin Laden."

An 18-year-old spoke of being "jumped on" by a group of 15 youths.

A 16-year-old girl added: "I've noticed here that people depend a lot on the media and whatever the media say, they accept it, they don't question it."

A boy, aged 16, said: "There was an old man and I was talking to him about asylum seekers. I said, what do you think, it is terrible isn't it? And he said, 'it is terrible, they are liars'."

Healthcare and support

The report also found there were difficulties from moving location within the UK, frustration about not being allowed to work, while young people often needed to deal with quite complicated issues for their parents.

Reverend Aled Edwards, from Displaced People in Action, works closely with asylum seekers in Cardiff.

Report's areas of concern
Long waits for decisions, leaving children anxious and uncertain
Some children on their own in hotel accommodation
Inconsistency in housing
Lack of healthcare and support networks

He said: "Children often have to work as interpreters and solicitors for their parents because they learn the language and it can be a heavy burden".

Richard Powell, of Save the Children in Wales, said the study was the first of its kind to look at the situation in Wales alone and it presented recommendations under 10 headings.

He said: "Children coming here to seek asylum are vulnerable and need protection, so it's important we ensure measures are in place to ease their integration into our society."

The research involved talking to children aged nine to 18, from 20 countries, ranging from Algeria to Iraq and Pakistan.

Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart spoke at the seminar, which was also addressed by a group of pupils from Willows High School in Cardiff.

Ms Hart pledged to help raise awareness of the needs of young asylum seekers, both among the public and among professionals.


SEE ALSO:
Asylum figures continue to fall
22 Feb 05 |  Politics
Call for faster asylum decisions
08 Feb 05 |  Politics


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