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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Asylum seekers and refugees in print
Asylum seeker
The book reveals some of the experiences of asylum seekers
Asylum seekers and refugees have gone into print to describe their experiences of coming to live in south Wales.

Writers from more than 20 countries now living in Swansea, Cardiff and Newport have provided poems and stories for a book called Between a Mountain and a Sea which is being launched on Tuesday.

With an initial print run of 1500 it is the first such publication written by refugees and asylum seekers in Wales.

Produced by the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group (SBASSG), the book is aimed at both raising awareness and providing funding for the organisation.

Group member Tom Cheesman said: "We run a drop in centre once a week and different arts projects in south Wales.

"So we have good contacts and we invited people to contribute to the book.

"We asked for poems or stories, fictional or testimony, and different people came up with different things.

"There is a marvellous story from a writer from Sudan who wrote about the reasons why he had to leave Sudan.

"I should mention that there are about half a dozen contributions by people who are not refugees but about refugee issues.

"We have also included some very old Welsh poetry written by people who have been displaced by warfare or slaughter.

"We are trying to get the point across that this is an age old issue."

'Talented writers'

The book is being launched in the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea on Tuesday night to mark Refugee Week.

An asylum seeker is someone who is fleeing in their home country from persecution and is applying to stay in Britain while a refugee is someone who has been given legal status to stay in the country.

Short poetry readings as well as musical entertainment are planned for the evening.

Mr Cheesman added: "We are hoping to make this a first in a series of such books.

"There are a lot of talented writers.

"A high proportion of asylum seekers are intellectuals - writers or journalists - and we hope to have a lot more people working with us."

SBASSG organises regular get-togethers and occasional social and cultural public events.

It also assists families and individuals in crisis; works with organisations in the voluntary and public sectors to improve conditions for asylum seekers and refugees and tries to improve public understanding of refugee and asylum issues.

Contrary to what Iranians believe, the British are mostly straightforward, loveable, warm and kindly towards others.

They are, or at least seem to be, patient and polite.

They like walking and wait patiently in traffic; they give way, they do not quarrel in the street or race cars.

I have yet to see anyone hurrying in a bank or shop or hospital.

They always seem to have time to queue patiently till it's their turn.

Extract from Britain Through My Eyes by Anahita Alikhani

Feel like nobody here, ashamed, like everybody

Hates me,

But they don't know me, they really

Don't know who I am either,

Only they know what they read in the

Newspapers about me

And that is not me.

I feel like nobody here,

Despite the torture and persecution I managed

To escape from home, in search

Of a land of peace and respect for

Human rights, as soon as I got in,

I was put into detention centre,

And the newspapers did the rest.

Extract from I Feel Like Nobody Here by Maxson Sahr Kpakio




SEE ALSO:
Asylum work wins Kirk couple honour
13 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Asylum appeals court inquiry set
22 May 03  |  South East Wales
Refugees' snapshot of life in UK
29 Jun 02  |  England
Refugee doctors can help NHS
17 May 02  |  Wales


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