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presenting alternative positions on migration

Tomasz duda freshmintstudio.com

survivor exposes
abuse at

Blood groupies: activists launch the campaign

Bloody Foreigners!


controversial new national campaign is

aiming to combat hostility to foreigners
during the election by encouraging migrants
to donate blood.
Migration, politics and blood come together in the
controversially named Bloody Foreigners campaign.
Were aware how controversial the Bloody
Foreigners campaign sounds, but we feel its very
fitting, says campaign co-ordinator Joanna Zawadzka.
Immigration is a hot topic in the build-up
to the election and we fear it will be used in a
negative context.
We want to balance that out by reclaiming the
phrase thats been used for decades by some tabloids to
describe newcomers to this country.
The drive is backed by a coalition of charities,
including Migrant Voice, in cities across England
and Scotland.
Zawadzka says the campaign aims to raise awareness

about blood donation among migrant communities,

to increase the number of donors that come forward,
and to make information about blood donation more
easily accessible.
It will run in major UK cities, including Birmingham,
Edinburgh, Fife and London, and will be supported by
a social media and multi-language information drive.
Only 4 per cent of those eligible to donate blood in
the UK do so regularly, according to the NHS. With the
health service struggling to meet demand for blood,
every donation counts: one donation can help up to
three people in need.
The sentiment behind the campaign was captured
by Edinburgh-based blood donor Barbara Wesolowska:
Blood is universal to all as it has no colour, religion,
gender or sex preference, she said. It is a warm
reminder of how similar we are to each other.
Campaign information: www.bloodyforeigners.org.uk/
Twitter: @BForeigners

former child soldier who is setting

up an organisation to reduce the
suffering of children in war says that sexual
abuse was rampant in the orphanages
in which she lived after the Rwandan
Agnes Uwase says some of the
orphanages in the two Congos (Brazzaville
and Kinshasa) and Rwanda were run by
international aid agencies and staffed
almost entirely by men.
Girls were blackmailed and threatened
with beatings or being sent away if they
resisted the mens sexual demands.
We used to call them papa. The abuse
was done by Rwandan and Congolese men
but also white men from some of the aid
agencies, she told Migrant Voice.
When Uwase refused to have sex
with one of the staff he tore her travel
documents in two and told her: You and
your brother can now kiss goodbye to
Europe. You are going to be a prostitute on
the streets and you will die with aids and
Uwase also bitterly recalls the way the
children were made to sing and dance - and
most importantly, smile - for visitors from
donor organisations and told that if they
did not train to perform they would not
be fed.
She was saved when a French charity
worker took over the centre where she
was living, discovered the abuse and
started sacking the workers. He helped
Agnes move to Europe with her brother,
with whom she had fled the genocide in
which their parents were killed.
I feel the pain right now - the pain


UKs North

I am an

Let them
eat cake


on a new

Posters go
positive P 18

bonanza P 26

Books about
children on the
move P 29



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Letter from the Editor in Chief

Welcome to Migrant Voices 2015 Election Special

mmigration is high on the news

agenda and is being presented by
some politicians as a burden on
the country, feeding fears and fuelling
prejudice. There are 7.8 million foreignborn nationals in the UK but they are
largely underrepresented in mainstream
British media.
Our research reveals that migrants
voices are heard in only one in eight
media stories on migration. Many of
these articles reflect critical, sometimes
explicitly negative, attitudes not only
towards migration policies but also
migrants themselves.
Far from the idea that debating
migration is off-limits, it turns out that
the only people banned from discussing
it are migrants themselves.
Here, we place migrants at the centre
of the debate and let them tell their
We found that over 90 per cent
of migrants feel at least partially
integrated into British society yet feel
totally excluded from the political
conversation about migration. When
politicians make ill-informed comments
it creates distrust on both sides. Yet


or write to
us at

thankfully the vast majority of Britons

feel positive about the migrants they
encounter in their daily lives, and the
feeling is mutual.
Migrant Voice aims to address the lack
of balanced and accurate representation in
the media and celebrate the contribution
migrants make to the UK. Our paper
includes vibrant, engaging and moving
stories, created and distributed by
This years issue is particularly
important as it coincides with Migrant
Voice celebrating five years of movement
building, mobilisation and engagement
with the public debate.
In this issue we unveil a new I am
an Immigrant poster campaign which
celebrates the immense contribution that
immigrants make.
The posters, which go on display at
hundreds of London tube stations and
national railway stations this month, show
immigrants are part of the fabric of British
We are also the first to report on
the launch of the Bloody Foreigners
campaign mobilising migrant communities
to give more blood, turning an old phrase

on its head. Its just one of the many

ways todays migrants are contributing
to the health and wealth of our nation.
We give you a glimpse into the
strong North Korean community
in the UK, the largest defector
community from that country in
We also take you on two long,
horrifying journeys from Syria and
Eritrea in search of safety in the UK.
And we share the inspirational story
of Agnes, an orphan of the Rwandan
genocide and a former child soldier,
who is now settled in the UK and is
campaigning to improve the lives of
other children orphaned by war.
There are also stories about the
everyday lives of migrants in Britain
- in restaurants, on the sports field, in
the arts, in business.
Many more stories are featured on
our website www.migrantvoice.org. We
also want to hear your thoughts - write
to us at info@migrantvoice.org.
We hope you enjoy reading our paper.

I Married a Migrant
With almost a tenth of Britons now choosing to marry foreign-born
spouses, Olivia Blair highlights a few of the many public figures who have
opted for love without borders.
GOTCha images

Andy Burnham
shadow Secretary of State for
health (2011-2015): married to
Marie-France Van Heel
They met at Cambridge University.
According to Burnham, a football
fan, his Dutch-born wife is from
a football family, so that was very
helpful. They have three children
- a son, Jimmy, and two daughters,
Rose and Anne-Marie.

Westwood met her future husband

while teaching him at the Vienna
Academy of Arts. Kronthaler is from a
rural Austrian background and they now
live in London. Kronthaler is a designer
for her clothing brand.

secretary of State for Health (20122015): married to Lucia Guo

Hunt married his Chinese wife in a
Chinese ceremony in Xian. Hunt said
in 2013 that the UK should follow the
example of Asian countries that take
elderly relatives into their home once
their relatives can no longer live alone.
They have three children.

Nick Clegg
deputy Prime Minister
(2010-2015): married to
Miriam Gonzlez Durntez


Cheryl FernandezVersini

Daniel Nelson

Ching Li Chew

With thanks to all the volunteer journalists, editors,

photographers, contributors and Migrant Voice staff,
network members and trustees who took part in the
production of the paper.
Thank you to all the funders who support our work.
Thank you in particular to the Network for Social Change,
the Arm Trust and the many people who supported our
crowdfunding campaign towards the production of
the paper.
MV is a migrant-led organisation with a vision of an
equitable society where migrants are recognised for
their contribution, embraced as valuable members
of our community, and their voices equally heard.
Printed at the Guardian Print Centre, Rick Roberts Way, London
E15 2GN and the Guardian Print Centre, Longbridge Road,
Manchester M17 1SL
Migrant Voice is the newspaper of the registered
Charity No 1142963 and the not-for-profit company 7154151
Migrant Voice. Published by and Migrant Voice 2015.
Please seek permission before reproducing any of our articles
or photographs.

Orphanage abuse exposed

by Rwandan survivor

Editorial Manager
Anne Stoltenberg


that I did not feel when I was running

away. I do not lead a normal life because
of all the memories that fill my mind; the
fact that a child could not trust anybody.
I did not cry back then because everyone
was hiding and if you screamed people
would kill you I was seven. The next time
I cried was 10 years later at a counselling
session at the Medical Foundation for the
Care of Victims of Torture in London. I
broke down. It was all there in front of me.
I could not run from it any more.
Last year she returned to Rwanda and
the Congo and visited refugee camps in the
three countries, including the one in Congo
-Brazzaville where she spent around three
years as a child.
She saw many street-children, some
with HIV/AIDS. She says there is
still no education at the camps and no
activities. Some children were eating ants.
The visit sparked sad feelings and
memories for Agnes. She felt lucky and

guilty that she

had survived the
conflict and the
hardships faced by
so many children.
She returned even
more determined
to fight for
Now 28
and living in
Britain, Uwase
says that through the organisation she is
setting up she wants to give a voice to the
children who cannot speak for themselves,
raise awareness about the unspeakable
experiences of the children the world
ignored, and tell the stories of the
survivors to ensure a better system is in
place to protect and treat the children
of war.
More information about Agnes organisation:
Nazek Ramadan

Colin Firth
actor: married to Livia Giuggioli
They met in Columbia, have been
married since 1997 and now split
their time between the UK and Italy,
where Livia was born. They have
two children, Luca and Matteo. Firth
has said: Spending time in Italy
has been incredibly stimulating
and fascinating for me. Italy has a
warmth and charm that overwhelms
you and takes me out of my more
subdued English personality.

Farage met his German wife in

Frankfurt in 1996, they married in
1999 and have two children. Their
children are bilingual, which Kirsten
has said is such a chance in life.
The UKIP leader says Mehr works for
him because no-one else can work
such unsociable hours so closely
with him. Mehr has defended Farage
against claims of racism: If he was a
racist I wouldnt be with him.

fashion designer: married to

Andreas Kronthaler

singer: married to Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini

Nazek Ramadan

leader of the UK Independence

Party: married to Kirsten Mehr

Dame Vivienne

Jeremy Hunt

Nazek Ramadan
Founder, Migrant Voice

Nigel Farage

Clegg and the Spanish internationaltrade lawyer have been married

since 2000, and they have three
sons: Antonio, Alberto and Miguel.
They met when both were studying
in Bruges, Belgium, and at first
conversed in French, as this was the
strongest language they shared.

Cheryl reportedly married her French husband in Mustique

last year. Taking her husbands surname, Cheryl (ne Tweedy,
who formerly used the surname of her previous husband, the
footballer Ashley Cole) has said that sometimes people show
their ignorance by not pronouncing her new name properly.

Bruce Forsyth
entertainer: married to Wilnelia Merced
Bruce and Wilnelia have been married for over 30 years.
Wilnelia is from Puerto Rico, and was crowned Miss
World in 1975. They met judging the 1980 Miss World
competition. Forsyth has previously said that when they
were first together it was hard having a long-distance
relationship, as Wilnelia was based in New York. The
couple visit Puerto Rico regularly, and have said it is their
favourite place in the world.

Office of Nick Clegg

Baroness Karren Brady

businesswoman: married to Paul
Brady met her Canadian husband when
he was playing football for Birmingham
City, where she was managing director.
They share Italian heritage and have two
children, Sophia and Paolo.

The uprooted Tibetan who showcases artists


aiqu Gonkar remembers being just

another migrant when her artist
father and doctor mother brought her from
Tibet to Britain at the age of 10.
People do not see you as an individual,
or recognise your multi-layered identity,
she observes.
It was a struggle: she missed her
extended family and couldnt talk to
her schoolfriends, and had to ignore
countless people calling me ching chong

I had to
people calling
me ching

while stretching out the side of their eyes

with their finger. I had to explain that No,
I am not Chinese, and that Yes there is a
difference. No, I did not live in a tent without
electricity. And No we do not eat dog, own a
takeaway, or work in a massage parlour.
Through hard work, higher education,
and exposure to an international
environment, I no longer feel like just
another migrant but still face the casual
racism and subtle, perhaps unconscious

prejudice - racism without racists.

She has founded a gallery, Art Represent,
for artists from conflict countries.
The first major show is of Malina
Suliman, Afghanistans first street artist,
whose work on the oppression of women,
has made her a Taliban target.
We can give artists a platform to sell
their work, to get their voices to be heard
far and wide, says Gonkar.


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Stop the scare-mongering

plea to election hopefuls
Migrant groups urge politicians to look on the bright side. Kate Ng reports

igrant support organisations

have condemned the use of
political fear-mongering which
they say is creating a negative attitude
toward migrants.
The new government should abandon
the culture of disbelief in which every
immigrant is somehow a threat, and
instead inform the public about the
benefits of migration and how we can
make it work for all of us, says Zrinka
Bralo, executive director of the Migrant
and Refugee Communities Forum.
Government should shift the
emphasis in policy-making and migration
management from enforcement to
integration, she says.
This means abandoning deterrents
that dont work in favour of regularising
undocumented migrants and introducing
more welcoming programmes for new
Habib Rahman, chief executive of
the Joint Council for the Welfare of
Immigrants, agrees.
We have seen for too long migrants
and refugees being depicted negatively. It
must be accepted that migrants have made
positive contributions to society and the
economy, he notes.
Most migrant and refugee support
organisations agree that indefinite
detention of migrants usually because
they cannot return to their home countries
for one reason or another must end.
Detention is obviously ineffective and
has got completely out of control, says
Bralo. There is no judicial oversight and it
costs a huge amount of money.
Jerome Phelps, director of Detention
Action, calls on the new government to
put a time limit on detention in line with
every other European country: The UK
is unique in Europe in detaining migrants
without a time limit for a period of years.
The long-term impact on migrants mental
health is appalling.
Stuart Crosthwaite, secretary of the
South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum
Action Group, also sees scrapping
indefinite detention as a top government
In March, a cross-party group of MPs
suggested detention should be limited to
28 days and used only as a last resort.
Conservative MP David Burrowes

secretlondon123 www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

told The Guardian: While there is a need

to properly control our borders, people
who arrive by fair means or foul must
also be treated with dignity and respect
throughout the immigration process. The
current system is failing to do this and our
report calls for an urgent rethink.
Attitudes towards refugees and asylumseekers who risk their lives to find a safe
haven must also change, organisations say.
Rahman says a new government must
prioritise and protect those seeking
asylum: There needs to be a discussion
about Britain taking on a fairer share of
refugees, he says.
The Refugee Council told Migrant
Voice that in the early 2000s there was a
constant stream of anti-asylum headlines
with asylum-seekers vilified on newspaper
front pages on an almost daily basis.
But attitudes had shifted: all the main
political parties now talked of Britains
proud tradition of protecting refugees and
attention was largely focused on economic
However, the distinction is often not so
easily understood or drawn in the publics
mind, a spokesman for the organisation
said, and people consistently overestimate
the number of refugees in Britain.
A 2012 poll by British Future found that
4 out of 10 people believed that more than
10 per cent of the population (6 million
people) were refugees, and 1 in 20 believed
most people in Britain today had been
granted asylum.
In reality, says the Refugee Council,
Britain is home to less than 1 per cent
of the worlds refugees and received only
about 25,000 asylum applications a year.
On family reunions, non-European
Union migrants and British citizens must
meet tough criteria, such as proof of high

We should
use our vote
to elect
people who
will listen

earnings, in order to bring their families to

Migrant organisations also want an
end to immigration checks by landlords
and to restrictions on access to health and
Rahman wants to see migrants and
refugees treated right. The leadership
from the next government must not
scapegoat migrants. They must get rid of
discrimination and xenophobia.
Simin Azimi, director of Refugee
Women, says: Citizenship is so hard
to obtain the test is difficult even for
Britons. These are measures to reduce
immigrants coming from outside the
EU. Its unfair. There needs to be equal
Phelps says: Migrants should speak
to their MPs about their priorities for
improving the immigration system and
respect for their rights. Migrants are a
significant section of the electorate. I hope
that many migrants can make clear to their
elected representatives that their vote will
partly depend on party attitudes to the
treatment of migrants.
Rahman, too, emphasises the
importance of the migrant vote: To ignore
them will be peril for any party, he says.
London constituencies with the highest
projected share of migrant voters are
East Ham (55.2 per cent), West Ham (48
per cent) and Tottenham (41.6 per cent),
according to Migrants Rights Network.
Crosthwaite encourages migrants to
put their demands to candidates and
parties, and to ally with other oppressed
groups, supportive political parties and
How realistic are these suggestions?
We should use our vote to elect people
who will listen, says Azimi. I am not
overly hopeful that the new government
will be immediately ready to change, but
that is not a reason to give up. We need to
vote for the right people and lobby them to
make sure we have our say.
Azimi hopes that one day the
authorities will recognise the contributions
of migrants and come out publicly to
support us.
She also longs for migrants to be more
active in social and political arenas and to
take part in public discussions so that their
voices will be heard.


Migrants as voters at
the ballot box
Chantal, 24
programme officer
The most important issues
that Id like to see the
government address are
rising economic inequalities
and climate change.
What I would most like
to see change is the way
immigration is portrayed.
I would like to see more
coverage about how
immigration benefits the UK.

restaurant waiter
Migrants contribute
remarkably to the UK and
ought to be seen as real
partners in pushing forward
the economic wheels.
I would like to see a stop
to political posturing on
immigration - whenever
elections are on. I would like
to see positive changes in
family re-unification.

Mohsin, 50
broadcast journalist
The most important issue
politicians should address
is ethics. Often, politicians
substitute ethical values for
economic reasons.
We let immigrants in on the
basis of our own interests
abroad. Britains got to make
up its mind about the EU,
whether to stay in or get out,
but actually Britain gets a
lot of benefit from being in
the EU.

I would like politicians to
show an understanding of
the plight of refugees. A lot
of young people are leaving
Eritrea because of indefinite
national service.
Politicians should look into
the root causes and put
pressure on the Eritrean
government not to abuse
human rights instead of
trying to block them coming
to the UK.

Jacques, 43
health care worker
Democratic Republic of
I want politicians to increase
the minimum wage. Also
we need to abolish the zero
hours contract. Most people
cant afford to pay their bills
because they cant work
I have heard politicians
say British jobs for British
people, but the job market
should be open for all
skilled people without
any discrimination. It is
better to support the
growth of the economy
rather than scapegoating

Irina, 22
masters student
I would like to see politicians
place more emphasis and
focus on tackling company
tax avoidance rather than
benefit fraud.
Immigration policies should
be based on facts and not
racist propaganda. There
shouldnt be certain rules
applied to certain countries.
For example, Romanians
cannot get benefits until
they have worked in the UK
for two to three years but
the same rules seem to not
apply to more developed
countries such as Germany
or Spain.

Ruth Grove-White, policy

director of Migrants Rights

here could be just under 4 million

migrant voters in Britain, making up
almost 10 per cent of the electorate
The figure comes from a survey by
the Migrants Rights Network and the
University of Manchester - the first
attempt to map the wide range of first
generation migrants to the UK who are
eligible to cast a vote in general elections.
The group consists mainly of migrants
who are long-settled in the UK and have
become British citizens. Most are from
Commonwealth countries, with voter
numbers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
and Nigeria boosted by their high levels of
naturalisation and reflecting the longstanding and positively integrated nature
of these communities.
Migrant voters also include
Commonwealth and Irish citizens able to
vote on arrival in the UK, many of whom
have settled here permanently but not yet
But only 80.000 of the estimated 1.1
million adult migrants from the EU are
eligible to vote.
It is hard to assess the potential impact
of migrant voters. They form a highly
disparate group, unlikely to form a bloc
vote. But many first generation migrants
share attitudes about issues of immigration
and race equality. They are more likely to
be positive about the economic and cultural
impacts of immigration than the rest of the
population, as well as to express concern
about racial discrimination and negative
messaging on immigration.
There is a strong message here for
politicians of all parties.
From historical experience, we know
that politicians who alienate those who

have chosen to make Britain their home

can struggle to regain their trust for
generations. Politicians who want to build
support among this group and the much
wider proportion of the electorate who feel
positively about immigration would be
wise to approach the immigration debate
sensitively. Threatening to strip more
rights from migrants or scapegoating them
for traffic jams or housing shortages will
not build common ground with this group
of voters.
Equally, attempts to disenfranchise some
Commonwealth migrants on the eve of the
election are likely only to drive their wider
communities further away.
In the meantime, migrant communities
and advocates should draw heart from
the findings of the new report. The UKs
heated immigration debate too often
shouts over the views both of migrants and
of the significant proportion of UK society
who welcome them and feel positive
about a modern, diverse, outward-looking
Instead, punditry can seem to be shaped
by the fear of a minority of voters who are
resolutely negative about immigration.
Those who do support the more measured
approach favoured by most of the
population often keep quiet rather than
offering leadership on what an alternative
approach would look like.
More importantly, these findings should
remind migrant voters, and the many
others who stand alongside them, that they
do not need to shrink into the shadows
when it comes to politics. As members of
the national community and electorate,
we have the right to call for something
better from those who are trying to secure
our vote - and we should never miss the
opportunity to do so.
The full report is at www.migrantsrights.org.
Alex Lee


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Spotlight on the UKs North Koreans

Benson Kua www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Carlotta Cardana

Ty Faruki

New Malden has had South

Korean connections for
many years. Now it is also
a refuge for those escaping
North Korea

tep out of the station and the first

thing you see on your left is a tiny
Asian takeaway. Walk further
up the main street and you start to see
why the area has also been dubbed Little
Korea: next to regular English businesses
are Korean restaurants, travel companies
and supermarkets. Many shops have
Korean translations in their windows and
puns on the word Seoul are everywhere.
This is New Malden, Surrey.
According to the 2011 report of South
Koreas Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, more than 42,000 South Koreans
were registered as living in the UK. The
largest concentration reside in New
Malden, with some 20,000 residents.
About 600 North Koreans also live here,
making it the most popular area for
North Koreans defectors in Europe and
one of the largest North Korean defector
communities outside South Korea.
The history of Korean migration in
New Malden goes back to the 1950s,
when a joint venture between Racal
Avionics (then known as Decca), part of a

Park Jihyun: discovered human rights

Singing in the rain

Korean specialities: catering for a community

major electronics system company, Thales

Group, and a Korean chaebol or business
conglomerate began to attract Korean
workers to New Malden. Samsungs
headquarters were here until 2005.
The original South Korean embassy
was also located in New Malden, leading to
more people moving into the area.

From hungry rebel to food store manager

Kate Ng travels to Surrey to meet a
man with a mission
Choi Joong-ha greets us in the small
head office of a Korean supermarket
in New Malden on a sunny afternoon.
Annyeong haseyo, he says, bowing
slightly. He leads us to an even smaller
room at the back and gestures
for us to sit. There is a whiteboard
in the room with the words The
governments lies are all bullshit
scribbled across it.
I dont really have any spare time, he
tells me, through an interpreter. All
my time is taken up by the community
work I do.
Choi is president of the North
Korean Residents Society, which helps
defectors integrate with life in the UK
and helps them tell their stories. About
600 North Koreans have settled in
New Malden. He has lived here for
seven years with his wife and three
children. He is the stock manager of
Korea Foods supermarket. Choi used

I was torn
loyalty and

Manchester is too wet a place for

some. But North Korean refugee Park
Jihyun tells how it has offered her a
very warm welcome

In the 1970s, the South Korean

ambassador moved to nearby
Wimbledon, and many South Koreans
followed. As Wimbledon became
more expensive, South Koreans began
to settle in less expensive New
Malden. Now its the turn of their
northern compatriots.

to serve in the North Korean military,

where he worked for more than 10 years
before the famine.
His childhood in North Korea was
very controlled. From the minute they
are born, North Koreans are fed progovernment propaganda and not much
else. They use hunger to brainwash
you, Choi says.
Even baby food is rationed, you arent
allowed to feed your baby more than the
allocated amount a day. So from birth
you are hungry and hungry people
cannot think of anything other than their
hunger. In school and at work, you have
entire lessons on how great the Kim
dynasty is. Thats how they brainwash
Because of this conditioning many
defectors are still afraid to tell their stories.
I was torn between loyalty and fear,
he says loyalty to his great leaders, to
whom he was expected to be grateful
for having life itself, and fear they would
torture and kill him and his family if they
ever found them.

After defecting and working for four

years in China, Choi saved up enough to
pay a Chinese broker to take him and his
family further away. They were given a
choice of South Korea, the US or the UK.
America and South Korea were known
to Choi as hostile countries the enemy.
Thats what we were taught. So he
chose UK, where the government sent
them to Newcastle.
The hardest part about coming to
the UK is that I had no other skills than
those I had in the military, he recalls.
I had no other job experience either.
It was very hard to pick up new skills
and get another job here. English is
also a barrier: I just dont have time for
After hearing about a Korean
community in New Malden, Choi
decided to settle there. Some people
thought he was mad for wanting to
uproot his family again. As a refugee,
you just follow your survival instincts,
he says. Your gut knows how to keep
you alive.

Ty Faruki

Choi Joong-ha: no
time for classes

Only after North Korean Park Jihyun

found refuge in the United Kingdom
in 2008 did she slowly begin to
understand what human rights mean
a discovery that came after 40
painful years that included torture,
imprisonment in labour camps and
being trafficked to China.
In North Korea, ones happiness is
not ones own: happiness belongs to
the regime. In my case, as is the case
with all North Korean women, we have
never had pride either in North Korea
or in China, she says. All women
should have pride, but in North Korea
women dont even have that.
I was sold [by the trafficker] in
China; I couldnt even make eye
contact with anyone. I always thought
that was a womans destiny. After I
arrived here I saw other British women
live their lives: I was surprised by this
new world.
Her home in that new world is
Manchester where the former maths
teacher is now the North Korean
outreach and project officer for the
European Alliance for Human Rights in
North Korea (EAHRNK).
We are an NGO that works with
North Korean refugees living in Europe
to help them tell European and EU
politicians the realities of life in North
Korea, and to get them to lobby for
lasting change there. I am happy in
this job as I feel I am giving my fellow
North Koreans a voice and helping to

For over
40 years
I did not

make a positive impact.

Apart from the weather my
husband and I joke that it always
seems to be raining in Manchester
she says life in Britain has given me so
many freedoms that I never thought I
would have.
It was not until I reached the United
Kingdom that I learnt what human
rights were, and that mine had been
I had not heard about the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, or
what a refugee was. I was
overwhelmed to find out that I
could choose to do and to be what I
When I arrived in the United
Kingdom, I was based in Liverpool.
I stayed there for 20 days, before
being relocated by the Home Office
to Manchester, where I have lived
ever since. There is a large Korean
community in Manchester, so I found it
easy to find familiar foods, and people
who spoke my language.
For more than 40 years, I did not
know happiness, love or what it means
to be human, she says.
On the day that the UK
Government gave me a refugee visa
and an ID card, tears came from deep
inside my heart: I could not say any
words at all.
I remember, I was sitting around
the dinner table with my family my
husband and my three children. We
were talking about our day and how
the childrens day at school was, just
talking and laughing and smiling.
That was when I felt happiness for the
first time.


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Sending children away from

the home they know

t is 10 March and your plane leaves

at 10:30am. You have spent three
weeks sitting in a detention centre.
Your crime? Migrating alone at a young
age to seek safety in the UK. You are being
forced to leave the country in which you
have made a new life to go to a place you no
longer know. At 10:29am you are taken off
the plane. At the last minute the court has
allowed you to stay. Your destination? Back
to the detention centre.
This was the recent experience of a
young Afghan migrant despite support
from the South London Refugee
Association (SLRA), an organisation that
provides relief for new refugees in London.
Every year hundreds of unaccompanied
children come to the UK fleeing desperate
situations in their home countries. If
not granted asylum, most are given
discretionary leave to remain in the UK.
This means they have permission to stay
temporarily until they are 17 . They are
usually put into foster care or a semiindependent living situation. Then they
must make a further application to stay.
Maya Pritchard, a youth caseworker at
the SLRA, explains: Their relationships,
their whole life is suspended, awaiting this
grant of leave which, if justice had been
properly served, should have been granted
in the first place.
An extension is often refused, leading to
a lengthy appeals process. If not granted
asylum, the individual may be detained
awaiting deportation.

From Sue
Claytons film
Hamedullah: the
road home

Hes on
the street,

Disputes about age are common. We

see it all the time. It could mean them
being detained, it could mean them not
having access to local authority support.
Im working with one person who is 15 and
the Home Office says hes 18. Hes on the
street, homeless.
In 2011, film-maker Sue Clayton made a
documentary about teenager Hamedullah
Hassany as he was shuffled through
detention centres before being sent back
to Afghanistan. She provided him with a
small camera to film his experiences there.
He chronicled a series of ever worsening
difficulties: the problem of starting a new
life in a strange place, peoples suspicions
about where he had been and what he
had been doing for years, his cultural
alienation, his growing depression over his
Pritchard describes how the youngsters
she supports have created their own
communities in the UK. Theyve all built
support networks here in the absence of
families. One of them has two younger
brothers here. Theyre both children in care
and so theyve been granted refugee status
but he hasnt.
Two of the young people are in college
doing full-time education. One of them
is studying health and he has a girlfriend.
They have been together three years and
she has a British passport. His whole family
died in Afghanistan. He was in foster
care and still has a relationship with his
previous foster family; thats his family.


Right to Remain, a UK-based

organisation that supports migrants
in their fight to remain in the country,
commented, The evidence has been
consistent for several years that young
Afghans are put in grave danger if deported
to Afghanistan, with many forced to
immediately re-migrate for their own, and
their familys, safety.
Research has shown that deportees end
up in makeshift camps in Kabul, exposed
to indiscriminate violence, harsh winters
and other socio-economic hardships.
Young people who have been deported
from the UK and other European countries
are particularly at risk, marked out as
different and therefore dangerous and
often unIslamic by their time spent in the
The organisation says that the risks of
being sent back to Afghanistan have been
made clear: The Afghan Minister for
Refugees has recently issued a statement
urging European governments to stop
deporting Afghan nationals, as the Afghan
government is unable to support people
returned to Kabul [which deporting
governments define as safe] and cannot
guarantee their safety.
Right to Remain calls on the UK
government to take responsibility for the
lives of people it is attempting to forcibly
remove from the country in which they
have spent their formative years, and now
call home.
Allison McLellan

War of words over interpreters

t a time when the question of
immigration is divisive, there is
one group of would-be migrants
many Britons would welcome.
The UKs own army of migrant workers
includes up to 10,000 men and women
who fought in Afghanistan from 2001
to 2014. In that time they employed
about 4,000 Afghan civilians, including
an unknown number of interpreters who
faced many of the same risks as British
At least 26 interpreters were killed and
150 wounded during action in Afghanistan
so far. But the risks for local staff did
not end when British troops finally left
Afghanistan last year.
In Italian there is a saying: traduttori,
traditiri. It means to translate is to
betray. It is used by translators the world
over to express the difficulty of faithful
translation from one language to another.
But in the code of the Afghan Taliban,
anyone working for the International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
(ISAF) is a traitor.
Even before the last British troops came
home in December 2014, interpreters were
being targeted by the Taliban who offered
cash rewards for their capture.
But who has betrayed whom? Rafi
worked for the British forces in Helmand
Province where he was seriously injured by
a roadside bomb. He carried on working
but after five years left his job because of
Taliban threats. He arrived in Britain via
Turkey, Italy and France and a journey
which, he told Refugee Action, was
sometimes more dangerous than being in
In Britain, Rafis fluent English was
suddenly a handicap. He told Refugee
Action that UK Border Agency officials
initially refused his claim because his
English was so good they did not believe he
was from Afghanistan. It was not until his
case was taken up by the media that he was
granted asylum, 17 months after making
his claim.
Barri was an interpreter for eight
months before resigning in deference
to his mothers fears. That made no
difference to the Taliban. First they killed
his father, then one of his brothers. He
sent his mother, younger brother and
sister to seek safety in Europe. They tried
to cross the Mediterranean. Only his
brother survived after the boat in which
they were travelling capsized.
When Barri and his brother were
granted asylum in Germany yet refused
entry to Britain, former British army
officers, including Winston Churchills

If a man is
prepared to
risk his life
to keep the
streets of
the UK safe,
then he has
the right
to walk on
those same

A street scene
in Afghanistan

grandson, petitioned the British

government on behalf of all former British
forces interpreters in Afghanistan. They
saw Britain as betraying its duty.
As Major James Driscoll said, If a man is
prepared to risk his life to keep the streets
of the UK safe, then he has the right to
walk on those same streets.
Although some Afghan interpreters
have been offered leave to enter (but not
to work and not necessarily to stay!), the
gate is a narrow one. British troops entered
Afghanistan in November 2001 but only
local staff at work on 19 December 2012,
who had served for 12 months and who
were directly contracted by the British
government, are eligible.
According to a statement by UK Defence
Secretary Philip Hammond in 2013, this
is likely to mean a maximum of 600 local
To be eligible for resettlement in
the UK, local staff must have routinely
worked in dangerous and challenging
roles in Helmand outside protected bases.
Hundreds more who worked before that
and who left their jobs for any reason
including threats by the Taliban are not
eligible. By November 2014, only 31 had
been allowed into the UK.
The UK resettlement scheme for Afghan

interpreters is far more restrictive than

the one offered in Iraq where up to 2,000
people, including interpreters, have been
admitted to Britain.
In January 2015, the Court of Appeal
granted permission for two Afghan
interpreters to argue that the British
governments failure to provide a
resettlement scheme on a par with that of
Iraqi interpreters is discriminatory. Both
men had worked for the UK Government
in Afghanistan for several years. Their
solicitors say they suffered serious injuries
in Taliban attacks and have been subjected
to intimidation and threats to their life.
The case will be tested again in the UK
courts when a judicial review is heard later
this year.
Philip Hammond says that the British
government wants to encourage local
staff to stay in Afghanistan and to use
their skills and knowledge to make it
stronger, better able to meet the challenges
ahead and to seize the opportunities.
It is providing redundancy packages
for interpreters who want to stay in
But, as one Afghan refugee told Migrant
Voice, You can only develop your country
if youre alive.

Sara Davidson




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Alice in Blunderland: Uncommon nonsense in the UK asylum system


ell, I never heard it before,

but it sounds uncommon
nonsense, says the
Mock Turtle to Alice when she travels in
Wonderland. The UK asylum system is no
Wonderland but it is full of nonsense for
anyone who looks at it closely.
People fleeing persecution can be
detained indefinitely... Children and
survivors of torture are among those
locked up... People are sometimes detained
even while trying to leave the country...
LGBT asylum-seekers are asked to provide
documentary evidence of their sexuality.
Many changes are needed in the asylum
system, and asylum-seekers and their
supporters are pushing for them. An allparty group of MPs has called for a 28-day
limit on detention, raising hopes that
immigration detention will become shorter
and used less.
Alice said: It would be so nice if
something made sense for a change. In the
meantime, we asked some asylum-seekers
to share their story with us to speak
about the nonsense created by the asylum
People who flee for their lives crave
safety and certainty. But they may
wait years for a decision - some up to
16 years, according to a 2013 Home
Affairs select committee report.

Temi: I claimed asylum in 2006 but they

forgot my case. I had to wait two years for
an interview about my claim.
During this time I was in a hostel and
had to share a small room with a lady I
didnt know. I was not allowed to work
and I had to live with around 30 a week.
During the night, men would come and
knock on our doors. I used to be very
scared that someone would break down
my door. Who knows what would have
After their initial interview, most
asylum-seekers report weekly
or monthly to a police station or
reporting centre. The Home Office
warns: You may be detained if you
dont go to your reporting meetings.
Yet it is common for individuals to be
detained when they attend.

Hagos: You feel very vulnerable. When

you know you have to report the next day,
you dont sleep or you have nightmares.
You are worried you will be detained or
deported. And after the day, you have
flashbacks to what happened. Sometimes
reporting is weekly. You are afraid of
everything. When you go to report, you
sometimes have to queue for more than an

Using the Azure card is not easy. The

receipt coming out of the machine says
that you need to sign it. So cashiers want to
compare my signature with the one on my
card like they would do with any another
payment card but you cannot sign the
Azure card!
So the cashier calls the manager.
And sometimes the manager calls their
supervisor. It can take up to 20 minutes
to explain my situation. I dont want to
mention I am an asylum-seeker. I feel so
embarrassed with all these people standing
behind me in the queue.
Checking the balance is also an issue.
The number you have to call is not free
from a mobile. You need to use a landline.
But which asylum-seeker has a landline?
A parliamentary committee heard
evidence about supermarket staff refusing
to allow cardholders to purchase socks,
toiletries, orange juice, childrens clothing
and a lavatory brush. It called on the
government to find a better way forward.

LGBT asylum-seekers may

be asked to provide sexually
explicit photographs or videos
of themselves to prove their

hour outside in all weather - rain or cold.

You are not protected from that.

cant be returned to their country of

origin are given 35.39 a week loaded
on an Azure card.

Because of the experiences that

led asylum-seekers to flee, they can
be afraid of officials. But security
staff often behave in an intimidating

Ahmad: That is very little money. Luckily I

am quite good at cooking and I cook almost
every day. But imagine if you cannot cook!
If you buy a sandwich at 1.99, a salad bowl
at 1.50, a coke at 30p and a bottle of water
at 1.50, you will have spent all your 5 for
one meal. You will have nothing left for the
rest of the day.
Sometimes I go for really low quality
food because I want to save money for the
week after and spend more than 35.39
because this money is not only for food.
You also need to top-up your phone to stay
in touch with your family in your home
country and to buy some clothes and
I cannot use this money the way I want.
I cannot buy any kind of travel cards, bus
tickets or train tickets with this Azure card.
This keeps me locked in my room. If I want
to use public transport, I have to go to a
charity and ask them to give me some cash.
With the Azure card I can only go to a
restricted number of supermarkets and
charity shops. I usually buy second-hand
clothes. The other day I bought secondhand shoes which looked good and new.
But one shoe was size 10 and the other size
11. Anyway, I wear them. What choice do
I have?

Hagos: Staff try to intimidate you. They

are not polite, they shout at you. You are
treated like a criminal, not like a human
being. Seeking asylum is not a crime. If you
have been through rape and torture and
you came to the UK looking for protection
and you are treated like this - you feel you
are unsafe, you are in a worse place than
Applicants are often traumatised,
but are treated impersonally when
above all they need the human touch.

Temi: When people arrive in the UK they

are traumatised by their journey. They
just want to be loved, to be able to heal.
But nobody approaches you. No charity,
no MP, no-one ever came to visit us at the
hostel. Treating trauma is only possible
if someone speaks to you. Then you can
forget it.
Some asylum-seekers who are
refused asylum and are destitute but
who have made a new application or

One shoe
was size
10 and the
other size 11.
I wear

Having fled persecution and in some

countries, death for their sexuality, they
would never carry such pictures, which
would obviously be incriminating in their
own countries and in some of the countries
through which they pass to get to Britain.
Aderonke: In Nigeria she was tortured and
endured the murders of her girlfriend and
three members of her family. She claimed
asylum in Britain in 2004 after being
sentenced to death by stoning after a false
allegation of adultery. Her asylum claim

has been refused and she is under threat of

deportation to Nigeria.
The latest judicial review, in March, of
the decision to deport her raised concerns
about the rights of LGBT asylum-seekers.
The Home Office barrister referred to
her marriage and child, arguing that one
cant be a heterosexual one day and a
homosexual another.
What he said during the review was
something that one would never expect
from a representative of the state. He made
a mockery of my sexuality and my mental
health issues. Since that day my health has
deteriorated again.
My case has been in the media in my
country. Now everybody knows who I am
and that I am claiming asylum because I
am a lesbian. If I was forcibly returned I
would be sentenced to a 14-year prison
sentence for being a lesbian. I have also
received death threats, so I do not know
what would happen.
Last year [Home Secretary] Theresa
May announced a review into the
over-intrusive questioning of LGBT
asylum-seekers by Home Office staff.
It was followed in February 2015 by
the publication of guidance for Home
Office caseworkers. But when you see
how I was treated, it shows that writing
recommendations is not enough. You need
to apply them.
The Home Office should apply
sensitivity when interviewing and
making decision with LGBT asylumseekers. They should remember that your
sexual orientation is a personal thing that
you dont want to disclose to people.
They also need to consider what being
LGBT means in the asylum-seekers

Women who have been raped or

beaten up by men may be questioned
by men, sometimes with children in
the room.
The guidance says an asylum-seeker
can ask for either a male or female
interviewer and/or interpreter, but this
is not always followed.

cant be a
one day
and a

Home Office guidance says Parents must

not be expected to give an account of past
persecution in front of their children.
For those who are unable to arrange
childcare on the date their interview
has been booked, offices should be as
accommodating as possible, either by
rescheduling the interview for a day when
the claimant is able to arrange childcare, if
that is their preference. Yet several offices
do not offer childcare.
Annick: I fled from Cameroon with my
five-year-old son because I was involved
in political activities that put me at risk of
harm by the authorities and I had a violent
I found from other women seeking
asylum that the domestic violence I had
suffered might be relevant to my case. But I
was interviewed with my son in the room.
I could have said more but the little boy
was there. He has not seen my husbands
violence and I dont want to bias his mind. I
dont want him to go through that trauma.
I was also disturbed because he wanted
I also found it difficult to talk about
domestic violence to a male caseworker. It
is easier to trust a woman about this. If the
interviewer had been a woman she could
have looked at my case from the point of
view of a mother, put herself in my shoes.
Fanny Flormont

Love Letters to the Home Office


his is the only time in Britains history

when our human rights are based
on what we earn, says Katharine Rose
Williams Radojicic.
She is referring to the requirement
that for your foreign spouse to join you in
your own country you need to prove your
income is over 18,600 a year (and, as an
extra deterrent to family life, its more if
you have children). This means that
43 per cent of the UK working population
are prevented from sponsoring a foreign
partner, according to the Migration
Observatory - and discriminate against the
young, the old, women, ethnic minorities,
disabled people and those living outside

image composition
by emma tompkins

London and the south-east.

It may not sound a lot but why is there
a price on family life at all, she asks.
And as she discovered after marrying
Raco in Montenegro, even for your
husband to visit requires expensive fees,
proof of savings, and a disheartening pile of
Some of the accounting requirements
are so complex, she found, that the
officials supervising them do not always
understand them.
And even if you are finally reunited, the
spouses visa is reviewed after two-anda-half years and if you are not earning
enough your spouse can be sent home.

But Williams Radojicic has found a

way of fighting what she sees as a great
injustice. She and others hit by the 2012
Family Migration Law have compiled a
book featuring some of the extraordinary
stories of divided couples, and are now
preparing to take a play with the same title,
Love Letters to the Home Office, on tour,
starting at the Battersea Arts Centre in
London on 30 April-1 May.
They say they will send copies of the
book and information about the impact of
the family migration rules to every MP in
the new government.
Stories of the couples who took part, as well as
more details at www.lovelettershome.org.



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Alexander Muller



The Moving Wheel rolls on

Miro Cuba listens to diverse
music from a diverse area

I enjoyed
among all
Notting Hill was a vibrant international
experience for one new arrival in the Sixties.
How does he find it 50 years later?

hen young Ajit

Muttucumaraswami decided
in 1964 to study in England he
paid 55 to board a ship in a country that
then was called Ceylon. He arrived in a part
of West London now known for its trendy
shops, expensive restaurants and made
world famous by movie stars Hugh Grant
and Julia Roberts.
So how was Notting Hill then? And what
has changed since the retired Sri Lankan
accountant shared the 5 weekly rent for a
room in Kensington Church Street?
When he arrived in North Kensington
he reckons nearly a quarter of the
community were from Jamaica or other
parts of the Caribbean.
There were also quite a few continental
people from Spain, Russia, Germany, Italy,
and lots of Australians, he says. I really
enjoyed living among all nationalities. We
would talk about things happening in other
countries. It was interesting to hear the
different accents.
It was always a vibrant atmosphere
around Portobello Road. You would hear
more Caribbean music and occasionally
you would have steel drum bands playing.
It was music which was new to me. It
brightened up cold wintry days. What I
had been able to listen to before were
American and British singers, so this was
something new.

I used to walk to Portobello Market on

a Saturday or Sunday with my roommate
Patrick and other friends. Other Sri
Lankans came along on Sundays.
Beverley, Gloria and Margaret, our
Australian neighbours, came along with
us some days. We went with them on
anti-apartheid rallies at Trafalgar Square.
We got used to saying good day with an
Australian accent. You felt you were part of
Muttucumaraswami this mixed community and everyone talked
to you.
author of
Memoirs of a Tiger
Many English people were attracted
by the hustle and bustle of the world
market at their doorstep. It had happened
naturally. Such a collection of persons of
every colour and from almost every part
of the world would have been difficult to
The hustle
and bustle
So what was it like now returning to
of the world Notting Hill Underground station after all
these years?
Back then, the District Line train was
not as big or well designed. The new-style
train is large, easy to get into and get out
of. The platform looked neat and had its
Victorian roof with glass panels, letting the
sunlight in. Flower pots with real plants
added a touch of refinement.
As I walked out towards Kensington
Church Street, as I used to do, I noticed
that Caf Nero was where a tobacconist
had been. Selling tobacco is not a goer any

more. After the tobacconist, there used to

be a clothing shop, a boutique with suits,
shirts, ties, gloves, socks, coats. They were
all very attractive items but expensive. I
used to stop often to admire the display
but could not afford any of them.
I walked along Kensington Church
Street towards No 92, where I used to
live. I noticed the launderette I used every
weekend was no more. Instead, there was
an impressive restaurant. The launderette
was essential for us in the Sixties as we had
no other easy way of washing our clothes.
There were several new shops such a
florist, wine shop, dry cleaners, print house
and antique shops. They looked upmarket.
New arrivals would avoid them unless they
were rich tourists.
I walked up to No.92 and it looked the
same. On the opposite side there used to be
many antique shops. They were still there,
but some names had changed.
The Old Swan was where I spent many
pleasant evenings. Its still intact, but with
a few changes, making it look more like a
restaurant than a pub. I felt uncomfortable.
It was now catering to visitors to London
and well-heeled locals.
Stopping at the many estate agents
windows, I noted the rents were now
more like 400 for a week for studio flats.
The area was too expensive for workingclass people.

he beat goes on but it constantly

changes and surprises because the
band is Roma with Scottish, Jewish,
African, Maori and other influences.
E Karika Djal, Romany for The Moving
Wheel, originated from a local community
project in Scotlands most diverse area,
Govanhill in Glasgow.
The musicians are migrants or
descendants of migrants. The instruments
are diverse, too: fiddle, trumpet, clarinet,
saxophone, guitar, piano, double-bass,
drums, plus a Roma vocal trio.
Emil Gazi, one of the singing trio and at
20 the youngest member of the band, says
he has been surprised by the way other
musicians have slotted into Roma music.
The band started small and local in 2014
but early gigs in front of predominantly
Roma audiences attracted attention. Word
of mouth and the media spread the news,
music promoters and festival organisers
showed an interest and the band recently
recorded two of its own songs.
Its not just the music. E Karika Djal
creates a friendly, creative environment
whatever the musical taste or ethnicity of
participants and audiences.

They are
getting better
day by day

I have found it so friendly and

welcoming to sing and be a part of E Karika
Djal, says 35-year-old Jana Puskova, a
laundry worker when shes not on stage,
and its great that our traditional music is
finding its way into wider community.
Its also great that Romany youngsters
who are part of the band have a chance to
perform and maintain grassroots Roma
music, which is not always the case even
within the community.
The band aims to play more live shows

and perform at spring and summer music

festivals, with the repertoire expanding
from traditional Roma, Scottish, EastEuropean and Jewish music to take in
Maori music and Rajasthani rhythms.
Filip Rideg, a 39-year-old Slovak
designer, sums it up, You can tell that the
band is enjoying playing together. They
are getting better day by day. Their music
is lovely, fantastic and it has got a soul.
This way Roma music is similar to Scottish
music because it is passionate.

A marriage made in Brazil


t was a shared love of capoeira the

Brazilian martial art combining dance,
rhythm and music that first introduced
Samuel Mascote to his future wife, Joyce
Rodrigues Peres.
For 30-year-old Mascote, the appeal of
capoeira came from its fusion of different
art forms. Its roots can be traced to the
west African slaves who were trafficked to
Brazil to work on the land.
I started capoeira about 15 years ago.
I did acting and performance as a kid, but
never really danced because, as a bloke, it
was never really acceptable to do that sort
of thing, he says.
His first teacher was Papa Leguas,
a Brazilian capoeira master, through
whom he developed an affinity for South
American and African culture, eventually
opting to spend a gap year in Brazil to teach
capoeira and experience life there first-hand.
I met my wife there when I was 18.
but its only in the last three years that we
developed a relationship.
When they decided to marry, the couple
faced an uphill struggle with the UK

are trying to
do positive
Joyce tried to visit me for a month, but
she didnt have a visa and was turned back
at the airport, he explains.
We had to make a visa application to get
married and that was very difficult because
there was a clause regarding the financial
requirements to marry someone in the UK.
By this point, Mascote had moved to
Birmingham and opened a capoeira studio.
As a self-employed small businessman, it
was difficult to prove his earnings and their

visa application was unsuccessful.

Eventually, the couple had to marry in
Brazil and hire expensive lawyers to ensure
the successful outcome of a second visa
application. The experience affected how
Mascote views British society.
England has developed through the
influence of its colonies and what makes
it interesting is its multiculturalism.
Unfortunately there has been a shift away
from that Many Brazilians are trying to
do positive things in the UK but are not
Mascote is a passionate advocate of
the advantages capoeira can bring to a
community, which he says include the
strengthening of ties as well as overcoming
individualism and isolation something he
sees a lot of in the UK, unlike Brazil.
People, he says, need face-to-face
interactions: Being a member of
something, such as being in a choir or
doing salsa there is a big salsa scene in
Birmingham helps you make contact
with people, including people who are not
like you.
Thomas OFlaherty




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Annie Lennox shines a light on top women

DaniloMoroni / Marco Mignone for Women on the Move Awards

he achievements of four remarkable

women were recognised in March by
the Women on the Move Awards at
the Southbank Centre in London.
The awards were instituted in 2012 to
recognise exceptional migrant and refugee
women from across the UK who have made
an outstanding contribution to womens
empowerment and integration.
Annie Lennox presented the Woman of
the Year Award to Dr Sonia Khoury who
became a refugee from the conflict in Syria
in 2011. Now living in Wales, Khoury
supports migrant women in establishing a
new life in the UK.
The Young Woman of the Year Award

was made to Chrisann Jarrett. Now a

law student at the London School of
Economics, Jarrett founded Let Us Learn,
an organisation campaigning for the
rights of irregular and undocumented
young people frozen out of higher
education by their immigration status.
A Special Jury Award was presented
to Asma Mohamed Ali. She came to
the UK from Somalia in 1992 having
spent much of her childhood in Kenyan
refugee camps. Now working at the
Somali Bravanese Welfare Association in
London, Ali has built a thriving centre and
education programme that supports 200
students and their families.

DaniloMoroni / Marco Mignone for Women on the Move Awards

The Champion Award was given to

Pauline Hawkes, a foster carer for over
a decade when she heard about the
situation facing refugee children around
the world. She set up her own foster
care agency, the Phoenix Centre, which
has looked after more than 150 migrant
The Media Award went to Giles
Duley for his Channel 4 Unreported
World documentary on disabled
Syrian refugees and Katie Razzall
for her BBC Newsnight report on
talented migrant students denied funding
for higher education featuring
Chrisann Jarrett.
Chrisann Jarrett (right)
and Livia Firth

Sonia Khoury (right) with Annie Lennox

Sonia Khoury
woman of the year
Sonia Khoury is a Syrian doctor who arrived in the UK
in 2011 to complete her PhD. She had to claim asylum
after civil war broke out in her country. She lives in North
Wales where she helps migrant women, particularly those
fleeing domestic abuse, to establish a new life.
When Dr Sonia Khoury was helping Iraqi refugees in her
native Syria following the Iraq war little did she imagine
that she would soon become a refugee herself.
In October 2011 she arrived in the UK to pursue her
studies in medical research at Bangor University, but within
weeks civil war erupted in Syria.
As violence quickly spread, Dr Khoury realised it was too
dangerous for her and her young daughter Zein to return
to Damascus. She applied for refugee status while living in
Llandudno, North Wales, where she already had friends.
But studying while awaiting a decision on her future
status to remain was not enough for the 44-year-old
mother: I want to make a real contribution where Im living
now, she says.
In her new home she works more than full time for
the Black Association of Women Step Out Womens Aid.
There she supports other migrant women, especially
those fleeing domestic violence: All women are survivors
and we can really make a difference.
Dr Khoury has also become an articulate and passionate
voice on refugee matters on the national stage.
She believes in taking positive, practical action and
that is where her local and national work is so important.
Refugees want to contribute to their new society and to
be integrated into it.
As a woman and a refugee I know how difficult it is for
Syrians. I want to reflect that experience and make their
voices heard.
Women are so powerful and whatever the obstacles we
can overcome them together.
Making Llandudno her home has eased that process of
I live in a beautiful place and I have not experienced any
racism in Wales, she says.

From Zumba to human rights

celebrating Latino life in Britain

oting is on for the Zumba teacher of the year and

the charity worker of the year and 48 other
categories celebrating Latino contribution to life in
Other categories in the Latin UK Awards, better
known as Lukas, cover music, dance, sport, business,
arts and society. Last year about 350,000 votes were
Last year actress and human rights activist
Nicaraguan-born Bianca Jagger won the Lifetime
Achievement award for her contribution to human
rights. Former Spurs player and manager Osvaldo
Ardiles, who is from Argentina, won the Lifetime
Achievement award for his contribution to sport.
We started the awards because the Latin American,
Spanish and Portuguese communities have been
growing and influencing British society for several
decades now, says Lukas co-founder Amaranta
Wright. Theres hardly a pub without its salsa night,
a gym without a Zumba class, or a high street without
a tapas bar.
Latino influence is everywhere - yet until the Lukas
there was nothing that recognised the cultures and
people driving these influences.
The Latino population has been described as
invisible but is believed to total at least 200,000.
The largest national group are Brazilians, followed
by Colombians. The Coalition of Latin Americans in
the UK aims to get the Latino community recognised
as an ethnic category in its own right, so it can make
its voice heard and get access to services.
So far only two London boroughs have officially


Bianca Jagger: Lifetime achievement award

recognised Latin Americans as an ethnic group. The

small Elephant and Castle district in south London
alone is home to more than 80 Latin American
A survey for a 2011 report, No Longer Invisible: The
Latin American Community in London, found that
40 per cent of Latino respondents reported that they
had experienced workplace abuse and exploitation,
and 70 per cent pinpointed discrimination as a major
barrier to improving their quality of life.
Wright says tackling prejudice and discrimination is
one of the aims of the awards:
The Lukas is a great celebration of Latin culture
in all its diversity, but also a way of nurturing a better
understanding and appreciation of these cultures
among the general public.
The winners of the awards will be unveiled
on 13 May.

Kurds celebrate success in UK

ChrisanN Jarrett
YOUNG woman of the year
Chrisann Jarrett arrived in the UK
from Jamaica as an eight-year-old and
within 10 years had become head girl
at her London school. Her academic
success won her a place to study law at
the London School of Economics. But
then she discovered that her unsettled
immigration status meant she could
not obtain a student loan. She started
Let Us Learn to campaign for fair
access to higher education.
If in a few years time you hear of a
bright young lawyer speaking out
powerfully about the rights of young
people, you might have come across
Chrisann Jarrett.
She will have learned some of that as
the result of her legal studies at the LSE.
But the force of her words and actions
will also derive from her own battle
to secure funding for her own higher

education and the way she has inspired

other young people to do the same.
Id never thought about immigration
issues until I found out I couldnt apply
for a student loan after being accepted
by LSE, says the Jamaican-born
I saw my whole world crumbling
around me, she says. I watched as
all my friends were having an exciting
week as freshers. I was looking at the
internet for scholarships, and there
were none. It was crushing.
She had fallen foul of a change in
government policy. Since September
2012, non-UK nationals with
discretionary or limited leave to remain
became no longer eligible for student
finance. Worse, they were deemed
to be international students and thus
expected to pay full overseas fees. At
LSE these are currently 17,000 for

annual tuition alone.

Jarrett deferred her place to work
as an intern at a charity helping young
people, Just for Kids Law. From there
and with their help she lobbied the
prestigious LSE which then came up
with a full scholarship permitting her to
take up her place in 2014.
What persuaded Jarrett to fight for
her future and that of other young
people faced with similar barriers to
their future?
Initially I was hesitant, but I soon
realised I had to be brave and go
public with this, she says.
She founded Let Us Learn to give
voice to those concerns and initially
gathered support through her local
London newspapers. The Guardian
newspaper picked up her story and
spread word of her campaign to a
wider audience.
She says the next stage of the Let
Us Learn campaign will be to persuade
universities to establish a specific fund
to support these students.

ritains 250,000 Kurds can finally give themselves

a pat on the back.
The main growth in the community has been since
the early 1980s, and this year for the first time they
celebrated the holding of the Most Successful Kurds in
Britain Awards.
The Most Successful Role Model award went to
Shayan Moftizadeh, who arrived in Britain at the age
of five, is a government researcher at the College of
Policing and believes public opinion can be changed by
highlighting the achievements of migrants.
The emphasis should be on how much we contribute
to UK society, not where we are coming from, she said
at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament.
The Conservative MP for Stratford on Avon, Nadhim
Zahawi, who was born to Kurdish parents in Baghdad
and arrived in the UK at age seven, was named Most
Successful Politician.
He said he was worried by reports from the region
that the Kurds are misbehaving again, they are being
difficult and he commented, I hope we can remain
united as Kurds because the challenges ahead are
greater than 27 years ago a reference to a chemical
attack on Kurds in the city of Halabja in 1988.

The Most Successful Student award went to

Shaswar Baban, a PhD telecommunications student at
Kings College London. He is focusing on the future: It
is not a matter of waiting for society to do everything
for us, he said. It is about what we are doing for
society regardless of our background.
Most Successful Student Society award went to the
Kurdish Society at the School of Oriental and African
Studies in London, which promotes Kurdish studies as
an academic discipline.
Other winners included businessmen Savas
and Bayram Yuksel, whose chain of supermarkets,
Cudi, is named after a Kurdish mountain;
businesswoman Isil Guler; Gary Kent, who works
for Parliaments all-party group on the Kurdistan
region in Iraq, Estella Schmid, a campaigner for
peace in Kurdistan; and chartered surveyor Sahin
Anush, who established his own firm at the age of 24,
who was presented with the Most Successful Young
Entrepreneur award.
Ann Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley and a
former special envoy on human rights in Iraq, was
honoured for her extraordinary contribution to the
Kurdish cause.




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Time for
a change

Turning landlords
into border guards

Sarah Teather, chair of the Inquiry into

the Use of Immigration Detention in the

Saira Grant, legal and policy director for the Joint Council
for the Welfare of Immigrants

iving evidence by phone from inside

Colnbrook Immigration Removal
Centre, a young man caused a roomful of
people in the Houses of Parliament to gasp.
I had asked him how long he had been in
Three years, he replied.
The young man, who was speaking
anonymously, was giving evidence
via a phone link to an all-party group
of parliamentarians holding an
inquiry into the use of immigration
Not only is the UK the only country in
the European Union that does not have
a time limit on how long individuals can
be held in detention for immigration
purposes, but we also detain a very high
number of people and for long periods.
During the inquiry we heard from others
who had either been in detention or who
were still detained. From what we heard
it was clear that the lack of a time limit
results in people being left in a desperate
limbo, not knowing if tomorrow theyll
be released, removed from the country,
or continue being held in conditions
tantamount to a high security prison.
We also heard from psychologists who
told us about the impact of detention on
mental health. A psychologist from the
Helen Bamber Foundation, which helps
survivors of human rights violations,
highlighted research that showed that after
30 days people start to develop mental
illnesses not because they were unwell
when they began detention, but because
the very nature of being detained is
unhealthy and damaging.
At the beginning of March we published
our report. Our key recommendation
is that the next government should
introduce a detention time limit of
28 days.
But during the inquiry it became clear
that such a change would be possible only
if there was a wholesale change in the way
the Home Office engages with people.
To do this, lessons should be learnt from
countries such as Sweden who detain
far fewer people and for far less time
by actively engaging with people in the
community early on in the immigration
process, rather than relying on expensive
enforcement processes.
It is time to end the reliance on
immigration detention, and it is time to
end indefinite detention. It is time for a
time limit.

s part of its hostile environment for irregular migrants,

last years Immigration Act introduced landlord immigrant
checks. This means that all landlords will have to act like border
guards and check the immigration status of anyone they rent their
property to.
In the run-up to the Immigration Act there was much concern
that this would lead to the days of the No Blacks, No Dogs, No
Irish signs seen in home windows in the 1960s.
The government states that checking immigration status is
simple: landlords should complete status checks, store documents
and re-do checks when someones leave to remain in the UK
changes. If they fail to do so, they can be fined up to 3,000 for
each tenant.
It is not difficult to see how a
in brief
landlord might choose to rent
The Immigration Act
2014 means landlords
to someone who is white with
must check the
a British passport rather than
immigration status of
taking the risk of renting to
prospective tenants
someone who obviously looks or
or face a fine of up to
sounds foreign.
3,000 for each tenant
As a result of the concerns
There are concerns
about racism, discrimination
that the new rules force
and exploitation of tenants by
landlords to become
unscrupulous landlords, Labour
immigration agents
and the Liberal Democrats while and open the way for
discrimination against
not resisting these provisions
certain tenants
insisted on a pilot scheme.
This pilot began on 1
Early findings indicate
December 2014 in Birmingham,
that the new rules are
Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell already leading landlords
to charge extra fees and
and Walsall. It will run until
discriminate against
May 2015, after which it will
people who look or sound
be evaluated by a Home Office
advisory panel. It hopes to publish
If the pilot is deemed
a report later this year. This
successful, it will be rolled
government has made it clear
out nationally and will
it wants the scheme to operate
affect all landlords and
nationally and, despite carrying
out an evaluation, the Home office
has been preparing for a national roll-out after the general election.
Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX), which is run through
the Joint council for the Welfare of Immigrants, is working with
Shelter, the National Union of Students and other national and West
Midlands organisations to evaluate the scheme independently.
We are concerned that the scheme will impact on vulnerable
tenants, and we have been told of stories of discrimination.
Tenants are being denied accommodation because of their accent,
some are having to make repairs to the property in order to secure
it and others have been treated aggressively.
Interestingly, many landlords in the pilot areas are completely
unaware of the checks and many feel the checks place an unfair
burden on them.
We have prepared two questionnaires, one for tenants and
lodgers and one for landlords and agents. The responses will
provide us with vital data to evaluate the scheme.
There is a chink of hope in that the Shadow Immigration
Minister has told me, If Labour win, this scheme is going to see
the long grass.
For more information contact MAX@jcwi.org.uk

Immigration removal centre Morton Hall

The price of indefinite detention


he UK is the only country in the

European Union with no upper time
limit on detention for immigration
At the end of 2014 there were 3,462
people in immigration detention. Of these,
397 had been detained for more than six
months, 108 for longer than a year, and 18
for longer than two years.
The longer a person is detained, the less
likely they are to be deported.
It costs over 30,000 to detain one
person for one year. In addition, the
government faced a payout of 13 million
compensation to victims of unlawful
detention last year alone.
A recently published recommendation

Its a

by the cross-party inquiry into the use of

immigration detention suggested that
the next government should introduce
a maximum time limit of 28 days for
immigration detention.
It also recommended that the
government should seek out opportunities
to allow individuals to live in the
community, enabling immigration to be
controlled at lower cost.
The panel concluded that the lack of a
time limit has significant mental health
costs for detainees as well as considerable
financial costs for the taxpayer.
It said depriving individuals of their
liberty for breaking immigration rules
should be an absolute last resort, that

Soulemaynes story:
I have spent 3.5 years in detention
in the UK after being arrested for
working in Britain under a false
passport and serving 12 months in
The worst part of detention was not
knowing when it would end. If you are
in prison, you count down your days. In
detention, you count your days up.
After a year in detention I agreed to
return to my home country voluntarily,
which turned out to be impossible as I
had no travel documents.
I went to the embassy for an
interview but they would not issue

documents. My parents came from two

different countries, but both embassies
rejected my applications for a passport
I did not have a birth certificate to prove
my citizenship.
While in detention I was able to work
in the kitchen as an assistant chef. Before
my arrest, I had worked in a restaurant.
I was lucky to have the kitchen job. It
helped pass the time and gave me
something to focus on. I was working
five days a week from 9am to 7pm but
was earning only 1 an hour.
My job in the kitchen was my lifeline in
the detention centre. It helped me stay

Its like
coming out
of a cage
and not
where to

women who are victims of rape and sexual

violence should not be detained, and that
pregnant women should never be detained
for immigration purposes.
Channel 4 News found out that there
were 74 separate incidents of self-harm
needing medical treatment at Yarls Wood
detention centre in 2013.
The Channel 4 investigation led to the
suspension of a member of staff.
The Centre, where up to 400 women
and family groups can be held, is run by
private service company Serco. It manages
the centre on behalf of the Home Office,
but is not responsible for the provision of
healthcare there.
Six high court judgements since 2011
calm and motivated, to focus on a life
after detention. Because of my work, I
stayed out of trouble.
People in detention are vulnerable
people. Many have been through a
lot of hardship and the uncertainty of
detention adds extra stress. This has
a very negative impact on detainees
mental health. Many people cut
themselves or are depressed, some
even commit suicide. The endless
waiting can drive you insane.
In detention, everyone is very
isolated - it is hard to trust anyone.
Frequent transfers make it impossible
to build up this trust. You cant make
friends in detention.

UK HOME Office

have found that the detention of mentally

ill people for immigration purposes
breached the European Convention
on Human Rights. Yet detainees
may be unwilling to disclose mental
health problems to healthcare staff in
immigration removal centres. Mental
health conditions manifest themselves in
many different ways, so it can be difficult
for medically untrained Home Office staff
to detect any illness.
Living in limbo for years can leave a
detainee with significant mental health
problems. When detainees are released
back into the community, they often find
it difficult to lead normal lives. It is a loselose situation for both the detainee and the
Money wasted on detention could
be used for training programmes or
counselling for asylum-seekers in Britain,
making it easier for asylum-seekers
to integrate into the community and
ultimately contribute to the country.
This would be economically and socially
The debate around immigration
and asylum is often not about a true or
false claim but rather about numbers,
statistics and votes. Political priorities
overshadow the efficiency of the
system and the well-being of people
in detention.

Sabrina Huck




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The changing face of Britain


am an Immigrant is a poster campaign celebrating

immigrants as part of the fabric of multicultural Britain
and as major contributors to the nations prosperity.
The campaign is also designed as a response to the rise of
anti-immigration rhetoric in politics, and the need to shed
a positive light on immigrants and the social, economic and
cultural prosperity they bring to the nation.
Immigrants were invited to submit their contributions to
British society and 16 were chosen as the faces of the posters

which will be displayed nationally for at least three weeks at

950 tube and rail stations across the country.
Social media and a website will feature the posters, which
will allow other immigrants to submit their own photos and
contributions and thus tell their own story.
Initiated by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
and run through the Movement Against Xenophobia, the
campaign is financed with the help of over 1,524 crowdfund
supporters who contributed 54,101 in just three weeks.

The concept of the campaign has already achieved an

enormous amount of support from international
journalists, campaigners and other members of the public
across the world. A spokesperson for the Joint Council
for the Welfare of Immigrants expressed confidence that the
campaign would have a positive influence on the immigration
Immigrants are a part of our society and they should be
celebrated, not vilified.

For more information, or if you are a migrant and want your face on a poster in the digital campaign, contact JCWI: max@jcwi.org.uk




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13 million
the number of
refugees worldwide,

People on the move: who goes where

guilherme gaensly

Largest groups of

DREW COFFMAN www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Most refugees
come from
Afghanistan 2.7m
South Sudan 508,600

Most refugees
live in
Pakistan 1.6m
Lebanon 1.1m

Countries with
highest number
of new asylum
USA 47,500
Sweden 28,400

Syrians 59,600
Iraqis 28,900
Afghanistan 26,400
DR Congo

Internally Displaced Persons


igration goes in all directions,

though focus in the West tends
to be only on immigrants
moving there.
In reality, more than half the top
20 migration routes worldwide are
movements of people from one country in
the developing world to another.
Migration from developed to developing
regions also tends to be overlooked.
Currently this accounts for only 36
per cent of total migration, but there is
evidence that this flow is increasing.
The main reverse flow routes are the
US to Mexico and South Africa, Germany
to Turkey, Portugal to Brazil, and Italy to
Some of these new movements of
people are previous migrants returning
to their country of origin, either because
they want to keep in touch with their
countries of origin, or because economic
opportunities in these countries are rosier
than they used to be.
For decades, Mexicans have been
migrating northwards to the United
States about 3 million between 1995 and
2000. But the times they are a changin:
the number reportedly fell by half to 1.4
million in 2005-10, with an equal number
returning to Mexico.
The US State Department estimates
around one million US citizens
now live in Mexico. The last Mexican
census put the number of US-born

citizens there at 750,000.

Mexican cities such as Monterrey and
Queretaro are also big draws for Canadian
and European retirees.
Spain, which over the centuries has
seen shifts in migration to and from Latin
America, is currently seeing another
Between 1996 and 2010, the number
of Latin Americans taking Spanish
citizenship grew from 263,190 to 2.5
million. Now Europes economic crisis,
which has hit Spain badly, is causing the
flow to change again.
In 2011, emigration from Spain rose
26 per cent from the previous year, with
an estimated 500,000-plus emigrants,
including 445,000 foreign-born
individuals. Many were presumably Latin
Americans returning home. Nevertheless,
the rate of increase in emigration of
Spanish-born individuals outpaced
the emigration rate of foreign-born
A report by the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) points
to several interesting trends.
Although small in absolute terms,
migration from Ireland to Africa more
than doubled between 2008 and
2009, reaching 4,020 in 2010,
with the majority going to
Nigeria or South Africa.
The number of
Portuguese migrants in

Theres an
in the air


Passport power
A passport is a travel document issued by
a countrys authorities saying that you are
travelling under the protection of that country
and thus that it will take you back that is, the
receiving state wont get stuck with you.
Having a passport doesnt give you
automatic free entry to another country. A
country may tell another friendly country that
its nationals can enter without a visa; or it may
require a visa and give it free or for a fee.
If you are a Finnish, German, Swedish, US or
UK passport holder you can visit 174 countries

An estimated 4.1m people were newly

displaced within their countries as a result
of war and conflict. Countries with largest
IDP populations are:

without a visa.
At the other end of the scale are Afghanistan
with visa-free entry to only 28 countries, Iraq
to 31 and Somalia and Pakistan, 32.
The discrepancy is usually based on
considerations of who is seen to be a beneficial
visitor. Britons entering another country are
generally considered economically desirable
because there is an expectation that they bring
money to spend, and because they are seen as
more likely to go home later, whereas
visitors from many other countries are

of being less
beneficial, or more
likely to stay or not
spend much money.
Some nationals from states seen as
suspicious in migration terms are frustrated
because they want to come to
do business, for example, but may be met
by hostility and mistrust, based on oldfashioned stereotypes and sometimes

Africa has increased 42 per cent over the

past decade.
Britons are inveterate migrants, and
Australia remains the most popular home
for the estimated 4.7 million UK citizens
living abroad. But new destinations are
increasingly entering the statistics. The
New Statesman reported recently how
one expatriate has seen a rise in expats
in his adopted home of Shanghai, in
young plucky Brits whove made the
journey to the East, to pursue careers and

entrepreneurial ambitions.
You feel the buzz here, theres an energy
in the air. England is dreary and slow,
and you need a lot of money [to start a
business]. Everythings been done. But
where theres change, theres opportunity.
Migrants from Hong Kong, India and
Pakistan, typically the main non-EU
migrants to UK, no longer view Britain as
their destination of choice. Indians and
Pakistanis are turning to the Gulf for work.

Syrian Arab Republic 6.5m

Colombia 5.7m
DR Congo

International students
4 out of 5 international students
were living in the North in the
academic year 2009/10

Nishit Morsawala

Are you coming or going?

Kiri Kankhwende says its time to recognise the
virtue of all who display the courage to move

here are migrants and then there are

expatriates. When it comes to the immigration
debate, the word migrant is used to describe
those who come to the UK, while expatriate is for
Britons who choose to live abroad.
Language matters. The word migrant is often
used negatively, while expatriate conjures up
images of a high-flying executive. Yet both groups
have similar motivations usually the search for a
better life.
In February 2014 the Financial Times reported
that the number of European migrants in the UK
is almost equal to the number of Britons living
elsewhere in the EU.
According to the EUobserver, ther are 2.3 million
EU citizens in the UK, while there are 2.2. million
Britons living in the other EU countries.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said free
movement was a genuine two-way street As
many Britons work or retire across the Channel or
the Irish Sea as other Europeans come here.

Anti-European scaremongering by UKIP and

their Tory fellow travellers doesnt just damage
investment and society in Britain. If it goes on, it
could poison the atmosphere for 2 million of our
fellow countrymen in the rest of Europe.
Free movement is often portrayed in the UK
media as an open door to unfettered immigration
rather than a principle as fundamental to
the vision of the European Union as the free
movement of goods, capital and services. There
is rarely an acknowledgment of how Brits benefit
from freedom of movement to live and work
elsewhere in Europe or seek a new life further
Most migrants want a better life for themselves
or their families better education, standard of
living, work opportunities or family reunification.
Sometimes they just wish to see the world.
Some are forced to move while others choose to
do so freely. Whatever the nuances of the situation,
the rootless, marauding migrants of tabloid and
government imagination those who leave all that
they know and love for a council house, welfare

payouts and free healthcare do not exist.

There are abuses of the system, but the numbers
are almost statistically negligible.
One doctors story struck me as a typical migrant
story. She thought she would spend a year in
Australia, but it soon became 18 months and may
last even longer.
That happened to me: London was supposed
to be a stopover on my way back to Malawi
after I finished university. One summer became a
British emigrants and immigrants to the UK
have a lot more in common than the language of
expatriates and migrants would suggest.
A step towards greater understanding and a
more respectful, honest and realistic immigration
debate would be to acknowledge three things.
One, that Britons who live abroad and
immigrants to this country are all migrants.
Two, that being a migrant can and should be a
badge of honour.
Three, that what we have in common in that
migrant journey is more than what divides us.




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UNHCR/ I. Prickett

Wanted: a fairer deal for Syrian refugees

Then and now: Britain as a safe

haven for the persecuted


Most of the millions of Syrians fleeing the civil war have

found sanctuary in neighbouring countries, but barely
150 have been accepted by Britain. Harriet Grant reports

s the war in Syria enters its fifth

year there is still no agreement
within Europe on the best way
to provide protection to the millions of
refugees who have fled since 2011.
While European Union law states that
asylum-seekers should apply in the first
country they enter, usually in southern
Europe, in practice most Syrians trying to
reach Europe head for member countries in
the north.
Over 40,000 Syrians arrived across
Italys borders in 2014 alone, but
since 2011 there have only been 2,000
applications for asylum there. They move
on and apply elsewhere. Over half of all
Syrian refugees in Europe have been given
protection in Sweden and Germany.
In the UK there is a high recognition rate
for those Syrians who make it across the
Channel: 86 per cent of arrivals have been
given some sort of protection. But to get to
the UK legally is almost impossible. Only a
few thousand visas for travel were granted
to Syrians from outside the UK last year.
The number of visas granted has dropped
every year since the war started.
The controversial EU law that stipulates

that asylum-seekers must claim sanctuary

in their first safe country of entry is known
as the Dublin regulations. Campaigners
who oppose it say poor reception and
accommodation conditions in Italy, Greece
and Bulgaria put refugees in a difficult
position when trying to start a new life.
The UN refugee agency recently called
for a better distribution of refugees
throughout Europe. It wants to see Syrians
given more safe routes into countries of
their choosing, perhaps based on family
links or work and language skills. This,
the organisation says, would reduce the
numbers going to Germany and Sweden,
and give Syrians an incentive to stay in
their country of arrival.
This would stop the huge numbers
of Syrians who currently stay under the
radar, travelling illegally so they can avoid
the fingerprint identification that would
trap them in Italy or Greece. Anyone
fingerprinted in these countries can be
sent back there under the Dublin law.
In February, the head of the refugee
agency, Antonio Guterres, asked the UN
Security Council to back better burdensharing of the crisis across Europe.

Syrian refugees
cross over into
the outskirts of
Kobani, Turkey
after fleering their
inset: UNHCR
special envoy
Angelina Jolie
meets Syrian
refugees in Domiz
refugee camp,
in Iraq, on 25
January 2015

on Syrias

Following the example of countries

like Germany and Sweden, other states
in Europe and the Gulf region should
consider offering legal access with more
opportunities, in order to alleviate some
of the pressure on Syrias neighbours and
give more refugees an alternative way of
reaching safety, he said.
The refugee agencys refugee
resettlement programme aims to take
the most vulnerable Syrians from camps
and move them to safety without the
danger of an illegal journey. Despite a call
for all European countries to participate,
there has been a sharp discrepancy in

Paradise is
hard work
Necola Moussa looks back on three
years of making a new life after
fleeing from Syria
When I arrived here from Syria I hoped
to put an end to the suffering of past
In coming, I had to give up old ideas
and old friends: I hoped to make new
ones. But by the end of my first year, I
was lonely and depressed. The Home

the number of places offered. Germany

has again led the response, offering to give
homes to over 30,000 Syrians. The UK
originally resisted, saying it was focusing
on contributing to the humanitarian
response, but last year agreed to resettle
a few hundred people. So far 143 Syrians
have been resettled in the UK.
Turkeys President Recept Tayip Erdogan
commented, Do you know how many
displaced Syrians have been received by
European countries? 200,000. We have
welcomed two million. What a difference!
Western countries, who claim they are
much richer than us, leave refugees to die.
Office was still to make a decision on
my status and I was without official
I felt I could do nothing other than go
round in circles. Homesickness overtook
me. I had left behind the security of work
and the comfort of relatives and friends,
swapping them for a forest of cement, a
narrow room and a closed border.
I was torn constantly between my
home country and my adopted country.
The only thing that eased my sense of
alienation was reading and so I sought
solace in books.
In the second year I received a positive
decision from the Home Office, and
gradually my life began to change.
Learning English was my next priority.

n November 1938 the British parliament agreed to

give refuge to 10,000 Jewish children from across
Europe who were threatened by Nazi persecution, a
policy known as the Kindertransport.
Arguing for the policy, Home Secretary Samuel
Hoare appealed to a well-established idea of Britain
as liberal, just and fair. He called for the government
to take the opportunity to be worthy of our own
standards in carrying out this task of relief and
In January 2014 Shadow Home Secretary Yvette
Cooper invoked a similar notion of British identity
to argue for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in
Britain: Our long tradition of giving that help and
sanctuary, and of providing refuge for the most
desperate is a testimony to what kind of country
Britain is and wants to be.
These speeches show how immigration policy
is embedded in the ongoing struggle over British
national identity. In both crises, liberal ideas of British
identity were used to gain support for a more open
immigration policy. And in both crises, this idealised
notion of British values was competing with pressures
to exclude and discriminate against asylum-seekers.
Despite vigorous parliamentary and public
opposition, in which anti-Semitism and xenophobia
were rife, the 1938 debate led to a progressive policy
that saved thousands of lives.
Last year, however, the idea of liberal, welcoming
Britain conjured up by Labours Cooper, Liberal
Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Conservative Home
Secretary Theresa May and others failed to capture
broad support. Instead, policy has given in to the
prevailing anti-immigration mood and just a few
hundred Syrians were offered refuge, with only less
than 150 having already arrived.
The contrasting policies can partly be explained
by differences in the situations. Syrian refugees are
fleeing civil war, for example, while European Jews
were seeking refuge from a fascist regime.
Furthermore, the small number of Syrian refugees
accepted by Britain must be considered alongside
Britains financial contribution to the crisis, second
only to the United States, and the British governments

...a new
sense of

Kindertransport Memorial in front of Bahnhof

Friedrichstrasse, Berlin

key diplomatic role in seeking an end to the conflict.

Yet the policy on Syrian refugees is not the only
immigration policy that clashes with the oft-invoked
image of a liberal, just and tolerant Britain. Thousands
of foreign-born people are currently held in British
detention centres, often without warning and without
trial. And the UK is the only country in Europe to
impose no time limit on the detention of immigrants.
The current policies on Syrian refugees and the
detention of immigrants as well as Conservative
pledges to reduce net migration below 100,000 and
the rise of the UK Independence Party all signify and
encourage anti-immigrant feeling in the supposed
quest for a stronger British identity.
Yet in our bid to strengthen that identity by reducing
immigration in all its forms, we are contradicting and
weakening the image of liberal, tolerant Britain that
inspired thousands of British families, to welcome
a Jewish child into their home, an image that is
apparently still desired today.
We need to find an idea of Britishness that
acknowledges complexities and banishes the hypocrisy
that all too often exists between enlightened rhetoric
and illiberal immigration policies.

Access to language opened the

door to social activities and I got to
know London more. Days started to go
by quickly, filled with writing letters and
searching for jobs.
In my third year, the difficulties
started to decrease and I became more
independent. My English improved and
I understood the legal system better. I
almost felt like a native.
Every day I tried to learn a new
I discovered Migrant Voice,
which helps and connects people in
my situation and holds free training
Many people have misconceptions
about life in Europe. For the refugee,

Judith Vonberg

getting to Europe is seen as

synonymous with getting to
Paradise, a place to enjoy permanent
But life in Europe is often hard.
Finding work requires experience and
dedication. Learning English is not
enough to make your dreams come
true and refugees often talk about
their shock on discovering the reality
of their new country.
The deteriorating situation
in my country forced me to leave,
but in Great Britain Ive found a
country in which Ive integrated and
where Ive discovered a new sense of
personal freedom. This is my
true country.




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why do they Come?

Ghaiath Hussein believes Britons
who fear migrants only come here
for money might be surprised to
discover they have much more
positive reasons
Abdo is a Syrian-born IT specialist
with Belgian citizenship who works in
You are lucky to be in the UK,
he tells me, adding that Muslims
elsewhere in Europe often face
difficulties practising their beliefs.
Examples from the EU include
restricting the building of minarets
for mosques, banning women from
covering their heads, and making it
difficult to buy halal meat.
None of this is faced by the
people living in the UK of any faith,
he says. You are in a country where
peoples rights are respected. If you
ask for a prayer break, you may be
given it.
It is not only British tolerance
towards religious belief that migrants
appreciate. I remember meeting Ade,
a fellow African who fled his wartorn country with his family for the
Netherlands where he completed an
While glad of that opportunity
he says he will remain nothing
but a colour to them, referring to
bosses who refused to hire him. I
am sure that this would not be their
attitude if my name was Charles
or John.
He has since moved from Holland
to the UK. Ade finds the UK is much
more welcoming of diversity and
allows people to succeed. After years
in Holland, he had never felt able to
get a good job or be accepted. In the
UK he found it much easier to excel
in his field.
Many politicians portray
immigration as an economic
burden. I do not. People like Abdo
are already living in EU countries
where they can get paid wages at
least comparable to those in the UK
and often higher.
For instance, the minimum hourly
rate in Germany is about 8. In
Netherlands for those over 21 years
the daily rate is just over 50, while
in Belgium the minimum monthly
payment is over 1,000.
The national minimum wage in the
UK is 6.50 an hour, rising to 6.70 In
October. But where I live, people are
paid as little as 3 an hour.
It is British tolerance and respect
for others that makes talented
people already living in good living
conditions consider coming to live
and work in the UK.
Given the opportunity, these
migrants will not prove a burden
but a real benefit to the British
economy and, perhaps more
importantly, to the British heritage.

Fleeing from dange r and into peril


UNHCR/ A. dAMATO june 2014

he number of refugees from

war or persecution now exceeds
50 million for the first time
since World War Two, according to the
UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
Developing countries host over 86
per cent of the worlds refugees, while
wealthier countries host only14 per
While it is legal to travel to another
country to seek asylum, in practice
legal routes are rarely available.
Many of the refugees who make it
to the West travel perilous journeys,
spending months, sometimes years,
to make it to safety. Thousands do
not make it.
One area where the death toll has
been rising is the Mediterranean
where UNHCR says 3,419 drowned
in 2014.
Italy was a main arrival point,
with Syrians and Eritreans making
the largest groups. They journey
from Syria, where conflict has forced
3.9 million people to flee, and from
Eritrea, where human rights abuses,
forced labour and indefinite military
service are leading to thousands of
young Eritreans leaving.
Here are two such journeys.

George Tah Meh reports on an

ambitious journey from Congo to Govan

Migrants resued at sea,

the single men sleep in one
section of the ship. There
were 820 men on that ship
alone with thousands of
others rescued by different
vessels of the Mare
Nostrum operation over the
same night

fleeing syria
a life turned upside down
Angelina is a 37-year-old Syrian mother with three
children who lived with her family in Damascus.
Her life was turned upside down when her husband
went missing, the civil war escalated and Angelina
felt she had to seek safety for her children.
She had only enough money to fund her journey
for herself and her four-year-old son. She left the
other children with her cousin in the hope that
they would join her later.
She made her way to Lebanon, where she
caught a boat to the Turkish town of Mersin.
Unable to find a boat to Italy she got to Istanbul,
spent a week in Aksaray Square and met an Arab
agent, or smuggler, Nimr (Tiger), who offered
to take her to Greece. This attempt proved
unsuccessful so she had to find another helper.
After two more unsuccessful attempts she and
48 other Syrians crammed into a rubber boat
arrived in Greece. They were detained for four days
before being moved to a refugee camp for 10 days,
and then to another camp in Athens.
Angelina looked for smugglers to help her get to
another European country, but negotiations were
complicated because the smugglers wanted to
transport her son separately, which she of course
Finally, another smuggler drove them to Bulgaria.
Arriving at midnight, she had to scramble over
barbed wire to cross to Romania. Bleeding, and
with a flat cellphone battery, she was cold, hungry

lives his video

fleeing eritrea
abdel rahim ALI tells his story
and in pain, alone with her son, in the open. That
day she wished she had died.
At 7am she found a hotel and contacted the
smuggler who returned to take them through
Romania to the border with Hungary. The smuggler
instructed her to wait until it got dark and then
walk across the border. She did, but was arrested.
The police took them to a refugee camp and took
their passports. Next morning the police booked
them train tickets to a refugee camp in Budapest.
Instead, Angelina contacted the smuggler
again. He picked them up and drove them to the
Netherlands. She applied for asylum as her brother
and a cousin were living there in another camp.
She felt safe and wanted to end her journey
there and start building her life - but was raped
in the camp in front of her son. This horrific
experience messed up her life again. She felt
she could not report the rape for fear that if her
relatives found out they would kill her for bringing
shame on the family.
She fled the camp and contacted the smuggler
again. He drove her and her son to Calais.
A family saw her sleeping rough with her son
and offered them shelter and food for five weeks.
She travelled from Calais in a refrigerated food
truck, arriving in the UK.
Her 3,764 kilometre journey from Damascus to
London had taken five months.
Necola Moussa

I am 29 years old. I fled Eritrea after

a jail sentence for leaving my military
service. My journey to the UK took six
months and cost $4,500.
I first went to Sudan. The really
difficult journey started when I left
Sudan with a group of traffickers.
We started in a lorry from Khartoum.
We were 150 people. The Sudanese
traffickers took us into the Sahara
desert. It took six-to-seven days, far
longer than we had been told. Our
food and drink ran out after three
days. We asked the traffickers for
more, but they refused. They wanted
to use all the space to fit in more
Some people started drinking their
own urine. People were worried that
they were close to death. Somehow
most of us made it. The traffickers left
us in the desert and we were picked
up by Libyan traffickers.
In Libya we were held in a big
building for two months, at least
1,000 of us. We were given bread and
water once a day. Anyone who tried
to leave the building was shot. Some
women were raped by the guards.
Eventually we were taken to a small

seven years
service I
take it any

inflatable boat. It sank quickly and we

were picked up by the Libyans. They
took money and made us stay a week in
Libya before telling us go our own way.
There was fighting in Libya and no
way to go to Sudan again or back
to Eritrea. I knew I might die on the
journey, but I had to take the chance on
another boat. There were 500 people,
but only 14 gallons of water which we
kept for the 60 or 70 women and no
food for the three-day voyage. Some
people tried to drink sea water. I cant
talk about it. It was too awful.
The boats engine failed, but we were
picked up by the Italian coast guard. I
stayed on the streets for three months,
because I didnt want to give my
fingerprints. Then I managed to go to
France by train. When I saw the living
conditions in Calais I asked why people
dont apply for asylum in France. I
was told that it took months to get an
appointment to make a claim and you
end up living on the street, so it was
better to try to go to the UK.
I ask your help to get the information
out. We need to change the
government in Eritrea. We need to be
able to go back to our homeland.

Schoolboy Etienne Kubwabo (below)

used to ask his sister to read out the
news from a makeshift set so he could
pretend to be a TV cameraman. Now,
five years after leaving the war-torn
Democratic Republic of Congo, he runs
a successful video production company
in Scotland.
In his Govan office he says: I always
wanted to work in TV production but
my mum didnt like the idea because she
wanted me to do accounting.
So when I came across a brochure for
Clydebank College offering courses in
TV production, I immediately went for it.
During college I realised that if I
wanted to achieve this dream I would
need to work extra hard.
I wanted to make sure I achieved that
childhood dream of me filming my sister
reading the news.
I started borrowing equipment from
the college just to be practising. I also
took some voluntary work to get as
much experience as possible.
It was when he was filming whatever
he could that he met Seejay, a migrant
from Nigeria. He wanted to make a
film, too, and the pair started working
together. Today they are business
I didnt know I was in business until
one of my lecturers encouraged me to
enter a music video I had shot into a
college-wide competition in Scotland.
It won best video in the Creative Loop
After getting recognition there I
thought I might as well just set up a
video production business. I asked
for advice from community support
organisations and was given the best
guidance on setting up my business by
the Council for Ethnic Minority Volunteer
Organisation here in Scotland.
They were very helpful and provided
me with the opportunity to learn more
about setting up a business, with great
information, knowledge and support.
I was frightened of the prospect
of starting my own business but I just
wanted to make something of my own.



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Ahmed wants
his family and
friends to
share his taste
of freedom

Give us their
daily bread

From rationing
to superfoods:
changing tastes
ed reeve

Ahmed tells Jamie Shin about his

fondness for chelo kabab, one of
Irans favourite dishes

Belle Epoque

rits love their bread and cakes

as was proved when the Great
British Bake Off final drew a larger
audience than BBC Ones broadcast of the
World Cup final in the summer.
And the taste for baked products hasnt
been hit too hard by the recession: While
consumers have been trading down in
many areas of their lives of late, it seems
the bake-off breads market has been
protected by a layer of recession-proof
crust, said British Baker magazine.
The Flour Advisory Bureau says that 99
per cent of households buy bread and that
the equivalent of nearly 12 million loaves
are sold each day.
White bread accounts for three-quarters
of the bread sold in Britain, but theres
growing demand fuelled by the eyeopening results of travel and a richly
diverse multicultural community for
speciality breads, as well as baked delights
from all over the world.
Another influence has been bakers from
abroad who set up shop here. Here we talk
to some of the migrant bakers who have
made their mark catering both for fellow
expatriates and worldly-wise Brits.
Belle Epoque, Newington Green,
London, N16, Upper Street N1
Eric Rousseaus mouthwatering patisseries
helped transform the run-down area of
north London when he and wife Hulya set
up shop 15 years ago, with a windowless
basement kitchen they called the cave:
there were nine break-ins to in their
first year and one night at 2am he found

Face to
face with a
thief trying
to carry off
the till

himself face-to-face with a thief trying to

carry off the till.
Neighbours thought he was a crazy
Frenchman toiling all hours in his
cramped underground kitchen, but a
passion for patisserie, years of training
and experience, ambition, a tough-love
reputation among staff and changing
public tastes have paid off and the venture
now has a 10,000 square foot kitchen,
employs 25 people, including 10 pastry
chefs and three bakers, and supplies
Selfridges cafes and restaurants.
His path to England was perhaps set
early in his career: having left school at
14 he was told in his first job that English
was necessary for a pastry chef as it was an
international business in which he would
be working with workers from all over the
world (That wasnt such bad advice).
His subsequent career took him to
Indonesia, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Hong
Kong, Namibia and a cruise ship job where
he learned to make 600 desserts at a time.
His travels were more than matched by his
wife, to whom he introduced himself in
a Chinese restaurant after overhearing
her talking about cycling alone from Cape
to Cairo.
Rousseaus business was among
Londons first artisan patisseries, away
from the nightmare red tape of France.
He is a stickler for quality (he insists on
using flour and milk from Normandys
Isigny region, Valrhona chocolate from
France and matcha powder from Japan)
but is happy to make adaptations to the
local palate. So his croissants and bread are

Gomez and his wife

Golden Gate cake shop

recognisably Parisian but he also offers a

slightly softer, less crusty, bread for English
Tastes here have changed, he notes and
so have habits (We tweet about a new
batch of croissants, still warm, about to
come into the store). Despite changes in
the last 15 years, the English palate is a
little less adventurous than the French,
he says, but people have more spending
power, are tired of the big retailers and
prepared to pay a little more for top quality
food, with no additives they are more
health conscious. And yes, that means a
little less sugar.

Bageriet, Rose Street, London

A Swedish bakery set up by Daniel
Karlsson, whose passion for baking was
inspired by his mother and grandmother,
whose biscuit recipe he still uses.
He says he came to London curious
about British culture. His shop is popular
among those who crave Swedish semlor,
the Smrgstrtor sandwich cakes, or their
self-proclaimed best tasting cinnamon
buns in London.

Lisboa Patisserie,
Golborne Road, London W10
When this no-frills, family-run, sevendays-a-week bakery opened in 1983, recalls
owner Carlos Gomez, I could not sell even
a coffee or a cake to an English person.
We would stand outside the shop and
say, Come, come, pay for the coffee and we
will give you a cake.
Only Portuguese and Spaniards bought
the cakes. Now, we sell more to the
The star turn from the nine-person
baking staff are the famous pastis de nata
(egg tarts: they sell 9,500 a week and
typically sell out by mid-day).
The secret, according to Gomez, is
the puff pastry: When you put it in the
mouth, its not the creamthe cream is
sugar, its sweetits the pastry that is so
crisp that you remember. When you put it
in the mouth, it cracks, its so fine. Thats
the difference.
Maroush Bakehouse, Earls Court
Road, London SW5
Owner Marouf Abouzaki and his wife
moved from Lebanon to London over 30
years ago, leaving a war-torn country and
their family and friends.
Their thriving business has more than
16 restaurants and cafes and now a bakery
that produces more than 25 varieties of
bread. They pride themselves on their
authentic Lebanese pastries and the
traditional khobez (pita bread), which
Maroush says is at the heart of every
Lebanese meal - and you can watch it being
made through a glass window.

The secret
is in the puff

Golden Gate Cake Shop,

Macclesfield Street, London W1
This Chinatown store boasts a window
display of cakes of all shapes and colours,
decorated with fruit, chocolate and other
confectionery. But the most popular item
is the char siu buna savoury, bread-like
treat filled with barbecued roast pork,
baked rather than steamed as is traditional.
Legend has it that a French customer
came in one day, tried a pork bun and loved
it so much that he filled a suitcase with
them and flew them back to enjoy at home.
Try it for yourself: pick up a tray and
tongs and grab as many pork, lotus, and
red bean buns and rolls as you can. But
remember, its cash only.
Jamie Shin

Something Strong is Brewing

The explosion in the number of UK microbreweries over
the last decade is in large part due to the involvement of
migrants in the industry.
The Beavertown Brewery in
north London is just one example.
Under the leadership of Jenn
Merrick (right), a head brewer
from America, it boasts a diverse
workforce of Irish and Australian
heritage, as well as a New
Zealander, a Canadian, a Korean, a Finn and one Brazilian.
Merrick has a long track record of making beer in the UK.
She says that of the four breweries shes worked in, migrant
workers are more common than not. Being a woman and
head brewer is more unusual, she says.
Merrick attributes the number of migrants in beer-making
to the sharing of ideas and techniques that is necessary in
this fast-evolving industry. Innovation, collaboration and
learning from other countries brewing experience are
important in the making of new and interesting beers.
There is a shortage of certain types of specialist brewers
in the UK, with knowledge of techniques used in other
countries. Often it is almost impossible to get a visa.
Jason Bergen

oreign food influences in Britain can

be seen throughout history, and were
given a boost when foreign flavours were
literally brought home by the Empirebuilders. But it was in the years after the
Second World War that international
influences on food really began to bite.
As the economy strengthened after the
post-war austerity, Britons began to travel
and migrants helped: from the 1960s
migrants changed the countrys culinary
taste forever with their cooking skills and
new ingredients.
Food from South and East Asia
became popular in the late 1970s
as migrants settled in
areas such as Londons
currylicious Brick Lane.
In recent years one
foreign food trend
after another has
swept the shelves
and kitchens. Some
have become British
staples, like hummus,
on which Britain spends
more than 60 million a year.
Every year a new fad arrives whether
kiwi fruit or tiramisu. Last year Peruvian
restaurants began to proliferate.
Migrant Voice asked celebrity chef Ken
Hom about the trends for 2015. Credited
as teaching the British how to love
Chinese food, the Chinese-American chef
says, I believe the three key ingredients
to Asian cuisine - garlic, ginger and spring
onions - will continue to become more and
more popular, he says. I also think that
shrimp paste, miso, fish sauce, sake and
chilli will find a more prominent place in
world-wide cuisine.
Food from Lithuania and other Baltic
states are on the rise, as is South African
cuisine in the form of dishes such as
bobotie, bunny chow and melktert.
Miriam Nice, assistant editor of The BBC
Good Food magazine, told Migrant Voice,
Were watching out for more food trends
from Canada and the US this year and our
love of Korean food shows no sign of going
away. But, with every rich and indulgent
offering, a healthy, clean-eating alternative
pops up to balance it out.
The African fruit baobab has also been
tipped as the next superfood fad.
Like all previous superfoods, you wonder
how you survived without it.
wendy www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

helo kabab is the national dish of Iran,

traditionally composed of saffron rice,
lamb kabab, tomatoes, some butter and
maybe an egg. Its simple, but packed with
The rice is rinsed several times and
cooked in salt water. The addition of saffron
and butter makes it truly extraordinary.
To create the kabab, a good cut of lamb
spotted with fat is minced twice to create
an even consistency. But the secret is the
addition of minced onions thoroughly
drained to prevent the mixture becoming
too moist. The meat is generously
seasoned with a fragrant mixture of
saffron, salt, black pepper and, optionally,
sumac, paprika and turmeric.
The kabab is formed on a long, flat
skewer before grilling over a charcoal fire.
Finally, the addition of roasted whole
tomatoes, butter and the yolk of an egg
though no longer common completes
this classic Persian dish.
For Ahmed, an Iranian asylum-seeker
currently living in London, chelo kabab
carries the special significance of home.
Ahmed came to the UK in 2008 after
escaping from an Iranian prison to which
he had been sentenced for treason.
He travelled on the back of a lorry for
three weeks, his only hope for survival in
the hands of smugglers. He did not know
where he was going or if he would ever see
his family and friends again.
As a lover of food and good company,
Ahmed frequently hosted dinner parties
and cooked his favourite Persian dishes
for his wife and son. But when the state
became suspicious of his anti-government
sentiments, he was promptly arrested and
In his journey to freedom he remained
confined to a small dark space in the
back of a lorry surviving only on mouldy
bread, hard cheese, dates and water. Many
times he cried as he ate his dry bread,
remembering his good life back in Iran.
Now when I eat cheese and bread, it
reminds me of that time the dark place,
the cold. But back then...when you dont
have anything else, it looks so delicious. Its
like a slice of pizza.



Olivia Blair




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Migration and the

economy: the evidence
Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and
Social Research argues for a positive approach to migration

mmigrants pay their way, and they

boost growth. Thats not exactly
news to anybodys whos been paying
attention. Nevertheless, its good that
the media highlighted the fact that the
main reason the independent Office for
Budget Responsibility revised up the UKs
growth prospects slightly was the fact that
migration is now expected to be somewhat
higher than their previous forecast.
The Prime Ministers pledge to reduce
immigration to the tens of thousands
was always only going to be achieved at
a significant economic cost. Its demise
is, correspondingly, good news for the
But in some sense discussing the shortterm economic impacts misses the point.
The basic facts are well known and fairly
obvious. Of course young immigrants who
mostly have jobs boost growth and pay
in more than they get out. The counterargument to this is that these benefits may
only be small and temporary. The direct
impact on overall prosperity incomes
per head may be small, and immigrants
get old too.
However, this is a static view of the
world: it does not reflect how economies
actually work, or where growth really

comes from.
Immigrants dont just fill specific shortterm gaps in the labour market. They
can bring different skills and aptitudes,
and transmit those to non-immigrant
colleagues (and vice versa); they can
increase competition in particular labour
markets, increasing the incentive for
natives to acquire certain skills. Immigrant
entrepreneurs can increase competition in
product markets. And workplace diversity
across a number of dimensions can
increase (or decrease) productivity and
Of course, not all of these impacts are
necessarily positive. For example, it is well
known that immigrants are substantially
more likely to be entrepreneurs or selfemployed. This could be because they
are self-selected, so enterprising people
are more likely to migrate; but exclusion
or discrimination might also force some
migrants into low-productivity selfemployment.
So what does the evidence say?
Well, in contrast to the well-established
economic literature on the impact of
migration on labour markets, we have
much less research on these topics. But it
does seem that immigration is associated

william warby

is central to
our growth

with increased innovation. Our research

for the Migration Advisory Committee
found that rather than migrants
substituting for home-grown talent, there
is evidence of complementarities between
skilled migrants and skilled resident
We still do not know precisely the
channels through which immigration
impacts on growth. Nor will we ever be
able to put precise numbers on it, any more
than we can identify the contribution of
Britains history as a trading nation to
our current prosperity. But we do know
enough to set a clear direction for policy.
What should we do? The first priority for
politicians of all parties should be simply to
make clear that immigration, like trade, is
indeed central to making the UK open for
business, and hence to our growth strategy.
The next step would be then to examine
each aspect of immigration policy but
in particular those relating to students,
skilled workers, and settlement with a
view towards reorienting them towards
growth. Sadly, that is not what any of the
party leaders are offering.
Instead, they seem to be engaged in
a rather degrading contest to think up
relatively minor and probably ineffective
tweaks to eligibility for benefits or services,
in turn designed to address what they all
privately know full well to be relatively
minor problems.
There are many specific policy changes,
major and minor, that are required. But
in my view, more important is a change
of attitude and mindset on the part of
government and policymakers. If we want
to be serious about growth, we will need to
be positive about migration.

Entrepreneurs in good company

ne in seven British companies was

founded or co-founded by migrants,
according to #MigrantsContribute, a
grassroots campaign led by a coalition of
67 migrant-led organisations.
The campaign aims to demonstrate the
positive contribution that migrants make
to British life.
The campaign also points to recent
studies highlighting the fiscal contribution
made by migrants to the UK economy. In
the last year it says that has brought an
estimated 6.8 billion in qualified skills and
education from their home countries into
the job market.
Migrants have notched up an impressive
number of business success stories, such as
Kingfisher and EasyJet. They range from
Ronny Gottschlich, managing director of
the British operations of Lidl - the chain
betting to become Europes leading grocery

He spotted
a gap
in the

retailer to Rafi Akbar, originally from

Bangladesh and now the owner of a small
Internet company.
Gottschlich has helped guide Lidl to
prominence in a highly competitive market
and last year said that the supermarket
chain planned to attract customers by
offering more British products.
It also plans to build a huge distribution
centre and to buy more from fewer
companies, which may result in less
variation in products but the ability or the
company to negotiate better prices through
bulk purchase.
Gottschlich, who has been called the
king of low-cost shopping, has worked
for Lidl as national audit manager,
regional director, operations director and
promotional activity director.
Akbar may be operating on a smaller
scale but like Gottschlich has worked hard:

he went through a series of sales related

roles - from door-to-door, call centre,
customer service and eventually selling
software as a service. He is a business
mentor for the Princes Trust (a youth
charity that helps change young lives).
He spotted a gap in the market, which is
that people often have an idea for a blog or
a website but lack the technical know-how
to proceed. They seek help, which usually
means paying someone to build a website,
and, in the process, lack control.
They also spend more due to lack of
knowledge of website project development.
I was in the same situation once and
wished someone was out there to teach me
how to build my site and manage it. This is
the service Luckywebs provides.
Two men, different backgrounds,
different skills, but both contributing, like
millions of other migrants, to the economy.

The child migrants following in

Paddingtons pawprints
Are migrants stories
covered in childrens books,
wonders Allison McLellan

migrant has been a childrens

favourite for four decades. After
an earthquake destroyed his home
in Peru, Paddington Bear came to the UK
and was adopted into the Brown family. He
had to learn the language and adapt to the
culture of his new home.
Recently a hit film gave the lovable
characters popularity an extra boost. But
what are the new stories about migration
being told to children?
Writer Michael Morpurgo is best known
for War Horse, but his book Shadow,
winner of the 2011 Red House childrens
book award, is about a boy, Aman, and his
mother fleeing Afghanistan, only to be held
at a checkpoint and then imprisoned at a
detention centre as they attempt to start a
new life in England.
Migration comes into another of his
books, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea, based on
the true story of orphans shipped from
Britain to Australia after World War II.
One of the great nonsenses is that we
imagine that children cant cope with and
dont want to face the difficulties of this life
and this world, explains Morpurgo.
They see and learn very young now that
the world is not an easy place, not a funny
place and not always a happy place, but
a place where we have to confront great
difficulty and overcome it.
It seems to me that, books not
all, but some books should be part
of this growing process, a pathway
to understanding and a pathway to
discovery, even if the truths discovered are
sometimes uncomfortable.
Sometimes children tell their migration
stories themselves.
In Anthony Robinsons four-book series,
Refugee Diaries, for example, migrants
from various troubled countries share their
journeys towards asylum in the UK in their
own words. The books received praise from
schools and in the press. The first of the
quartet was included in an Outstanding
International Books list and won a
Scholastic Best Books of the Year award.
One child reader told Robinson, The
stories made me change my point of view
about refugees and I hope I can help adults
and kids respect them.


Such empathy may be the biggest benefit

of exposing children to migration through
literature. As Morpurgo says, The most
vulnerable people are those who have
for whatever reason no home they can
feel safe in, no family to look after them,
nowhere to hide. These are people in the
most need, so often the collateral damage
of war, and it seems to me that those of us
lucky enough to live in a stable, peaceful
country should hold out the hand of
friendship, support and protection to those
who do not.
Many younger readers have also
enjoyed The Colour of Home by Mary
Hoffman and Christophes Story by Nicki
Cornwell, in which fictional children
share their stories about leaving war-torn
countries. Vibrant, colourful illustrations
help draw readers in.

The world
is not an
easy place

Not surprisingly, since the United States

is a country of immigration, it has more
of a tradition of childrens books about
migration than the UK.
Most books featuring the topic
in the UK are adventures of flight
from desperate situations rather than
more reflective accounts of accompanying
parents to a new house and a new job,
like Simone T. Costa Erikssons The
Mission of Detective Mike: Moving
Abroad, a playful story in which young
Mike deals with the fears and pressures of
learning his family is moving to another
Another example is Sarah Crossans
multiple award-winning young adult novel,
The Weight of Water, a coming-ofage story about a Polish girl adjusting to
life in England and finding her first love.




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The cultural mongrel who

won a Queens Gold Medal
mtiaz Dharker is a Pakistan-born
British poet, artist and documentary
filmmaker who was born in Lahore in
1954, grew up in Glasgow as what she calls
a Muslim Calvinist before eloping with an
Indian Hindu to live in Mumbai, and later
moved to Britain when she married the late
Simon Powell, the founder of Poetry Live!.
She won the Queens gold medal for her
English poetry last year, her poems are
on the English syllabus, and she reads at
Poetry Live! events all over the country to
more than 25,000 students a year.
She has had 10 solo exhibitions of
drawings in the UK, Hong Kong, India, and
the US, and scripts and directs films, many
for non-governmental organisations.
What made you take the leap to being a
professional poet?
I didnt really know I was making that leap
at first.
When I started writing poems for
myself, as a young person, it would have
felt presumptuous to call myself a poet.
It took a long stretch of writing, being
published, before I could wear the word,
and before it actually seemed to fit.

ayesha dharker taylor

Imtiaz Dharker

Poets are
great eavesdroppers

What is your writing process like?

Poets are great eavesdroppers. What I
really think I do is eavesdrop on the world.
Radek Slomnicki 2012

all photos: scotland migations and participants

Youve lived in a variety of places from

Pakistan to the UK and India. Can you
tell me about your journey through these
I didnt really live in Pakistan because I
left when I was only six months old. But
I grew up in Glasgow listening to ghazals
on a Grundig tape-recorder every Sunday.
My parents would recite Urdu poetry by
Faiz and Ghalib, and listen to Indian film
songs from the 40s. At the same time they
believed in being part of Scottish life and
were very active in the community. My
maiden name was Mobarik, and we called
ourselves the Clan McBarik!
I met my first husband when I was only
17, and went to India, to Bombay where
he lived. Bombay was kind to me, and
taught me almost everything I know. It
was there that I began to write poetry
and be published, as well as draw, have
exhibitions, get involved with television
and make audio-visuals and video films.

The whole media scene was booming and

it was a time when everything seemed
possible. India, life in India, was also a
daily inspiration, a place that puts you
off-balance, and that allows you to take
nothing for granted.
But all of us are crossing borderlines
now, living culturally diverse lives.
Some may shuttle more than others
geographically, but everyone is exposed,
the outside has arrived with all its baggage
to live with us, the TV has settled like a
squatter in our living space, twitter is just
another village well. The whole world is our
neighbourhood and that is a reality we all
live with.
I have always seen it as a position
of strength, to be able to live between
countries and cultures: not a lost identity,
but a multiplied one.

Have the different places you have lived

influenced your work?
Every place I have lived in has influenced
my work.
I call myself a cultural mongrel. I want
my poems to live between borders, outside
borderlines. They need to be out in the
world. Wherever you are born or live, your
identity is always travelling. I am changed
every day by things I see or what I read
or hear.

Putting migrants in the picture

LILI sandelin

Poems come from being involved with

living and for me a line of a poem, or the
idea for a poem can come unexpectedly, at
any time, on the street, in a railway station,
in conversations walking by. You have to
catch the line while its still live, and if you
are lucky, with craft and ruthless editing, it
may turn into a poem.

2015 Guy Corbishley

cotland has profited from sending Scots abroad

to make fortunes in other peoples lands, says the
creator of a unique archive of migrants photographs.
That makes it particularly important that the lack
of public recognition of the experiences of incoming
migrants is rectified, says Deidre MacKenna.
And thats why her archive is about people who have
chosen Scotland as their new home.
I wanted to create an open platform [of] the people
and places that make up our society and by doing so,
contribute to a well-balanced representation of the
multi-cultural nature of Scotland, she explains.
The photos in the archive date back to the 1840s
when photography was invented.
Migrants used photography for all the same reasons
as everyone else, she says, but to the immigrant, the
image has more significance, demonstrating well-being
and evidence of achievement.
In the past these images were often made with a
calendar or newspaper included to verify the date the
person was photographed. Today social media is used
in a similar way.

Putting the incredible on stage

henever members of the amateur

Ukrainian group Molodyi Teatr
London (Young Theatre) talk about their
experiences as migrants, colleagues will
exclaim Thats incredible!
If they tell people outside the group, the
response is often: You should write that
So they did. The result is Bloody
East Europeans, an English-language play
that offers an irreverent and satirical take
on the lives of East Europeans in the UK.
One of the writers, Uillem Blacker,
a lecturer in East European culture at
University College London, says there are
few positive voices on immigration today,
and the group hopes to bring some light-

We are
all just the
same, were
just like you

heartedness by making it funny!

One of the performers, Lilya
Romanyshyn, points out that while it
might seem that some Ukrainians are
putting on a grotesque comedy for a few
laughs, in fact they are highlighting the
almost tragic reality of it all.
She says the show tells about ourselves,
our stories, who are East Europeans and
what kind of people we are.
Lesya Liskevych, who came to England
in 2003 as a student and now works as
an analyst in banking, agrees: A lot of
people have a different perception of
immigrants. The play shows that were
normal people, just looking for a better life.
We are all just the same; were just like you,

and want to live.

Another writer, Olesya Khromeychuk,
who also moved here from Ukraine, in
2000, and is a UCL lecturer in Eastern
European history at UCL, says the play
attempts to ridicule how East Europeans
are often lumped together into one
community. But it does matter where one
comes from, she stresses.
A member of the audience told her that
his experiences as an immigrant in Britain
were exactly that what you showed on
The group formed in 2010 by both
Ukrainians and non-Ukrainaians plans
to take the production to the Edinburgh
Festival in August.
As well as creating entertainment and
offering insight, Molodyi Teatr tries to
create what any immigrant in the UK
needs: community.
Yaroslav Tsyhan, a Ukrainian who has
worked as a house painter in Britain for
nearly two years, recalls that it was very
difficult when I had just arrived. I didnt
understand or speak much English, I didnt
know anyone. The first six weeks I changed
jobs four times
He heard about the theatre, attended a
rehearsal and joined the group: This was
very important, looking at an audience and
being on stage. The theatre means a lot to
me and here I feel at home.
The most interesting thing for me are
the people I meet. British people are very
kind, always prepared to help. I have loved
this country and its people.
More information: www.molodyiteatr.
Dmitri Macmillen

The British front room and the migrants suitcase

bill brady 1940

MacKenna is now fundraising to develop the project

further. Her aim is to travel throughout Scotland to
collect stories and photos and expand the website.
The project has an initial 20-year development
period to enable us to see what the archive produces
from more than one generation, she says. From there
we can work towards it becoming a national resource.
Mlanie Brard

or one Birmingham-based migrant, life

doesnt so much imitate art as prove
inseparable from it.
Malgorzata Adamowska, who moved to
the UK in 2004, never planned to come to
England: But sometimes life writes itself,
she says.
Her latest project , The Front Room, was
recently exhibited in Birminghams Ort
The idea for the work came from a very
domestic concept she observed in almost
every migrants UK home.
The front room is a very British thing,
she explains. Im Polish we dont have
front rooms with an obligatory sofa, a
television set, a fireplace and so on. Where
I come from people usually gather around
the table.
Adamowska seized on the idea of the
front room to explore migrants willingness
and ability to keep hold of their own

heritage after observing that most

will replicate the British front room
in their homes on moving to the
The idea was a way for her to look at
what she calls the heritage suitcase: the
items that migrants bring with them from
their mother country, not to decorate the
mantelpiece but as a way of holding on to
whats important.
She recreated an installation of a
front room, filling it with items a migrant
might store in their heritage suitcase.
At first it looked like a normal front
room, where you could come and sit down
on a sofa or in an armchair. It had
a television set, wallpaper it looked like
an average British home, but there were
also many more elements that werent
visible immediately, says Adamowska.
Her front room was lit by a normal
bulb, so people would come and sit down

You belong to

for coffee, but then the light would

change, revealing traditional images from
other cultural groups, like Polish dancers
and Indian elephants.
You could only glimpse them in the
darkness for about ten seconds, and then
you would have 30 seconds of so-called
normal reality, and then those ten seconds
Migration and multicultural Britain
are recurring themes for Adamowska.
Many people decide they dont want to be
recognised as, in my case, a Polish person.
Others are longing for their culture for
safety or acceptance reasons.
But I have realised that I am Polish, and
that Im actually much more Polish than
I ever was. You find out that you actually
belong to something in this whole massive
melting pot of different cultures living
Anna Kolosowska



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Should we call it the International

Health Service?
Our NHS has always
depended on overseas staff
and still does

ealthcare and immigration are key

general election issues but rarely
are the two brought together as a
practical question who cares for us when
we are sick?
The obvious answer to that since the
formation of the National Health Service in
1948 has been doctors, nurses, ambulance
drivers, radiographers and all the others
with the necessary skills and devotion to
keep us well.
But the next question where have they
come from? is one politicians have often
been reluctant to answer, especially when
asking voters for their support at a time
when xenophobia is only a dog whistle
They will talk readily of their
commitment to the NHS and its future
funding, but less about where they will find
those whose hands will do the practical
Even a cursory glance at the history of
the NHS will tell us why: without migrants
the service would not have survived for the
past 67 years.
Dr Peter Carter, head of the Royal
College of Nursing (RCN), is clear: had
nurses and other workers not been
recruited from overseas, the NHS simply
could not have functioned.
The story of his RCN colleague, Cecilia
Amin, could almost be a microcosm of the
history of the NHS and its dependence on
those from overseas.
The woman who is now president of

Cecilia Amin:
Certificate of

are still
attracted to
work in the

Britains largest nursing organisation was a

midwife in Ghana before coming to the UK
to train as a nurse in 1977. She currently
works as a clinical nurse specialist in sexual
and reproductive health in London.
In the years since coming to this country
she has not only cared for the sick, but
has also made a major contribution
through the RCN to the wellbeing of those
employed in the NHS.
In recognition of Cecilias contribution,
she was awarded the RCN Certificate of
Merit for outstanding service to members.
A decade after Cecilia Amin arrived
from Ghana, Iraqi Dr Nofal Khalil came
to London to complete his training after
initial study in the United States.
Hes still here working as a consultant
neurophysiologist based at Hammersmith
Hospital, West London.
London is a wonderful multicultural
city, he says, and Im one of the many
people from all over the world delivering
healthcare in the United Kingdom.
Figures obtained last year by The
Guardian confirm the reliance by the NHS
and community health services in England
on foreign nationals, with people from
more than 200 countries employed.
The statistics, produced by the Health
and Social Care Information Centre
(HSCIC), show that 11 per cent of all staff
for whom data was available and who work
for the NHS and in community health
services are not British.
The proportion of foreign nationals
increases for professionally qualified
clinical staff (14 per cent) and even more so
for doctors (26 per cent).
The British Medical Association (BMA)
echoes the view of Dr Carter of the RCN

when it says that without the contribution

of non-British staff, many NHS services
would struggle to provide effective care to
their patients.
Tim Finch, from the Institute for
Public Policy Research thinktank, said the
statistics held lessons for immigration
People are still attracted to work in the
NHS, he says. Without them wed clearly
be short: it would be very hard to replace
that number overnight.
According to the HSCIC, European
Union countries, English-speaking
countries, those with ties to Britain
through the Commonwealth, countries
targeted by the NHS for employees and
those that have experienced wars all figure
prominently in the list of those supplying
the most employees.
India provided the highest number
after Britain, with 18,424 out of a total
of 1,052,404 workers whose identity was
India also provided the highest number
of professionally qualified clinical staff,
doctors and consultants after Britain.
The number of Indian consultants was
2,708, seven per cent of the total whose
nationality was known.
The highest number of qualified nursing,
midwifery and health visiting staff after
Britain came from the Phillipines, with
8,094 out of a total of 309,529 for whom
data was available. The Philippines also
provides the third highest number of NHS
staff overall with 12,744.
Ireland had the fourth highest number
of staff in the NHS, followed by Poland,
Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Portugal, Pakistan,
Spain and Germany.

Migrants feel well-integrated but worried

he overwhelming majority of UK migrants

believe they are inaccurately portrayed by
politicians and large sections of the mainstream
media, according to the latest research carried out
by Migrant Voice.
Less than 4 per cent of respondents to the
survey felt they were represented fairly and
accurately, and less than 7 per cent believed
migrants were depicted in a positive light in some
While most respondents felt they were wellintegrated into British society, just less than two
thirds (63 per cent) said the intense public debate
about immigration has had a direct impact on

community relations and their sense of belonging,

with many believing it had led to more racism and
A majority of migrants reported feeling used
by politicians for their own electoral gain. One
respondent commented: While I normally feel
perfectly integrated, the words used by some
politicians and sections of the media makes me feel
Other common themes expressed throughout
the research included:
[The] UK tabloid media compete with each other
for headlines. Most of those headlines are negative
things you only hear about the negative migrant.

How can you feel like you belong in a society that

makes it all too clear it hates you and wants you
It frustrates me when illegality and
terrorism creep into the debate as these issues
criminalise migrants in public perceptions.
I feel they are putting a mark on my face for not
being from here.
The research is based on evidence from 182
responses from migrants representing 43 countries
of origin. Most respondents had lived in the UK
for over three years, and almost half for more than
10 years.
Full report: www.migrantvoice.org



Britain adopted

New arrivals, old prejudices

Muriel Demarcus finds all-too familiar British
views about migrants when she dips into
newspapers from the days of Queen Victoria

pring-cleaning the attic I discovered a pile of old

newspapers left behind by the previous tenant
and probably by several previous ones, too, as the
earliest one was almost 150 years old.
Brushing the dust off five copies of the Illustrated
London News, I found myself in a time capsule
revealing snippets of life in the final three decades of
19th-century Britain. Intrigued, I started reading.
There were illustrations, hilarious ads and short
stories. But the funniest part was to compare the
stereotypes British readers held of other nationalities
during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Did you know, for example, that in 1889 the mother
of all fears was Asian immigration, especially from
If nothing is done, we will infallibly be filled up
in time by the Chinese, who, rightly or wrongly, are
objects of great dislike to men of European origins,
the paper warned.
Wow! Beware! It reminded me of headlines in the
1970s about the arrival of Asians, but this time from
Uganda under the regime of General Amin. I had done
a project about it and remembered a headline saying
No need to let them in.
I continued to read. Being French, I had missed the
fact that Irish racism was also widespread in the UK in
the 19th century. Some cartoons depicted Irishmen as
alcoholics. Apparently, they also monopolised certain
low-paying jobs.
Doesnt that remind you of recent press coverage of

Romanian and Bulgarian migrants in the UK?

The Illustrated London News main view of Africans at
the time was their indolence. This stereotype was used
both during and after slavery. After emancipation,
most planters blamed their labour predicament on the
idleness of newly freed blacks.
I couldnt help thinking that in 1898 the British were
a bit more honest about it: they plainly admitted that
they disliked the Chinese.
Nowadays, things are more subtle and the rhetoric
slightly different. It is all about I am not a racist, but...
and then you fill in the blank: They live on benefits.
They need to make an effort. They oversubscribe our
schools, and so on.
The stereotyping, of course, included that of my
fellow French. Our country topped the foreign news
in the frequency and length of coverage. At times it
seemed almost obsessive.
All the clichs were listed: we French ate frogs and
snails, and the only thing we were good at was cooking.
My favourite Illustrated London News extract, dated 24
October 1874, was: Take the tartlets a la Talleyrand,
for example. Well, did not the Queen of Hearts - that is
to say, France - make some tarts?
There was also a refreshing, politically incorrect
account of the progress of the Paris Exhibition: The
British section is well ahead amongst the foreign
departments, the United States, Russia, and Italy are
rather behindhand, and Spain is almost empty. You
have got to love British humility here.
The stereotypes stay the same but have been
directed at different people over the centuries. If we
French can survive historic stereotypes, why not all the
others arriving to start new lives in these islands?

n exhibition about migrants in

Britain which will run for five months
at Londons Southbank Centre will be
celebratory but wont shy away from
difficulties, says co-curator Almir Koldzic,
co-director of Counterpoint Arts, which
has helped stage Adopting Britain.
Its happening at a very important time:
the political background is the election, in
which migration features, he says.
The exhibition is part of the Centres
Changing Britain festival, which looks at 70
years of British society, culture and politics.
A Southbank spokesperson said the
migration exhibition highlights stories
tim smith
from British
campaigns in
the Caribbean
in the 1950s
to Indian
and Eastern
migration, and the contribution made to
the British economic and social landscape.
The aim, she added, is to highlight
personal stories of migrants and refugees,
celebrate the contribution of migrant
groups to the arts and open up discussion
around one of the most politically sensitive
and pertinent topics of this years election.
Adopting Britain is at the Southbank Centre,
17 April to 6 September 2015.

Humour born from anger and frustration


ajeela Kershi is a comedian, but her

show, Immigrant Diaries, was born
out of anger and frustration.
I got exasperated at reading and
watching the same old negative dialogue
about immigrants, she says.
Im an immigrant myself who is very
home counties, well-spoken, and Im
probably the only Asian woman who runs
a successful award-winning comedy club
in the heart of Surrey - Comedy Cottage
Redhill very, very British in many ways,
yet its never enough.
Im constantly made to feel like I dont
belong here, Im the outsider and that I
should go home. Im British and this IS
my home. Why do I always have to prove
Theres more (shes not short of words,
which is a help doing stand-up):
Whats so wrong with being a product
of two cultures? Culture is a moving thing
and, yes, immigrants do help change
British culture. Why does that have to be a

image creation Simon BennetT

I grew up wishing we could have fish

fingers and chips like my English friends as
no-one could stand the smell of curry. Now
curry is the national staple.
She sees the show - which will be
performed during the Changing Britain
festival at Londons Southbank Centre
in April as an antidote to the antiimmigration rhetoric.
Our strapline is Statistics dont tell the
story - people do. So comedians and others
tell true stories from their own lives. Its
the sharing of these very personal true
stories that connect us.
One of the guests for the Southbank
performance is Dave Cohen, best known in
the business for his work on the TV satire
programme, Spitting Image, with whom she
is setting up a charity, Jamjars, short for
Jews and Muslims Joined Against Racism.
Immigrant Diaries will be staged at the
Southbank Centre, London in April, and
along with her new stand-up show, Shallow
Halal, at the Brighton Festival in May and in
Edinburgh in August.




like us on facebook Migrant Voice

Migrants make a
name for themselves
jit Muttucumaraswamy calls
himself Ajit Muttu. He switched
because the average British person
was not used to long names. Two syllables
was the most they could manage.
Professionally, too, the change paid
off for the Sri Lankan accountant:
Employment was important. Long names
would put off some people.
This isnt just hearsay.
Liberian-born Max Kpakio was denied
an interview for a job at a Swansea call
centre but when he re-applied using the
name Craig Owen he was invited to an
interview for the same post.
For Shahid Iqbal, Changing name was
a case of opening the doors. He adopted
a British-sounding name and found
that vacancies hed previously been told
were filled were open. He now owns an
engineering company in Birmingham: I
approach my customers as Richard Brown
and quite a few have openly admitted that
if Id approached them as Shahid Iqbal, they
wouldnt have given us the opportunity.
Discrimination channelled through
un-British names was confirmed a few
years ago by a report commissioned by the
Department of Work and Pensions which
sent matching CVs to UK employers using
ethnic-sounding names and a conventional

British name, Alison Taylor. The most

successful applications were those signed
by Taylor.
Or take the case of Mahmoud Barreh.
He found that his posts under articles on
news websites were often excluded until
he used Michael as his first name. Then his
comments were included.
Historically, new names were sometimes
adopted or imposed by immigration
officials at the point of entry. Daniel
Nelson is a name that sounds as English
as a pub argument, which was why the
surname was adopted by his East European
Often newcomers adopt nicknames
because the natives experience difficulty
or unwillingness in pronouncing unusual
names correctly.
Not so many years ago, annoyance was
caused when a couple of British radio
commentators laughed on air about the
impossibility of the names of the Sri
Lankan cricket team.
That wouldnt happen today and not
only because the BBC pronunciation unit
would put them right. Jokes about the
foreignness of foreign names are still an
irritating part of office and caf banter (its
worth remembering that almost any joke
about a name will have been made scores

follow us @MigrantVoiceUK
of times already), but times are changing.
Thanks to the number of migrants, we
are more accustomed to funny names.
Two or three years ago Premiership
football crowds stumbled over the names
of players in their own team which they
were invited by the public address system
to shout out. Today we can all say with
aplomb the names of Italian, Turkish or
Nigerian players.
Maybe the natives are becoming
less insular, and perhaps the next
Muttucumaraswamy to arrive will be able
to stick to his real name.
Carla Gemma Calandra

name was
a case of
opening the

Some migrants
stick hard to
their names
Marzanna Antoniak of Glasgow
kept her birth name, which is
the Slavic Goddess of Winter or
Death. Although she suggests the
nickname Mana for those who
have difficulty with pronunciation,
many people do want to make
an effort and learn how to say my
name properly. It means a lot to me.
I think if I had a common
Polish name which was difficult to
pronounce here I would perhaps
consider anglicising it as many
people do, she says. But with such
a meaningful and beautiful name, I
can be only proud of it.
I guess the majority of us
embrace their names, they are a
crucial part of our identity.

How the referendum inspired young migrants

he Scottish referendum appears to have
had a lasting impact on the nations
young migrants.
Scotlands historic poll had the highest
recorded percentage turnout for any
British election since universal suffrage
was introduced, with more than 109,000
Scottish 16-17-year-olds registered to take
part after the voting age was lowered from
A survey by the Scottish Parliaments
devolution committee earlier this year
found that the referendum had inspired
a quarter of 16 and 17-year-olds to join
a political party, while a further 25 per
cent had become involved with political
These young migrants told Migrant
Voice how the referendum had affected
their view of politics:





I am from the Philippines and have lived

in Glasgow since 2011.

The Scottish referendum was really
great as almost all people living in Glasgow
I think the referendum empowered
young people showing them that if you
get involved something will happen and
positive results will come.
I get involved more in politics here
because politics affects everything: your
job, the NHS, migration.
Everyone has a voice and everyone
should practice participation by voting in
elections and referendums. Voting is their
right and privilege.

I am originally from Turkey but have

lived in Glasgow for 14 years; I spent my
childhood in Glasgow.
I was very active during the referendum
and really hoped for political change,
which in my opinion unfortunately did not


happen. Scotland is a strong and friendly

country and I would love it if it gained
more power for a better political and
economic future.
Since the referendum I have attended
and organised meetings to discuss what
will happen next. The topics discussed
at the moment are around the general

I am a staff nurse who lives in Glasgow

I have lived here for five years. I am
originally from the Philippines.
Around the time of the Scottish
independence referendum I was impressed
that people were taking an interest in
government and politics.
Ive always tried to keep up with whats
happening in politics, both back in the
Philippines and in the UK. Its important
for me to educate myself about the political
climate here.

Are foreign players

damaging Englands
national prospects?
Clement bucco-lechat

Clifton Kawanga reports on

both sides of a contentious
football debate

nglands unimpressive
international performances have
been blamed on the Premiership
not producing enough players eligible for
the national team. Others, however, argue
that foreign players bring competition that
is good for English players.
A total of 835m was spent on players
in the summer of 2014 but 80 per cent of
the players involved in the transfers are
ineligible to play for England.
Only 22 per cent of the starters in the
current top four teams are qualified to play
for England compared to 28 per cent last
I dont think we should interpret the
fact that clubs are buying foreign players as
meaning they dont have faith in the English
ones, England manager Roy Hodgson
(right) told The Guardian last year.
The year before he told The Daily
Telegraph: One has to be very careful
these days when talking about the Premier
League and talking about the Englishness
of it, because more than two-thirds of the
players in the league are not English.
In January, Arsenal manager Arsene
Wenger repeated calls to remove the
restriction on foreign players who would
like to play in England.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce
disagrees: We have to protect our own
to try and get more British players through.
If we open up the doors then the
floodgates would open and very few British
players would get the chance to come to a
football club.
Manchester City manager Manuel
Pellegrini has repeatedly said he would
like more English players in his team but
says the best are either unavailable or
Can you sign them? To improve this
squad, youre talking players you cant
get. Lets say [Luke] Shaw. 35m on a
left-back because hes English? Can you
get [Raheem] Sterling from Liverpool?
Maybe if you go with 100m, he told The
City have only two Englishmen Joe

I dont think
we should
the fact
that clubs
are buying
players as
they dont
have faith in
the English

Hart and James Milner in their regular

first-team line-up.
The Premier League has a global TV
following generating the money to attract
talented foreign players.
Former England and Liverpool defender
Jamie Carragher said TV deals could wash
away the next generation of English talent.
Premier League rules on foreign players
state that only players who have played
75 per cent of matches for a nation inside
Fifas top 70 within the past two years
are eligible for work permits. This rule
is meant to ensure progress of academy
players into first teams.
Although many teams have academies
to feed their senior squad, most clubs have
opted to buy ready-made foreign players,
thus, in the view of critics, limiting the
opportunities for home-grown players.
In March Football Association chairman
Greg Dyke proposed a change in the homegrown players rule to limit the maximum
number of non-home grown players in
first-team squads. The new rule would
require clubs to include 12 home-grown
players in a squad of 25, phased over four
years from 2016.
We have an obligation to these kids.
There are an awful lot of very talented kids
who are going into professional football
clubs at a very young age and an awful lot
getting lost, he told FA.com.
Dyke said the new rule would benefit
young players regardless of where they
are coming from: All players need to be
given a chance at the start of their careers.
This isnt happening enough in England.

All United
they stand
Pinar Aksu explains why she loves
guarding the goal-line

hen I first decided to play football

I didnt know who to approach.
Then I met Hala Ousta from the Scottish
Football Association, whose role is to
help increase the number of people
from ethnic minority communities in the
I want to create a safe environment for
girls who want to play football, taking into
account their cultural and religious needs.
I want to promote social inclusion and
integration, opening our doors to all from
any background, learning from each other,
she says.
Thats how I came to be goalie for
Glasgows All United football team.
Many people are surprised when I tell
them I play football, but sports have always
been a part of my life.
My dad is a huge Besiktas fan and I
always watched every game with him. I
played football with my friends, mainly
boys, in the park and in PE lessons in
primary school. My parents are okay with
me playing football as I got my passion
from my dad!
I loved playing netball when I
was in primary school, but football
seems international. You sell football
players and they migrate to another
country for years, taking their culture and
identity with them. It brings different
people from different backgrounds
together. It unites the people for a common
aim: to win and to enjoy. The adrenaline of
playing football is the most exciting thing
ever. Communicating with each other,
trusting your team mate and
being confident is the key to playing
At a time when politicians blame
everything on immigrants, I watch
football on TV and half of the players are
from a different country. The team makes
football beautiful. The team is made up of
people from all over the world, making it
a global language. That is why, as a female
from a different background, I love playing
football no matter my colour and my
country of origin.
My team has people from Asia, the
Middle East, Pakistan, Scotland and
elsewhere in Europe. Our ages range from
16 to 30.
At the moment, we are training. Once
we have formed a sustainable team, we
would like to join a league and continue our
journey from there.

Soccer stars tackle
the migrant myths
Clifton Kawanga reports on
a campaign to challenge
racist attitudes

2005 willie vass photography

igrant players whose skill and

athleticism have enhanced
British football in recent years
are helping tackle the racism that still
disfigures parts of society.
Many of them appear in a new film by
the Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC)
campaign that challenges myths about the
impact of immigration. It is to be launched
in June.
SRtRC chief executive Ged Grebby says:
We want to show personal stories of the
players who are role models. We have
always looked to challenge the main issues
of racism.
The thing that has changed within the
last 10 years is the increase of immigration
from Eastern Europe, he says. He believes
that has led many in politics and the media
to express negative views of migration.
In collaboration with Migrant Voice,
SRtRC talked to several migrants in the
UK. Important issues they raised have
been included in the film.
It features John Ameobi on his move
from Nigeria to Newcastle. He is the
father of Crystal Palace player Shola and
Newcastle Uniteds Sammy Ameobi, who
also appears in the film.
Others include former Sunderland
player Jozy Altidore, Arsenals French
players Mathieu Flamini and Abou Diaby,
and Evertons Spanish-born manager and
former player Roberto Martinez.
Chelsea and Spain midfielder Cesc
Fabregas, who is also featured in the film,
says: When they [the fans] are trying to
challenge the opposition, they dont realise
that they are hurting someone who is a
human being like them.
Grebby says: All the words associated
with migration are negative words like
they are taking our jobs, they are taking
our houses. We are trying to change young
peoples attitudes about these issues.
We want to do something positive.
We like the way Migrant Voice does it
too which is to create a positive view of

Olivier Bernard: helping the community

We want to show a huge variety of

people from different areas who are
contributing to UK society. We want people
to be aware of the real impact of migrants
in the UK.
Grebby established SRtRC in Tyneside
in 1996 with former Newcastle and West
Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. The other
player who supported the organisation
in its earliest days was Viv Anderson,
who played for England, Arsenal and
Manchester United as well as Forest in his
native Nottingham.

I nearly
went back
to France

Grebby says: We now work with over

50,000 young people and 4,000 adults per
year conducting a full day of anti-racism
He recognises that changing attitudes is
a long process, but adds: The external and
internal evaluations that are published on
our website show that we are on the right
One of SRtRCs ambassadors is
Frenchman Olivier Bernard who played
for Newcastle United until his retirement
in 2007. He has spent the past 15 years in
the UK.
When the opportunity came to take
over Durham City Football Club, I did
not hesitate because of my passion for
football, he says. I want the kids to fall
in love with football like I did when I was
young. I want to give young players the
opportunity to become professional.
Bernard says he learned a lot from the
former England, Newcastle and Barcelona
manager Sir Bobby Robson and wants to
put something back into the game in the
country he now calls home.
I want to help the community to
produce young English players. I always
tell my players that the door is open. If the
players are good enough, I am ready to pick
up my phone and call the clubs that could
be interested in them.
When the former Lyon left-back arrived
in England in 2000 as a 19-year-old he
could not speak a word of English. It was
difficult to adapt to life in England and I
nearly went back to France, he says.
Racist chants were common when he
played for Newcastle away from home.
It is very difficult to play football when
you hear the monkey chants. You hear it in
the stands.
As a player you do not want to
play against a team that does not
respect you: football is a noble game
to play. We should use it to send beautiful
messages about happiness, team
bonding and connecting with the fans,
he says.
Grebby agrees: We think the model we
are using is effective because we know that
young people listen to footballers. Even
people who are racist listen to football
players. he said.

We hope you have enjoyed the paper. Please send us your comments: info@migrantvoice.org