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14 July 2005

Kurds struggle to rebuild their lives

AS WAR rages in Iraq, victims of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime are not finding sympathy for their plight matched with a commitment to help them rebuild their lives in Salford.

Salford asylum seeker group RAPAR claims over 50 Iraqi Kurds seeking asylum in Salford and Manchester have been told to return to Iraq. And they claim the situation is not much better for those able to stay.

Kurds in Salford have been beaten, shouted at, had their windows smashed, and been threatened in their own homes, according to RAPAR development worker and Iraqi Kurd Fazil Jamal Mustafa.

A teacher and social worker in Sulnymania before fleeing two years ago, he said one of the biggest problems was that Salford had not traditionally taken refugees, meaning local people were confused and services were not in place.

He said the language and culture barrier left even those who spoke English struggling to understand local systems, adding: "People in Salford aren't used to having refugees and asylum seekers. The government sent people here and didn't explain why."

Explaining that Kurds in Iraq faced repression and ethnic cleansing, he went on: "You can't say anything against the regime, use your own language or have your own opinions. That's why we came here."

Although admitting the situation had improved recently, largely thanks to the formation of RAPAR and Salford Council's Asylum Seekers and Refugees Scrutiny Commission, Fazil said the current situation was still not acceptable.

In Weaste, former Iraqi policeman Mr Abdulkadir and his family have been waiting eight months for their case to be decided.

The 35-year-old was a policeman in Iraq before fleeing in fear of his life after opposing Saddam's regime. He claimed his family had suffered abuse in Salford - his 12-year-old son has twice been beaten up - but most people had been kind.

He added that he was firmly behind the current war on Iraq, which he hoped would topple Saddam.

Nobody from Salford Council was available to comment as The Advertiser went to press.

First published by the Salford Advertiser


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