Socialist Worker

Why Refugees are not our enemies

Issue No. 1734

There were many important issues that New Labour could have homed in on this week. They included job losses, privatisation, low pay and the state of public services.

Instead New Labour ministers once again dragged up scares about asylum seekers. As disillusion grows with the government, some in New Labour are ready to play with fire by seeking to direct discontent onto vulnerable and desperate people.

Far from silencing the Tories and the racists, such a strategy will only make their poison seem more acceptable and encourage them to demand filthier measures.

These politicians want us to forget the real problems in society and instead to witch-hunt refugees. There has not been the same level of anti-refugee fervour in the press recently since its high point a year ago.

Cases like the 58 Chinese refugees found suffocated in the back of a lorry in Dover provoked sympathy, not hatred, amongst most people. Campaigning against attacks on refugees also made a difference.

But Blair and Straw are again dredging up the image of 'bogus' refugees. They now threaten more brutal regulations, and are fuelling fear and hatred. Our real enemies are the bosses and the politicians who support them. Nobody should be fooled into scapegoating people fleeing war, repression and dire poverty.

Soft touch?

Refugees are living in houses unfit for human habitation while landlords rake in vast profits.

That was the conclusion of the housing charity Shelter, whose report into refugee accommodation is chilling reading. Nearly one fifth of all refugee housing they surveyed was unfit for humans to live in.

Some 19 percent of refugee homes were infested with cockroaches, fleas and other bugs, and 83 percent were exposed to unacceptable risk of fire.

'Shelter's findings explode the myth that asylum seekers are fast tracking into the best housing,' said Chris Holmes, Shelter's director. 'We have found the grim reality is many are living in absolute squalor that puts their health and safety at risk.'

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Sat 10 Feb 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1734
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