Socialist Worker

'We are united to support refugees'

Issue No. 1712

Residents on Leeds estate speak out

'We are united to support refugees'

A REFUGEE family in Leeds seemed to have become victims of the anti-refugee witch-hunt conducted by Tory and New Labour politicians, and their friends in the press. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that the Kosovan family had been "driven from their home" in the Broadlea Grove estate after a "gang" smashed their windows.

But Broadlea is not the "estate of hate" the paper has branded it. Most of the residents have been shocked by the attack on the Kosovan family and have rallied round to support refugees. JIM, a Broadlea resident, tells their story.

A four year old local kid was throwing stones at the Kosovan family's door and the Kosovan girl tapped him on the bottom. Then the four year old's mother came over and started kicking up a fuss. I couldn't believe it. Loads of police turned up really quickly and got the family out.

I never got a chance to speak to them. I think the Kosovans are entitled to stay in this country and be safe. The family faced a lot in Kosovo. The father of the four kids had a smashed-up ankle from a landmine injury.

One of the boys had no legs and was in a wheelchair. They were really nice and the kindest people. They moved in a few months after I came in August last year.

When I was in my garden they used to ask if anyone needed a hand. We spoke most days. The father supported Manchester United and I'm a Rangers fan. I'd ask him how the team was doing and he'd say, "Brilliant!" We were sad to see them go. Now everyone in the street is united to keep the Kosovans here-there are six other families from Kosovo in the street.

Their house is all boarded up. Somebody should be in there and why not another Kosovan family? Loretta, one of the other residents, got a petition going to say we support refugees.

There are about 100 families on the estate and virtually everyone has signed it. I'm 100 percent behind the Kosovans. Most people feel the same as me about refugees and we outnumber the few who don't agree, and even some of them felt they had to put their names to the petition.

There was a meeting last week on the estate with the council, police and refugee workers. There were 42 people from the estate there. We said that this was never going to happen again-we think people can live together. The local paper has tried to hype the whole thing up. We told the council that if they want to bring the family back onto the estate, we'll look after them.

We should all stand united and stick together.


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Sat 2 Sep 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1712
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