Asylum protest leads to action

ASYLUM seekers who blockaded Norwich Road in Ipswich in protest over delays in handling their asylum bids will be relocated before the end of the year, the Home Office pledged today.

ASYLUM seekers who blockaded Norwich Road in Ipswich in protest over delays in handling their asylum bids will be relocated before the end of the year, the Home Office pledged today.

Immigration Service officials have declared that all 92 asylum seekers currently being housed in Wilbury House in Norwich Road will be dispersed following the protest on Monday night.

Officials from the service met with representatives of the asylum seekers yesterday in a bid to address their concerns over the speed the claims were being processed.

A Home Office spokesman said a decision had been made to examine the reasons for the men not being dispersed sooner and to resolve them.


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"We will ensure that all those presently at the property are dispersed by the end of December at the latest," he said.

"Officials will now be meeting with each of the individuals at the property to examine their individual cases and resolve any issues that might have resulted in their not being dispersed."

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It is not yet clear when those meetings will be held but the decision represents a major victory for the asylum seekers, who resorted to carrying a bed, pieces of wood, blankets and other objects into the road to force authorities to hear their concerns.

Police were first called to Norwich Road at 9pm on Monday and they were forced to close the road at about 10.30pm.

It was closed for less than half an hour but was only reopened for several minutes before it was closed again from 11pm for more than an hour as more than 60 men from Iraq, Iran, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan occupied the road.

Wilbury House provides accommodation for asylum seekers on a 14-day "emergency accommodation" basis but many of the current residents have been housed there for several months.

During the blockade one of the men told the Evening Star through a translator: "Some of us have been in for one month, some of us for seven months or more.

"This is a temporary accommodation. We're supposed to live her for a short time, six weeks at the maximum but some are living here for more than a year."

Once given dispersal, the men will be moved to share accommodation, for example in share houses, and given benefits while their claims are dealt with.

The Refugee Council welcomed the Home Office's decision to move the men to alternate accommodation.

"Any resolution is good news," a spokeswoman for the council said.

"We welcome the Home Office looking at the issues and helping those people who feel frustrated and for some reason haven't been dispersed.

"They are listening and that's a good thing."

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