Elderly asylum seeking couple face racial abuse after sudden move
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Health, Legal
An elderly asylum seeking couple, one of whom suffers severe health problems, were suddenly moved to inappropriate accommodation by a government appointed provider where they have since suffered racial abuse, it has been claimed.
Mr and Mrs Pambu, asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), had lived in a Sunderland flat regarded as suitable for their needs for two and a half years. However, the couple claim they were suddenly given a week's notice and evicted from the flat by Jomast - a North East company handed one of the Government's COMPASS (Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services project) contracts - in August and moved to another flat in Gateshead.
Mrs Pambu, who is 70, suffers from diabetes and spinal problems, and has been forced to sleep on the floor of the new flat because the specialist bed she used was not transported from the Sunderland premises.
The Pambus claim they have suffered a stream of racist abuse since moving into the ground floor flat. They have made reports of people chanting "blacks go home" outside their flat, and of stones being thrown at their windows.
Within a few days Jomast put new asylum seekers in the Pambu's previous home in Sunderland. Jomast claims that it had authority from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to make the move.
Dorothy Ismail, who is a volunteer at a Sunderland drop in centre for asylum seekers and refugees, said: "Jomast said that it had moved the Pambus out so it could hand the property back to the landlord. However, it claimed that the new asylum seekers were moved in because it was an emergency. The new tenants are still in the flat."
The French-speaking couple, who speak very little English, have said that their new flat has no facilities for hanging or storing clothes and has a faulty washing machine.
Mr Pambu, 80, said: "We are in a place that is not good for us. We are very anxious and afraid. We dare not even open our windows. We are too frightened to go out. We have no security."
The police have recorded six separate incidents of racial harassment against the Pambus between 19 August and 22 September . The couple's plight has been discussed at the Gateshead Hate Crime Tension Monitoring meetings where both the UKBA and Jomast are involved.
Neighbourhood Inspector Michael Robson, Gateshead Area Command, said: "We take all incidents of a racist nature extremely seriously and have been taking a number of steps to deal with this couple's concerns. We have received several reports of anti-social behaviour at this address in recent months and the local neighbourhood team have been working with the occupants to try and reassure them and explain what they've been doing.
"A number of local youths have been spoken to about their behaviour. Extra, high visibility patrols have been carried out in the local area and officers have also been in touch with partners, including local housing providers with a view to supporting the family further."
We are currently awaiting responses from both Jomast and the UKBA.