Only 15 per cent of the people in the North East think more refugees from Syria and Libya should be able to come to Britain, a BBC poll suggested yesterday.
Fourty-four per cent of adults surveyed in the region said they supported refugees from Syria and Libya being placed nearby and 64 per cent opposed the UK accepting more refugees.
Dr Mohamed Nasreldin, Director at North of England Refugee Service, said: “I don’t think there is any hostility which makes the region stand out compared to other regions.
“The reality is people are quite welcoming. We haven’t had any reports of incidents of harassment or hostility.”
There are more than 3000 asylum seekers in the North East, placed in dispersal accommodation around the region. Their main countries of origin in 2015 were Eritrea, Sudan, Iran and Syria and unintentional discrimination might be on the rise.
Georgina Fletcher, Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Refugee Forum North East, said: “I think this kind of thing, like the red doors in Middlesbrough and the wristbands in Cardiff, is rising, because contracts to house vulnerable people are held in the private sector, which isn’t renowned for understanding how to look after vulnerable sections of the community.
“They are more about managing the budgets and making sure the money adds up, whereas, in my view, contracts held by the voluntary sector will get much more attention to the detail of any potential sort of impact on people’s vulnerability.”
In total, about 15,000 refugees in the region have been granted asylum.
However, until they have been granted the status of asylum, they are held in a completely unique system, where they cannot choose where to live and are not allowed to work. They also face stress, because of not knowing whether they will be allowed to stay in or will be sent back to where they come from.
“Often what happens is we see deterioration in their mental health after they arrive in the UK.
“It’s a human reaction – if you’re not allowed to partake in society and you are constantly worried about your future, your mental health is going to suffer. When you’re trying to operate in a second language, that’s a real additional problem,” said Ms Fletcher.
There was 19 per cent rise in asylum applications nationally in 2015.
While, in September 2015, 31 per cent of Britons thought the UK should accept fewer refugees from Syria and Libya, the figure has now risen to 41 per cent, with 61 per cent of those surveyed saying ”accepting refugees from countries such as Syria and Libya puts Britain’s security at risk”.