Hundreds seek asylum in Leeds

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Stark figures have revealed that Leeds is housing 626 asylum seekers in the city, while rural towns and villages have said they simply do no have the resources or money.

The Government statistics, which show the depth of disparity between Yorkshire’s rural and urban communities, have sparked a call for more to be done elsewhere.

“They are seeking asylum because they are afraid - this is life and limb stuff,” said Jon Beech, director of Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network (LASSN).

“It boils down to being afraid for their safety. You can’t claim asylum because you’re poor.

“Other councils could step up more. We’re not looking at large numbers of people - 626 in Leeds with a population of 800,000. That’s less than 1 per cent. It makes you wonder what they’re afraid of.”

The figures show neighbouring Bradford has taken 720 asylum seekers and refugees and Hull has taken 298.

And while the region is experiencing a rise in numbers, Migration Yorkshire has said, these are well below the peak of the last decade.

“Leeds City Council has been brilliant,” said Mr Beech.

“They have said they don’t want people to share rooms - that’s not the case in every city.

“They might be forced to share a room with someone they don’t know, who might not speak their language. It’s like living life in a prison cell. It’s pretty bleak.

“Without doubt, they do start to lose their reason to be. These are dentists, doctors, university lecturers. They are skilled. It’s a shame. In the Second World War, we welcomed refugees with a bit of gumption.”