Asylum seeker wristbands at UK centre spark outrage

25th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Asylum seekers will no longer have to wear wristbands to claim food at a centre in Britain, its management announced Monday, after the practice sparked outcry and comparisons with Nazi Germany.

Clearsprings, a company contracted to house asylum seekers on behalf of the British government, said the system had been in place since May last year as a way of distinguishing what meals people were entitled to.

"As in numerous such establishments where large numbers of people are being provided with services, wristbands are considered to be one of the most reliable and effective ways of guaranteeing delivery," the company said in a statement.

"We are always reviewing the way we supply our services and have decided to cease the use of wristbands."

It followed an outcry by campaigners after the practice at the Lynx House centre in Cardiff in Wales was revealed in a report by newspaper The Guardian.

"It harks back to the Nazi regime with people being forced to wear a Star of David and stand out," said Hannah Wharf, policy officer of the Welsh Refugee Council.

"It's absolutely appalling, it is treating people like lesser beings. It is treating them like animals lining up to feed."

Jo Stevens, the justice spokeswoman for the opposition Labour party, said that she would raise the issue in parliament.

Eric Ngalle, 36, who spent a month in Lynx House before being granted refugee status, told The Guardian that asylum seekers were identifiable to locals due to the wristbands, which made them targets for abuse.

"Sometimes drivers would see our wristbands, start honking their horns and shout out of the window, 'Go back to your country,'" Ngalle told the Guardian, describing the bands as "the garments of an outcast".

"If you take off the wristband you can't reseal it back on to your wrist so if you want to eat you have to wear it all the time," he added.

It follows a similar controversy in the northeast of England, where asylum seekers said they were targeted for abuse because the front doors of their homes were painted red by a private contractor.

© 2016 AFP

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