'I fear every knock on my door'

Tuesday, 09 March 2010 01:03 BBC : Joanne Macaulay
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Ledia Tewelde sobs as she arrives at the spot where three people apparently jumped from the 15th floor of a block of flats in Glasgow.

She understands how they may have felt, because last year she jumped out of a flat window as the pressure of being an asylum seeker became too much for her.

Ledia is 22 and from Eritrea - the country she fled because of fear of religious persecution.  She has been in Glasgow for four years, but she still does not know whether or not she can stay, and she fears any knock at the door.

"We're coming to this country for safety but there's no safety here - I'm scared all the time." Ledia jumped out of the window when she heard a knock at the door one night. She feared it was perhaps the Home Office coming to deport her, or just someone else with a grudge against asylum seekers. So she jumped, breaking both legs and fracturing her back.

'Bad situation'

Scotland has not turned out to be the safe haven she had hoped for, but she said she does not want to go back to Eritrea. "It's a very bad situation in my country."I am protestant and the government would put me in jail," she said.

For many of the asylum seekers living in the Red Road flats it is the uncertainty which is stressful. They do not know whether or not they will have to return to the country they left, and as they await decisions they are unable to work, often living on food vouchers.


A Liberian woman cuddles her two-year-old son as she pauses to look at the candles and signs which have been placed where the three people died. "I'm scared they might come to get me," she said in reference to the Home Office. Tina has been here for two-and-a-half years, having fled Liberia because her family wanted to perform a circumcision on her.

Her application for asylum has been refused, and she says life is very difficult. She said: "The Home Office don't even look at people's cases any more, they just refuse." She dreads having to return to Liberia: "Since I've disobeyed my parents there's no home for me.

"The police told me 'your father is right, this is our culture'."Tina is now living on food vouchers, which leaves no money for clothes or other extras. "I will face what I have to," she said.  But she added: "If I have to go home I will have my son adopted here."

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