Asylum Seekers In Cardiff Forced To Wear Identifying Wristbands, Government To Face Questions

25/01/2016 07:52 | Updated 25 January 2016

The government is to face questions over why it allowed asylum seekers to face abuse and harassment after being forced to wear brightly coloured wristbands.

The wristbands have been handed out to asylum seekers staying at Lynx House in Cardiff, accommodation run by a Home Office contractor, so they can claim breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Press Association reports.

Housing bosses insist the bands are discreet and do not single out residents but the move was condemned by human rights groups, saying it is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Welsh singer Charlotte Church called it a "disgrace," adding: "For the first time in my life, I feel ashamed of where I come from."

The Welsh Refugee Council (WRC) claimed the wristbands echoed the yellow star Jewish people were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

WRC policy officer Hannah Wharf said: “We have raised the matter many times with the Welsh Government. It harks back to the Nazi regime with people being forced to wear a Star of David and stand out.

“It’s absolutely appalling, it is treating people like lesser beings. It is treating them like animals lining up to feed.”

Cardiff Central MP and Shadow Justice Minister Jo Stevens said she would be asking questions of the government on Monday. She raised her objections to Clearsprings, which runs the accommodation, and said the use of wristbands would cease.

A 36-year-old refugee in Cardiff called Eric Ngalle told The Guardian that motorists on nearby roads would sometimes notice the wristbands and tell their wearers to “go back to your country”.

Clearsprings Ready Homes told the paper its policy came in the face of an increase in asylum seekers.

A spokesman said: “Volumes of people in initial accommodation sites, including Cardiff (have) increased quickly.

"Clearsprings has taken steps, agreed with the Home Office to increase capacity in line with this demand in the form of additional self-catering accommodation.

lynx house cardiff

Lynx House, Cardiff

"Those clients in the self-catering units receive a weekly allowance in the form of supermarket vouchers and those in full-board accommodation are issued with a coloured wristband that bears no other logo or text identifying its use or origin.

“Full-board clients are required to show their wristbands in order to receive meals in the restaurant."


Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the Home Office should also face “serious questions” about the situation in Cardiff.

She said: “I have been told that this alarming practice of forcing asylum seekers to wear coloured wristbands will be stopped.

"It is understandable the Home Office requires asylum seekers to carry some form of identification for practical reasons such as when they collect meals.

"However, such a visible indicator is unnecessary and has left a community already under suspicion open to further harassment and distress.

“I will be writing to the Home Secretary to seek assurance that this practice will not be repeated anywhere else in the UK.”

The Home Office declined to comment on the matter, saying it was "an operational issue" for Clearsprings Ready Homes.

The wristbands echo the asylum seekers' situation in Middlesbrough last week, when it was revealed they had been targeted by racist thugs after being housed behind front doors painted a particular shade of red.

That prompted immigration minister James Brokenshire to launch an “urgent audit” of asylum seeker housing in the North East.

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