Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Reading Materials
Figure 2: Thanks For My Life Free From Terror: A Real Asylum Seeker
Terror in her war-torn land drove Selima to flee Somalia without her young childrenfour years ago. "Men forced their way into our house and fired bullets and theyraped my aunt. Five or six men raping one woman," says Selima, 27, quietly."My uncle was killed. Afterwards, my mother said: 'Don't worry, at least you didn'tget killed.' I think it would have been better to die."As a girl, Selima had thought her life was mapped out for her. "I knew nothing aboutpolitics," she says. "My friends and I were more interested in nail polish and whatnames we were going to give our children."But when she was 15, a bloody civil war broke out. Her brother was shot dead. "Webecame used to death," she says. "People got killed in front of you all the time."She married at 19. Her first son, Hussan, was born in 1996, and Hussein followed in1998.But in 1999, after her husband was beaten and escaped to Ethiopia, her motherpersuaded her to flee. She says: "It was agonising leaving my family but I believe Iwould have been killed if I stayed."In 2000 she arrived in Britain via Ethiopia and moved into a cousin's flat in NorthLondon. She says: "I was lucky because I spoke a little English and I had anaddress, which meant I could get food vouchers, which were £38 a week.” Shestudied full-time, learning English and computer studies. She missed her familyterribly, but then a visit to Southampton changed her life."I thought it was a really beautiful and peaceful place," she says: "I was suddenlyfilled with an ambition to achieve something.” She turned to Refugee Action andthe National Asylum Support Service and was offered a studio flat in Southampton.Last July, she was granted indefinite leave to stay here.She has found part-time work and is waiting for her British passport, which willenable her to bring her children over."I will be a mother again," she says, her eyes lighting up. "Many British people thinkall asylum-seekers just want to be here to get things for free. They don't see thereal people behind this image or hear the stories like mine.