Wednesday, 9 March 2011


on Saturday 12 March
For Everyone’s SURVIVAL & WELFARE - End Cuts, Poverty & Discrimination
Invest in caring not killing

MOTHERS MARCH – 12 March 2011 – 12 noon at Trafalgar Square; 2pm SOAS
For interviews & information: Marie Kassaga 0207 482 2496

What one asylum seeker lives on
“I fled from DRC in 2004 after being raped and tortured. My case was closed and I became homeless because my lawyer didn’t challenge the Home Office claim that it would be safe for me to go back. I am not allowed to work. While appealing the HO decision I stayed on friend’s floors or slept on night buses. My psychiatrist wrote a letter of support and I got housed by Social Services. I get Tesco vouchers of £30 a week for all my food, clothes and toiletries. It’s very hard to find enough to eat on so little money and I don’t feel well a lot of the time. Church agencies help with things like towels and sheets which social services don’t provide. Unless I can exchange some vouchers with a friend I can’t pay for fares or anything else. I’m often stuck in my flat, which is very lonely. Having to live like this makes me feel useless.”

What a mother and her daughter had to live on

“Before I got my refugee status, I lived on NASS support for almost five years. My daughter and I had to move five times because they kept changing housing providers – no sooner had we got used to somewhere, we had to move again. The places were supposed to be furnished, but often big things were missing, like a washing machine, which is hard when you have a young child. And they give you cups and plates but only two of each, so if anyone comes you have no plate to give them! I got help from church charities. We had to live on £70 a week and eat the cheapest food which isn’t nutritious. I only bought charity shop clothes. If my daughter wanted a toy even for Christmas, I had to say no. The only time we got away was through a church befriending scheme and we spent two days by the seaside. It was such a treat for both of us! It’s hard to believe we managed for so long on so little – it was tough.”

We are marching to represent the countries we come from and to tell the world what Western governments and corporations did and are still doing to our countries which has brought us to flee.

Coming here was not a choice but a desperate measure caused by wars often funded and promoted by Western governments. They sell arms to our governments which are then used to kill us and take whatever we have; all our natural resources. Arms are traded for oil, gold and other precious minerals. British arms sales to Africa have risen to record levels over the last four years and have now reached £1 billion annually. 10% of all Shell’s oil comes from Nigeria yet over 50% of the population live in absolute poverty. UK arms sales to Nigeria are up tenfold since 2000 to £53m, including armoured vehicles and other weapons used to put down people’s protests.

When we arrive here we are not treated fairly. When we claim asylum as survivors of massacres and rape that everyone knows took place, we are not believed, and are called liars, bogus asylum seekers, economic migrants who only come looking for benefits. When we escaped, we have often had to leave our children behind, but when we claim asylum we are not treated as mothers and our children are not allowed to join us. Both children and mothers are traumatized by being separated from each other. We don’t know if our children are alive, eating, going to school. We live in anguish for their wellbeing.

Mothers fighting to be reunited with their children

“I left my three precious children in Rwanda after soldiers killed my husband and tortured me. I knew they would be safer without me, so I fled alone. After nine years, I won the right to stay here. Now I’m fighting for my children, now 15, 18, and 20, to join me, but so far we’ve been refused. Separation from our children causes untold grief and suffering to them and therefore to us. For all our sakes, we are determined to put an end to it, and win the justice we're owed. ” “Mothers should be a priority and are not. The caring work we do is not a priority, our children’s suffering because they have no-one to love and protect them is not a priority, our pain at being separated from them is not a priority. We are dismissed because we are mothers, because we are women, because we are Black women . . . and as if that’s not enough because we are asylum seekers. We are fighting to change this. Some women have been reunited with their children. Others have found children that were lost. Most of us are still fighting.”
What we face in the UK
We face racism and discrimination at every turn, sometimes even from other Black people who have been here longer or are in positions of authority, such as doctors, school heads or when we try to get housing or other resources we are entitled to.

While waiting for our right to asylum, most of us are destitute. We are prevented from taking any job at the same time that we are denied money to live. We are forced to depend on handouts, sometimes living on the street with our children. We are being pushed into more destitution with all the government cuts. More children, not only ours, will die of malnourishment and disease as mothers struggle to make a decent meal for them. Or they will be taken by social services with the excuse that we are too poor to look after them. Legal aid cuts will take away any legal representation. This will increase illegal deportation, detention, and domestic violence and rape against women dependent on men for survival. We want the government to put a stop to benefit cuts and also to recognize children’s right to food, clothing, housing and their mothers’ care.


Ms Y – “Mothers are suffering in this country, especially asylum seekers…but without a mother there is no nation. Who will suffer most from the cuts? Mothers.”

Ms X – “The government should give mothers the right to join with their children here”

All African Women’s Group
Crossroads Women’s Centre, 230A Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AB