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An Afghan man staying at the targeted asylum seeker hotel spoke of his fear in the aftermath of Friday’s violent anti-refugee riots.

Asylum seekers are pleading to be moved from the Suites Hotel in Knowsley, Merseyside following the angered protests that broke out on February 10. 

Refugee charity Care 4 Calais said that ‘the saddest thing’ it heard after the attack was an Afghan man saying, ‘I wasn’t safe in my country and I’m not safe here.’

His thoughts come nearly three years after the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, with many desperately scrambling to escape – even by clinging onto evacuation planes.  

Care 4 Calais returned to the hotel to give asylum seekers chocolates, cakes and other sweet treats in an attempt to cheer them up today.  

Riot police pictured at the scene on Friday night, which resulted in the arrests of 15 individuals 

‘The mood was muted. People were naturally disturbed. The most common things we heard were “We just want to be safe”, “we haven’t done anything wrong” and “Please, can you help us move to another town?”,’ the charity said. 

Protesters set a police van alight and chanted ‘get them out’ during the riot on February 10.

A total of 15 people, including a 13-year-old, were arrested following the violent scenes.

Jared Skeete, 19, was today charged with violent disorder and assault by beating of an emergency worker. He has been remanded in custody to appear at Wirral Adult Remand Court tomorrow, police say.

The remaining 14 people arrested – 12 men and two women who are mainly from the Knowsley area – have been conditionally bailed pending the outcome of ongoing enquiries.

Police were pelted with missiles and forced to wear protective clothing including riot gear shields and helmets.

Care 4 Calais added: ‘The situation is overwhelmingly sad. Every person in that hotel has had to leave their homes and their loved ones behind because of situations that they cannot control and did not ask for. No one does that by choice.

‘We met people from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Iraq – these are some of the most dangerous places in the world. Their homes have been bombed, villages ransacked. Their children have been persecuted. Some have been horribly tortured. 

‘They came here to ask for our help, believing the UK to be a place of sanctuary. And they have been met with hostility and fear.’

Protesters set a police van alight and chanted 'get them out' during the riot near the Suites Hotel in Knowlsey

Protesters set a police van alight and chanted ‘get them out’ during the riot near the Suites Hotel in Knowlsey

A group of men are pictured at one of the windows of the hotel following the riots on Friday night

A group of men are pictured at one of the windows of the hotel following the riots on Friday night

Protesters pictured outside the hotel on Friday night, where they sang anti-refugee songs amid clashes with police

Protesters pictured outside the hotel on Friday night, where they sang anti-refugee songs amid clashes with police

The riot outside a migrant hotel last night was sparked by fury over an online video

The riot outside a migrant hotel last night was sparked by fury over an online video

The riots were said to be sparked by an online video of a schoolgirl who said she was sexually harassed by a 25-year-old man allegedly staying at the hostel.

The clip showed the man asking the 15-year-old, wearing a school uniform, for her number. 

The teenager, who filmed the exchange on her mobile phone, asked the bearded man his age.   

When replying that he was 25, she said: ‘You don’t do this in this country. You go to jail if you do this.’

The video was said to have been filmed on Tuesday in Kirkby, Merseyside, two miles from the Suites Hotel.

Knowsley MP Sir George Howarth said the demonstration was triggered by ‘an alleged incident on social media’, adding: ‘Until the police have investigated the matter, it is too soon to jump to conclusions and the effort on the part of some to inflame the situation is emphatically wrong.

‘If an offence has been committed, the police should deal with it appropriately through due process.’

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy added: ‘We understand that prior to this happening last night there were rumours, and misinformation, being circulated on social media following an incident earlier in the week. 

‘I am mindful of the risks that rumour and speculation bring and want to reassure the public that we are aware of an incident which happened at the beginning of the week and an investigation is ongoing.

The scene outside the Suites Hotel in Kirkby, Liverpool after a protest against the migrants living in the hotel turned nasty on Friday

The scene outside the Suites Hotel in Kirkby, Liverpool after a protest against the migrants living in the hotel turned nasty on Friday

‘Detectives are investigating reports of an incident which occurred in Kirkby on Monday, 6 February, when a man made inappropriate advances toward a teenage girl.

‘This was reported by members of the public to police, but no victim was initially identified. Following enquiries, a man in his 20s, was arrested on Thursday, 9 February, in another part of the country on suspicion of a public order offence.

‘A file was submitted to the CPS and on their advice he was released with no further action.’

Shadow levelling up secretary and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy described the protest as ‘absolutely horrendous’ and criticised the Government for creating a ‘toxic mix’ of anti-migrant rhetoric and poor service provision.

‘In the north of England, places like Knowsley, this is not who we are,’ she told the BBC.

‘The story of the last decade has been the story of people across this country throwing open their homes to refugees from Ukraine, stepping up to support the Syrian appeal, when we had impending disaster.

‘Even in the last few weeks, we’ve had people across the north of England stepping forward to put forward record donations to help with the appalling situation in Turkey and Syria.

‘There are a small number of far right activists who whip up hate and hostility in this country, we all need to speak with one voice when we say that we utterly condemn them.’

A police van was destroyed during the riot outside the Suites Hotel in Knowsley, February 10 2023

A police van was destroyed during the riot outside the Suites Hotel in Knowsley, February 10 2023

Shadow levelling up secretary and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy described the protest as 'absolutely horrendous'

Shadow levelling up secretary and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy described the protest as ‘absolutely horrendous’

Ms Nandy described the Government’s decisions to contract out asylum services, forgo consultation with communities and place refugees in unsuitable accommodation as a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Referring to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, she said: ‘When you lay onto that a Government that talks about things like an “invasion” in relation to immigration, you have a perfect storm, a really toxic mix that is being created.’

It comes after Ms Braverman said the ‘alleged behaviour of some asylum seekers’ was never an excuse for violence.

‘I condemn the appalling disorder in Knowsley last night,’ she said.

‘The alleged behaviour of some asylum seekers is never an excuse for violence and intimidation.’ 

Meanwhile, development minister Andrew Mitchell said on Sunday that the violence was ‘totally unjustifiable’.

He told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: ‘We live in a country where peaceful protest is part of our way of life and I strongly support that. But violence in the way that we saw on Friday night is completely unacceptable, and the Government condemn it absolutely.’

He rejected suggestions that the Government had helped stir up anti-migrant sentiment, adding that it has housed ‘thousands and thousands of Ukrainian refugees’ along with people from Hong Kong and Afghanistan.

‘This is an unprecedented time in terms of Britain helping people who are caught in desperate jeopardy,’ he said.

‘We have a duty to welcome these people – often they are caught in desperate jeopardy, but equally we have a duty to house them appropriately and to work with local people.

‘The Home Office is trying very hard now to stop the excessive use of hotels and find different ways of placing them in appropriate places in the community. And that is something that the Home Office will achieve.’

#wasnt #safe #country #safe #Afghan #antirefugee #hotel #riots

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