Hull is “hell”, says Iraqi refugee

An Iraqi refugee has said life where she lives in Hull is the same as her troubled home country, Iraq.

Ms Intesar Hassan told the Mail: “When I think about Iraq and Hull, they are the same to me.

“After war broke out, we were brought to Hull as we were under the threat of being killed. We had to escape for our lives.”

Ms Hassan initially fled to Syria, but the civil war there forced her to seek asylum in Britain with the help of the UN’s refugee programme. She complains the property she lives in provided by the council is damp, has no heating, and no maintenance has been done since she arrived in 2012.

“I open the window at night because I can’t breathe from the damp inside the house,” she said. “This situation is reminding me and re-traumatising me from past experiences.” 

“I told the Refugee Council that the house is freezing but they didn’t do anything.”

A spokesman for Hull City Council said the property was “immaculate” when the family first moved in, and revealed maintenance workers have been refused entry over the years. Access has also been denied to the city council’s environmental health team.

Ms Hassan wants to be moved to a new home following an accident: “I fell down the stairs in the house which led to me needing to have my gall bladder operated on.

“I have letters from Castle Hill Hospital, GPs and occupational therapists which recommends I am placed into a new house suitable for disabled people, but I have waited on Hull City Council’s housing list since the day I arrived in Hull.”

However, the council is denying Ms Hassan on the grounds new accommodation is “based on need”.

“The council allocates council properties based on need and looks to support those with the most pressing needs, whilst taking into account factors such as arrears and previous tenancy issues,” said the spokesman, pointing out that helpful information has been provided in Arabic and the Council has collaborated with the environmental health team, the landlord and the family’s support worker to resolve the situation.

“The Refugee Council provides specialist integration support for resettled refugees, including health, education, welfare and English language support,” said executive director of services, Una Barry MBE.

“We work closely with partners, including Hull local authority and community groups, to help refugees settle into their new communities and make steps towards independence. 

“However, we do not find or procure housing for resettled refugees in Hull, and are not responsible for overseeing rental agreements for the refugees we support.”