Refugees clash with Dover locals

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The Independent Online
VIOLENT confrontations between residents and refugees in Dover left five people in hospital last night, including some with stab wounds.

Police from across Kent were drafted in to prevent further trouble after the latest in a series of angry disturbances in the town saw three people arrested.

More than 5,000 asylum seekers are now thought to be living in Dover and nearby. Residents and councillors claim that the refugees, many from the Balkans, are responsible for crimes and harassment of local people.

Earlier this month the Conservative leader of Kent County Council, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, warned of a "tinderbox atmosphere" in Dover, where entire streets of b&bs are being used to house refugees.

In a letter to government ministers, Mr Bruce-Lockhart said he was "increasingly fearful [that the problems] could culminate in a fatal confrontation or arson attack".

Yesterday's violence involved 20 people in a series of fights that started in mid-afternoon at a funfair. Some of the victims were taken to local hospitals, but no one was seriously hurt.

The refugees involved in yesterday's fracas are thought to come from the Balkans, but Kent police would not disclose their nationalities.

Inspector Geoff Wyatt said there would be a "high-visibility" police presence in the town until the fair closes tonight.

Kent County Council estimates that asylum seekers are arriving on the south coast at the rate of 1,000 a month, and resentment has been growing. Locals in Dover have complained of being accosted by beggars claiming to have come from Kosovo, and some have said they have been threatened into handing over money.

The editor of the Dover Express and Folkestone Herald, Nick Hudson, caused dismay last year when he ran an editorial describing the asylum seekers as "the back-draft of a nation's human sewage". His papers have also blamed refugees for a spate of shoplifting.

RACE VIOLENCE FEARS, PAGE 10

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