Asylum-seekers turn blind eye to video nasty of British life

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The Independent Online

What with the weather, rail strikes and one of the highest violent crime rates in Europe, the task of dissuading people from visiting Britain should not have been too taxing.

What with the weather, rail strikes and one of the highest violent crime rates in Europe, the task of dissuading people from visiting Britain should not have been too taxing.

But a "video nasty" of life in the UK, intended to discourage asylum-seekers from crossing the Channel, has failed to tarnish this country's allure. The campaign, aimed at refugees in the Sangatte Red Cross hostel in northern France, managed to convince only 17 of the 17,500 residents to go back home, even with an offer to arrange and pay for the journey. It has now been wound up.

The campaign, entitled "Dignity or Exploitation – The Choice is in Your Hands", featured a video of the hardships of life in Britain and the dangers of trying to cross the Channel. Posters and pamphlets were distributed around the hostel in Calais with the same message.

The Home Office gave €213,000 (£140,000) towards the programme. The International Organisation on Migration (IOM), which ran it, was prepared to use the funds to transport asylum- seekers all the way to their home towns.

An IOM spokesman said: "It has not been an incredible success. These people have spent a lot of money getting to Sangatte. They have taken a lot of risks and are tantalisingly close."

Asylum-seekers were advised that "working illegally in the UK often leads to exploitation in the form of forced prostitution or labour, debt bondage, domestic slavery or begging".

Only 15 men, one woman and a five-year-old girl, were signed up for the programme, which began in the summer. They were made up of five Iranians, three Angolans, two Romanians, two Albanians, a Pole, a Pakistani, a Moroccan, a Ukrainian and a Lithuanian.

The Australian government has employed even more extreme tactics to discourage unwanted asylum-seekers. It has compiled a video that warns of sharks and crocodiles.

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