Monday, 25 Jan 2021

Refugee says life in hull 'is same as in Iraq' as she struggles to get a home

A woman who survived war in Iraq and Syria has said that life in Hull is the same as her home country.

Intesar Hassan, 55, was moved to the city by the UN in 2012 but has since become bed-bound after health troubles she says were exacerbated by living in squalor.

Most of her relatives were killed in Iraq, causing her to flee to Syria where they were given food and shelter.

However, when war broke out there, they were moved to Hull as their lives were in danger. But the tranquillity she hoped to find there has not come forward.

Intesar said: ‘When I think about Iraq and Hull, they are the same to me. When I came here my health conditions worsened and are getting worse day by day in this house.

‘I cannot walk, talk or eat due to the conditions I am living in. All night long I worry about the house.

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

She added that she complained about how cold the house is soon after moving in eight years ago.

She said: ‘I told them that the house is freezing but they didn’t do anything. We have no heating and no maintenance work has been done on the house in the past eight years.

‘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, her landlord said the house was ‘immaculate’ when they arrived and the tenants had denied access for maintenance workers to assess the mold since 2017.

Hull City Council said its environmental health team had also been denied access.

Wheelchair user Intesar said: ‘Due to forcing myself up and down the stairs in this house I developed a hernia and piles problem, which in turn forced me to need to facilitate the bathroom more often.

‘To make matters worse I went on to develop a breathing problem which the GP has said is an allergic reaction to the damp in the house.’

Their housing benefit, which is paid directly to the landlord, was cut and no longer covers the full rent, leaving them in £5,000 in arrears.

Intesar said: ‘I am a disabled woman. If we are removed from the property where can we go? Is this worse than Syria? We were brought here to a safe and legal country but everywhere I go I am turned away. This house is unsafe.

‘We thought we would be protected but we have instead been exposed to more hostility.

‘As an ill woman I can’t go out and enjoy life, but inside the house my life is even more miserable. I’d prefer to die but my worry is what would happen to my children.’

The landlord said he had been told by the family that they would be cone by the end of the month.

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