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Syrian family 'resilient enough' to face homelessness: UK council

The council said it was "under no duty" to provide them with accommodation [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 March, 2018

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London's Enfield Council told a Syrian family that they were resilient enough to face homelessness, after they were evicted from a privately-rented home.
A Syrian refugee family in London has been left homeless after the government refused to house them, noting they were "resilient" enough to deal with being homeless.

Muhamed and Rouzeh Shouesh, who with their two teenage daughters fled Syria for the UK in 2012, were evicted from their privately-rented property last week before resorting to Edmonton's local Enfield Council for assistance.

But the council refused them help as they didn't qualify as having "priority need" for housing. It said it was "under no duty" to provide them with accommodation, The Independent reported.

Enfield Council is "not satisfied" that the Shouesh family would suffer harm that makes a "noticeable difference to their ability to manage and cope with being homeless when compared to an ordinary person," a letter from the council stated.

"Looking at all the facts I believe you and your husband are resilient enough to manage a reasonable level of functionality and I am not satisfied that your ability to manage being homeless, even if that homelessness were to result in you having to sleep rough occasionally or in the longer term, would deteriorate to a level where the harm you are likely to experience would be outside the range of vulnerability that an ordinary person would experience if they were to be in the same situation as you," it said.

The four-member family is now being forced to live in a hotel after multiple attempts to rent privately failed to flourish.

The hotel owner in Muswell Hill is charging them half the price to assist their situation, however the family said it can no longer afford to live there.

I feel ashamed and appalled as a British person that we can say this to people who are refugees.

"The UK Government is good, they have helped us. But now we are refugees and have to stay on the streets. This would not happen in Syria, I don't understand how it can happen in London," Ms Souesh told The Independent.

"We are very stressed and worried about our family in Syria. My mum and dad both have cancer. And we are now homeless. We are without a house.

"All of this together puts us in a very bad situation. We are already stressed about the war, we have bad health, we are refugees."

Local charity worker Michael McGowan praised the family for the "right steps" they've taken to begin life in the UK, but said the government has let them down.

"This family has done the right thing since they've been here. The parents have got national insurance numbers and are trying to find work. They've done all they can to assist their children in getting to university," McGowan said.

"I feel ashamed and appalled as a British person that we can say this to people who are refugees."

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: "We will reassess this case if the family provide additional information. However, while we sympathise with the family's situation, with the information they have provided we have assessed that they do not have a priority need for housing under the Housing Act 1996.

"It would be unlawful and unfair to move them to the top of the housing waiting list, when other families have proved greater need."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said they did not comment on individual cases.

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