Mohammed Idris and his family had to leave their home for their own safety
after a brick was thrown through their window in a racist attack
Being the victim of any racist attack is traumatic enough in its own right but for two Sudanese families living in Northern Ireland further prolonged suffering was to follow.
Mohammed Idris, his wife and two children were living in the Tigers Bay area of north Belfast when, on their son’s second birthday, a brick was smashed through their living room window in the early hours of the morning in a violent racist attack. “We were in bed. It was around 2am when we were all woken up with a loud smash,” said Mr Idris.
Recalling that “my son didn’t want to go out and play with children as normal and my wife was scared to stay there,” Mr Idris and his family were left with little choice but to pack up their things and remove themselves from danger. “If we stayed there, we put ourselves at risk. Even on the day we come to move our furniture we couldn’t until the police protect us,” said the father of two.
Mr Idris and his family were not the only immigrant family to suffer such an attack. Abdel Muhammed and Amira Saleh, who was heavily pregnant at the time and due to give birth in two days, suffered a similar attack and were also made to feel unsafe in their home.
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive provided both families with hostel accommodation but, ten months on, and tired of the insecurity and discomfort that comes with living in temporary accommodation, the families are desperate for a place that they can call home. Whilst the Housing Executive does have a points system in place to prioritise urgent cases of rehousing – which both families should fall into – it has done little to help these two families.
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “Following both families’ presenting as homeless to the Housing Executive a thorough investigation and assessment of their respective cases was undertaken […] In both instances it was concluded the reason for presentation as homeless was ‘neighbourhood harassment.’” The reason given by the spokesperson for the families remaining unhoused for so long is that there is a shortage of housing. "The families were placed on the waiting list for their areas of choice. Unfortunately, in both cases the areas of choice are of high demand with a low turnover of properties,” said the spokeswoman.
That any family should have to suffer such a frightening attack is punishing and traumatic enough without them then having to endure homelessness for almost a year.