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     Volume 4 Issue 22 | November 26, 2004 |

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The most common reason for people coming to Britain is to seek asylum. In 2001, for example, the UK received 71,365 applications for asylum. The main countries of origin were Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Read the extract taken from Albino Ochero-Okello's account of arriving in the UK as a Ugandan asylum seeker and think about these questions:
1. Who is speaking?
2. Who is he speaking to?
3. Where is he?
4. What is his problem?
5. How does he feel?
6. Where is his family?

Albino Ochero-Okello

After everyone else had been interviewed and cleared by the immigration officer, our turn came. The immigration officer called us to the interview room. He was a young white gentleman. He was helpful and understanding. He was human in his work. It did not take him very long to realise that I was traumatised and he seemed sympathetic. I was unable to tell the immigration officer much about what had forced me to flee my country. The feelings and the pains of what I'd experienced at home were too much for me to bear.

Another thing that stopped me from telling all my problems to the immigration officer was that I felt he might be the eye of the government. Because of this, I felt withdrawn and insecure, anxious unless I emptied my heart to somebody who would betray me. Such mixed feelings are felt by many refugees when they first arrive abroad seeking political asylum. Not even afterwards, when I was given leave to remain, did I feel comfortable talking about it.

During the interview, the immigration officer asked me for my personal details. I gave them to him. He then asked for the details of my immediate family members, my wife and children. Again I gave them to him. Then he asked for details of my other relatives, my father, mother, brothers and/or sisters or of any other dependants. Again I gave them to him.

When this was done, the immigration officer asked me, 'Why have you come to the UK?' I replied, 'To seek political asylum.' Then I explained to him in brief why I had fled my country, Uganda.

I told him about the vicious problem of the political situation in Uganda whenever there is a change of regime. I explained, 'In Uganda, when the leader comes from your tribe, it may sound like a good thing. But in reality, you are in serious trouble when he is kicked out of power. It has become customary in Uganda that, when a ruler is kicked out, all the people who belong to his tribe and those of other tribes who were associated with his regime are held liable for the sufferings that other Ugandans are alleged to have experienced during his time in power. The vicious cycle of punishing the tribe-mates of deposed rulers for the sins committed under the ruler's regimes started when Idi Amin burst on to the arena of politics on 25 January 1971. Milton Obote, the president he overthrew in a bloody military coup his tribe-mates suffered a lot. When Idi Amin's turn came and he too was deposed, his tribe-mates suffered the same fate, and the same happened after Obote's second presidency in May 1985 and General Tito Okello's military junta on 25 January 1986.'

When I told the immigration officer this, he sighed. 'Oh, I see. Is that how politics works in your country?'

'Yes. But I think similar things are probably happening in other parts of Africa too, ' I answered.

'It sounds terrifying,' the immigration officer said. He then asked me, 'Can you tell me precisely why your life is in danger? Be more specific.' So I told the immigration officer my role in the politics of Uganda. I told him that I had been branch chairman of the political party of the civilian government that was overthrown by the military junta in May 1985. I told him that being in such a position at that time had put my life under constant threat. As I started to tell the immigration officer my story, tears began to roll from my eyes. The memory of what had happened to me and to my parents at home triggered this. The whole episode of what had happened at home started to come alive in my mind. I felt a big lump come into my throat but I swallowed it.

The worst memory was reliving the way my elderly, partially blind father was stripped naked by the so-called Karamojong cattle-raiders. They stripped my half-sister Maria too, and then shot her dead in front of him, before driving off with his 400 head of cattle. The thought of the fate of my family, the wife and three children that I had left behind, increased my grief. I thought about my daughter Gloria, who had been very unwell when I left, and whom I did not expect to live for very long.

With all these memories flooding back into my mind during the interview, I found it too much to say anything any more. I just sat there, my face looking down at the table and the tears rolling down my cheeks like a river.

It was impossible to continue with my story. I could not do it because of the lump in my throat. I felt like a dead person.

Albino Ochero-Okello is now a case worker with the Red Cross, living with his family in Middlesex, in the UK.

Now put these events in the chronological order that they happened, be careful they are not necessarily the same order as they appear in the text!

a. Amin staged a violent coup in Uganda.
b. The writer started to cry.
c. The writer starts to tell the officer about the situation in Uganda.
d. It was the writer's turn to speak to the immigration officer.
e. Okello's government was thrown out.
f. The immigration officer asked the writer a lot of questions.
g. The writer stops talking.
h. The writer was allowed to stay in the UK.
i. Amin was deposed in a violent coup.
j. The writer talks about his own life in Uganda.
k. The writer was a member of the government party.
l. The writer's half-sister was murdered.
m. They went into an interview room.
n. The writer was worried about talking to the immigration officer.
o. The writer worries about his family.

Vocabulary 1: adjectives of personality
A) Look at these descriptions and try to remember if they apply to the writer or the immigration officer

1. anxious 2. comfortable 3. helpful
4. insecure 5. sympathetic 6. understanding
7. traumatised 8. very human 9. withdrawn
Immigration officer

B) Use a different form of the word in the brackets to complete these sentences.

a. She was suffering from (anxious) __________ and panic attacks.
b. I see your problem and I can really (sympathetic) _________ with it.
c. There's too much work to do on this course. I'm afraid I'll have to (withdrawn) __________ from it.
d. I only have a short contract I don't have any job (insecure) __________ .
e. It's a (comfortable) __________ thought to know that I'll be rich when I'm older!

Vocabulary 2: related words
Put one of the words from the box into the right place in the sentences below

1) asylum 2) deportation 3) emigration 4) immigrant 5) immigration 6) migrant 7) permit 8) refugee 9) seeker 10) visa

a. A __________ is a document that you need in addition to a passport to have the permission to enter some countries.
b. A work __________ is an official document you need to get a job in a country which you are not a citizen of.
c. If you are found to be resident in a country without citizenship rights or the necessary documents, you might get a __________ order.
d. An illegal __________ is a person who enters a country without having the necessary documents to do so.
e. An economic __________ is a person who travels to another country in order to look for work there.
f. __________ is when you leave your native country to go to another country with the intention to stay for a long time there.
g. An asylum __________ is someone who enters a country and asks to stay there because they say that they are not safe in their own country.
h. _________ is the process in which people come into a country and start to live there.
i. Some people ask for political __________ if they have been persecuted in their own countries due to their beliefs or ideas.
j. A __________ is someone who is escaping from a war zone.

Complete this table with the right forms of the words, then check with a dictionary.

Vocabulary 3: Idioms
Look at these idioms from the text. Which are formal,
which informal and which neutral? Write f, i or n.

1. too much to bear     5. tears began to roll
2. empty my heart       6. burst on to
3. give leave to          7. kicked out
4. held liable for

Events order: a, I, k, e, d, m, n, f, c, I, o, g, b, h.
Vocab 1a: Writer 1, 4, 7, and 9.
Vocab 1b: a) anxiety, b) sympathise c) withdraw, d) security e) comfortingVocab 2: a-10, b-7, c-2, d-4, e-6, f-3, g-9, h-5, i-1, j-8,
Vocab 3: 1, 3 & 4 - f. 2 - n. 5, 6 & 7 - i

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