Restaurant sends incredible Syrian-style Christmas banquet to Penally asylum camp only for security guards to confiscate it

22 December 2020@ Wales Online: Volunteers wanted to spread some Christmas cheer to the asylum seekers inside but guards ‘cruelly’ took the food away mid-way through their meal

An Aberystwyth restaurant sent a Syrian-style Christmas spread to the Penally asylum camp only for it to be confiscated by security guards (Image: Dinah Mulholland/Mark Lewis)

A celebratory spread of Syrian food was delivered to asylum seekers in the controversial  Pembrokeshire  asylum camp, only for security guards to confiscate the meal, it’s been claimed.

A group of volunteers were desperate to spread a little Christmas cheer to the men staying at the Penally asylum camp after numerous stories of the “prison-type conditions” and sub-standard food inside the camp gates.

With the help of an Aberystwyth restaurant, volunteers whipped up plates of authentic Syrian delicacies, all homemade and made with extra care to ensure the cooking was done in a Covid-compliant way.

Then on Sunday, December 20, Unite Swansea Services and Energy Branch delivered the nutritious food to the camp. Despite Wales being in a level four lockdown, aid is allowed to be delivered on humanitarian grounds.

There was an NGO worker with a UN aid worker badge accompanying the delivery, the group said.

But on arrival at the premises, on the outskirts of Tenby, they were forbidden to enter and were forced to pass food through the perimeter gates instead, despite arrangements in place to provide aid to the 230-odd men inside.

Yet even this was “cruelly” taken away from the men’s hands as they sat down together to eat it.

The initiative, led by Dinah Mulholland, said they got food to the men “by hook and by crook” only to discover hours later it had been confiscated by the security guards on site because it couldn’t be guaranteed that the food had been prepared in a Covid-secure environment.

Dinah Mulholland said: “These men have had to contend with prison-type conditions with little opportunity to social distance, shortage of masks, lack of nutritious food, abuse from the far right, desperate anxiety about their futures, lack of health care, all on top of PTSD.

“We had a heck of a job getting the food through the gates but by hook and by crook we did it, and thank goodness because if anyone deserves this meal, they do.”

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