Quarter of genocide survivors living in UK 'abused'

Candles commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day Image copyright PA
Image caption A chancellor lights one of 600 candles in the shape of the Star of David to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day at York Minster

More than a quarter of survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides have experienced discrimination or abuse while living in the UK, research shows.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said 27% of survivors had been targeted because of their religion or ethnicity.

Their family members were even more likely to be affected, with 38% saying they had been abused.

The trust polled 208 survivors of the Holocaust and Rwandan, Cambodian and Bosnian genocides, and 173 relatives.

The research was released ahead of an annual event in central London marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

It showed nearly three-quarters (72%) of survivors said they felt "very" or "fairly welcome" when they arrived in Britain.

'Broken in spirit'

About half (52%) said they waited more than 20 years before talking about their experiences.

Most said they did so to help more people understand what happened.

Holocaust survivor, Joan Salter, was a three-month-old baby when Belgium was invaded by the Nazis.

Her father was deported and her mother imprisoned.

In 1943, Ms Salter was put on a boat by the Red Cross and sent to live with a foster family in the United States.

She was reunited with her parents in London two years after World War Two had ended.

"It was anything but a fairytale ending though - both my parents were severely traumatised by what they'd experienced, broken in health, spirit and mind.

"Everyone deals with these things in their own ways. My mother was never able to talk about what had happened to her, it was just too painful."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Memory quilts have been made by the children and grandchildren of orphaned child survivors of the Holocaust

Chief executive of the holocaust trust, Olivia Marks-Woldman, said the current persecution served as a "valuable reminder of how vital Holocaust Memorial Day is".

"It's shocking to think that these individuals, having survived some of the very worst acts in human history, have experienced hatred and discrimination on the streets of the country that is now their refuge," she added.

Despite more than a quarter of the survivors saying they still think about their experiences daily, 40% said their experiences had made them appreciate life more.

Ms Marks-Woldman said experiences were still "very raw" but that survivors were determined to share their stories to help tackle intolerance and prejudice.

The time it has taken people to talk about their holocaust experience suggests those who survived Rwanda and Bosnia genocides may now start to come forward, she added.

"We must all make sure we play our part in supporting them in sharing those stories, and acknowledging the terrible threats that discrimination can pose for our societies. We cannot allow hatred to take hold."

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