Government minister Sajid Javid condemned last week’s attack on a 17-year-old asylum seeker in Croydon last week as he visited the borough this morning.
So far 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Kurdish-Iranian teenager Reker Ahmed, with 14 of those facing charges including violent disorder and racially aggravated grievous bodily harm.
Mr Ahmed, who was left with a fractured skull and spine and a blood clot on his brain, is currently in a serious condition but is expected to recover from his injuries.
Mr Javid, secretary of state for communities and local government, said: “This young man came here seeking refuge and on Friday night he got the exact opposite of that.
“It is unacceptable, and this attack does not represent Britain or Croydon in any way.
“We must do everything we can to apprehend those responsible for this appalling, unacceptable crime.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of Croydon Council, met with Mr Javid, Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central and Kurdish community leader Ibrahim Dogus this morning.
During the visit, councillor Newman detailed the borough’s close working relationship with the Home Office, whose immigration screening centre on Wellesley Road is where all asylum applications are first processed.
As a gateway borough, Croydon takes in large numbers of unaccompanied young asylum seekers and refugees.
At any one time the council typically has between 400 and 450 unaccompanied asylum seeking children in its care, most of whom are placed with foster parents.
A dispersal scheme which has been in place since last summer sees Croydon provide initial support to new arrivals before efforts are made to place them with other authorities around the UK.
Councillor Newman said: “Our thoughts remain with the victim of this attack and his friends who were also affected.
“Croydon is proud of its diverse community and vile and cowardly attacks of this nature are extremely rare.
“The vast majority of young asylum seekers have been welcomed into the borough and into our community, which was recently seen when hundreds of children were cheered and applauded on their arrival at the Home Office from the Calais Jungle last year.
“The sense of community in Croydon is what attracts people to our borough and we will not allow the awful, isolated actions of a minority define Croydon.”