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Fire safety warning repeatedly ignored in UK housing for immigrants

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Mo Tuccu, a British national from Eritrea, was visiting friends at Grenfell Tower with his wife Amal Ahmedin and three-year-old daughter Amaya.

 Artist Khadija Saye, 24, also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, whose photo series – “Dwelling: In This Space We Breath” – is being shown in the Venice Biennale, lived on the 20th floor with her mother, Mary Mendy, from the Gambia.

 Omar Belkadi and his wife, Farah Hamdan, are unaccounted for, as well as their six-month-old baby, Leena.

 What these victims of the horrific fire at the 24-story Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, England, had in common was their ancestry in Africa. They emigrated for better lives, but landed in public housing where safety issues for low to moderate income tenants in the upscale Kensington neighborhood were routinely ignored.

 A criminal investigation is now underway of the company which managed Grenfell Tower and the contractors who carried out recent renovations. Member of Parliament David Lammy is seeking prosecutions for corporate manslaughter. The latest fire victims count is 79.

 Local area news media have been filling pages with stories of the problem-filled building. Repeatedly, the Grenfell Action Group, a tenant group, was flagging such issues as dangerous power surges and the non-working emergency lighting system, which was supposed to activate in the event of a fire.

“We now know the building had just one external stairway – no central alarm or sprinkler systems and was clad in a combustible material,” wrote Henry Porter in the UK’s Vanity Fair. “The tenants were essentially living in a highly inflammable firetrap, one in which mass evacuation was impossible, as was evidenced when a few of victims filmed their last moments with their phones.”

 “Authorities appeared to have ignored multiple warnings, simply because they knew the tenants were powerless to do anything,” Porter wrote. “But if the complaints and warnings had been made by tenants in any of the wealthier areas of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, something would have been done.”

 Families left homeless from Grenfell will receive approximately $7,000 (US) after an earlier offer to give each one $12 for daily expenses sparked fury. Discretionary payments will be made from an emergency fund to meet funeral costs of the victims.

 Speaking at a recent press interview, MP Lammy fought back tears as he remembered his friend Khadija Saye. “This is a tale of two cities,” he said emotionally. “This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.” w/pix of MP David Lammy and Grenfell Tower

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