U.K. contractors slammed for moves ID'ing asylum-seekers

A screengrab shows an asylum-seeker in Cardiff, Wales showing the camera his red wristband, which he was told to wear by a government contractor providing food and housing for refugees, Jan. 25, 2016.

Sky News

LONDON -- A private company that required asylum-seekers to wear red wristbands says it has dropped the practice after facing heavy criticism.

A statement from Clearsprings Ready Homes said it has decided to end the practice Monday. The policy had come under fire from legislators who warned it singled migrants out for possible harassment and abuse.

It affected asylum-seekers in Cardiff, Wales, who are being sheltered by Clearsprings Ready Homes, a company contracted by the British government to provide food and shelter.

Lawmakers and others had criticized the policy as unfair.

Some migrants have said wearing the wristbands has exposed them to abuse from local residents, while one local advocacy group said it drew parallels to the Nazis' treatment of Jews.

"We raised the matter many times with the Welsh Government," Welch Refugee Council policy officer Hannah Wharf told CBS News partner network Sky News. "It harks back to the Nazi regime with people being forced to wear a Star of David and stand out."

Questions about the policy follows news last week that some migrants elsewhere in Britain had had their doors painted red, making them targets for vandalism and racial abuse.

Sky News reported that many of the homes with red doors had stones and eggs thrown at windows, and in some cases feces was smeared on the buildings or symbols of the anti-immigrant group National Front scratched into the wood.

The contractor in Wales said there was never any intention to put asylum-seekers at risk, and that the wristbands were merely meant to identify the immigrants as eligible for free meals.

In the northeast English city of Middlesbrough, where the doors were painted red, the contracting company behind the move said it was not their policy to paint asylum-seekers' doors all the same color, indicating it was just down to chance.

"We think this has been blown out of all proportion but we are responding to it," said Stuart Monk of the "urban regeneration" firm Jomast. "We are going to repaint the doors."