This play tells the stories of five individuals seeking asylum in the UK: Zakariya from Darfur; Destin from the Republic of Congo; Jalal from Iraq; Parvaneh from Iran and Marie-Elena from Colombia. Each has been forced to flee their homeland in the face of death, each is haunted in a different way by the past. Finding themselves in situations that veer between the comic and the tragic, they try to make sense of the British way of life. “Scars are like medals. They show we have taken part in the life.” Inspired by the real-life testimony of people who have sought refuge in the UK, Crocodile Seeking Refuge is an incisive look at the asylum stories behind the headlines.
In 1997 Sonja Linden set up the Write to Life Project at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, a creative and testimonial writing programme to enable survivors of torture and persecution to process their ‘heart of darkness’ experiences through the medium of writing. Real-life testimony therefore was the catalyst for Crocodile Seeking Refuge. Working with five individuals as part of the Write to Life project, the play was developed for three years. Pierre Junior N’Khiembet, a torture victim from the Republic of Congo, whose treatment in this country was a major, traumatising factor. Nasrin Parvaz from Iran, Doctor Qasim Albrisem from Iraq, Aziz Idris and later Sharif Barko from Sudan and Maritza Jubelly from Colombia. Many of the encounters in the final version of the play have been invented, but the back stories of what happened to each of the five characters and how they have been treated by the British asylum system are entirely accurate.