Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Migrant ‘tried to kill himself’ after plans to move him onto Bibby barge

A 23-year-old man tried to take his own life in a car park after being told he was being transferred to the Bibby Stockholm migrant barge.

An air ambulance attended the scene and the Nigerian national was taken to hospital where he remains in critical condition, the RAMA and One Life to Live charities have said.

The incident happened on October 26 after the man was told he was being transferred from an Essex hotel to the large barge in Dorset being used by the Home Office to house asylum seekers.

He left the hotel and went to a car park where he tried to take his life. He was found alive but in a bad state by another asylum seeker.

The 23-year-old arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child and lived in foster care until the age of 18.

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The charity Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (RAMA) said eight other asylum seekers at the hotel are due to be transferred to the Bibby Stockholm, too.

Maria Wilby, operational lead at RAMA, said: “There are 114 asylum-seekers at the hotel and a very high number of them have wounds from self-harm. Ten of them have been on hunger strike because the food is so poor, people are losing significant amounts of weight.

“There have also been six occasions in the past year, when our staff have had to talk people down because they planned to take their own lives. The last time was just two weeks ago.”

Wilby added: “They are grieving the fact that the Home Office is closing the hotel down. While it may not be perfect, it’s been their home for up to a year. They’ve planted trees in Colchester, attended therapy here, volunteered here, made friends here.

“They are no problem to anyone; local police have confirmed there have been no criminal incidents arising either from the men at the hotel or from other asylum-seekers dispersed in the community. And yet they’ve been treated in a way that is beyond inhumane, and which disregards all the efforts which they have made to find community here.

“This suicide attempt is the strongest possible protest against that inhumanity, and also shows just how much the Bibby Stockholm is feared.”

Nicola David, of One Life To Live, has raised concerns about the Bibby Stockholm, including the fire risks, the cost and the re-traumatising effect of placing asylum-seekers on water.

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She said: “This has been a horrific incident – a tragedy which was entirely preventable. Before Covid, asylum-seekers lived among us in the community. Now, they are ‘othered’: segregated away into ghettoes and deprived of respect and dignity. It never ceases to amaze me that major hotel brands and their franchisees are willing to take the government shilling and turn the other cheek to what goes on in their properties.

“Here is a young man, with his whole life ahead of him, who was treated as a number and not a human being, and for whom the prospect of the Bibby Stockholm was simply too much. The Home Office should feel deep shame – if it knows how.”

The Home Office were not willing to comment on this individual case but made it clear that staff are trained and steps are taken to ensure the safety of residents.

A spokesperson said: “The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains the utmost priority. We work continually to ensure the needs and vulnerabilities of those residing in asylum accommodation are identified and considered, including those related to mental health and trauma. Residents are provided with ample support to understand any changes in accommodation, including access to staff and mental health support.”

The Samaritans can be reached round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call them on the phone. You can reach them by calling 116 123, by emailing [email protected] or by visiting www.samaritans.org.

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