51 refugee deaths in UK detention centres

Demonstration outside the Napier Barracks near Folkestone which is being used to incarcerate refugees – 51 refugees have died whilst being held in such centres

THERE has been a sharp increase in the deaths of refugees in detention centres in the UK in the last 18 months. More than 50 people have died in Home Office asylum seeker accommodation in the last five years, new figures show.

Three babies are recorded to have died, as well as three people from Covid and four who killed themselves. Some of the deaths were because of health conditions such as heart problems, cancer or stroke.

The 51 deaths, recorded in Home Office data and provided through a freedom of information request, date back to April 2016 with the most recent documented in June 2021. The causes of 31 of the 51 deaths, however, remain unconfirmed.

There are about 60,000 people in Home Office accommodation, where the average age is considerably younger than the general population.

The names of many who died are not publicly known, but some which have come to light include Mohamed Camera, 27, from Ivory Coast who was found dead in his north London hotel room on 9th November 2020; and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah Alhabib, 41, from Yemen, found dead in his Manchester hotel room on 6th August last year.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, said: ‘Enforced poverty, unacceptable housing conditions and the constant threat of return to more abuse are pushing already traumatised people to the limit.

‘The high number of deaths of people under the care of this government must be investigated openly and thoroughly. The way we treat and house people who need our help is emblematic of who we are as a country.

‘Our message to Home Secretary Priti Patel and this government is clear: Stop playing politics with lives and deliver the compassionate asylum and immigration system you promised after the Windrush scandal.

‘Those who have died, and their loved ones, are owed that at the very least.’

Meanwhile, border officers are being pulled out of airports and relocated to the English Channel in a stepping up of the war against refugees desperate to cross the Channel in search of a better life in the UK.

Tory Home Secretary Patel ordered agents from Border Force to leave their posts at some of the busiest border gates in the UK for Kent, where they will process and detain refugees arriving by small boats.

Officers were being redeployed to Dover from airports including Heathrow and Gatwick as well as to the ports of Southampton, Portsmouth and Newhaven.

However, the Home Office move is now worsening the situation at airports, where queues for passport control have already been stretched to hours in length.

Heathrow Airport alone expects 60,000 passengers to depart each day – the highest number this year.

As many as one-in-ten Border Force staff have been forced to isolate at some airports after being pinged by the NHS app.

On Saturday, Heathrow arrivals at Terminal 2 were forced to wait for up to three hours to get through passport control after e-gates broke down and the pingdemic left just one official at the desks, according to frustrated passengers.