`People seeking refuge are literally thrown to the wolves’
2nd December 2010: UK asylum policy kills — at least this is what some of the organisations working for the welfare of the refugees and asylum seekers indicate.
In an attempt to substantiate their assertion, they quote the example of not only Jimmy Mubenga, but deaths of 77 asylum seekers and migrants “that have resulted one way or another from UK asylum policies”.
Claiming that the asylum policies dehumanise those coming to the UK for refuge, they add people in need of protection are thrown to the “wolves”.
Raising the issue, editor at the Institute of Race Relations by Harmit Atwal in his guest post in Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says: “The state is in many ways responsible for these deaths, for UK foreign policy cannot be seen in isolation.
“The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are creating the asylum seekers that are washing up on our shores. Resource wars in African countries, fought by multinationals, are creating asylum seekers and migrants who are fleeing to the supposed safety of the West.
“The British government has a responsibility to those that come to the UK seeking refuge which it refuses to shoulder. Instead it literally throws people to the wolves or throws vulnerable terrified people onto their own resources when they have hit rock bottom and their wits end. They have no way out except suicide”.
Referring to the IRR’s report `Driven to Desperate Measures: 2006-2010’, he says it documents the deaths of 77 asylum seekers and migrants that have resulted one way or another from UK asylum policies.
`Asylum policies dehumanise those who come to the UK seeking refuge. Once here such asylum seekers are then vilified in the popular media as scroungers and economic migrants and then, finally, they are, through government policies, forced in to destitution.
`The report details the 36 suicides in detention, removal centres and prisons, and the suicides in the community – of those who have self-harmed after being left destitute or after receiving an adverse decision on their claim.
`Self-harm in removal centres and prisons is on the increase and such attempts are often documented by the authorities in charge. However, it is the deaths that occur in the community that are of most concern.
`The 28 deaths that the IRR documented are probably a gross under-estimate, for information on such deaths is usually very hard to come by – either gleaned from news reports or from information supplied by individuals and groups working with asylum seekers.
`Furthermore, a recent Freedom of Information request made by the IRR on the number of deaths in NASS-provided accommodation produced a list of deaths by nationalities and, when matched with our cases, we found that many were not known to us, which shows that the number of deaths is far higher than that so far recorded by the IRR’.