WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 23 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Bibby Stockholm Transfer Causes Suicide Attempt

Bibby Stockholm Transfer Causes Suicide Attempt

An asylum seeker attempted suicide this week after discovering his imminent transfer to the Bibby Stockholm barge.

The individual, a twenty-three year old Nigerian national, arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied child seeking asylum and lived in foster care until the age of eighteen. Upon discovering his impending transfer, he immediately left his hotel accommodation and attempted to take his own life. He was airlifted to Colchester General Hospital where he remains on life support.

Operational lead at Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (‘Rama’), Maria Wilby, has described the recent suicide attempt by Nigerian asylum seeker as ‘the strongest possible protest’ against the closure of hotels and transfer of migrants to the Bibby Stockholm – arguing that this recent tragedy ‘shows just how much the Bibby Stockholm is feared.’

In an open letter published by the Guardian in September, asylum seekers previously housed on the Bibby Stockholm warned of the severe toll that the experience took on their psychological wellbeing. They reported that one individual attempted suicide prior to the discovery of Legionella in the water system. Two more recent suicides of asylum seekers in hotels have also been confirmed. One migrant told the Guardian, ‘We are treated in such a way that we despair and wish for death’.

The government’s plan to house 500 migrants aboard the Bibby Stockholm barge, moored in Portland, was publicised in April of this year as part of a wider scheme to tackle illegal immigration. It has been the subject of human rights campaigns and legal action, focussed on its safety and living conditions, as previously reported by the Justice Gap. Shortly after opening, it had been forced to close after the discovery of potentially-fatal legionella in the water system. Amnesty International, quoted by the BBC, has described the barge’s conditions as ‘utterly shameful’.

Two months on from the legionella evacuation, a small cohort of asylum seekers have been returned to the Bibby Stockholm this month, with many more planned to follow. This comes after the Home Office reported that all necessary tests regarding health, fire and water safety have been successfully completed. In line with this, immigration minister Robert Jenrick plans to close fifty hotels currently housing asylum seekers by January of this year – a decision greatly contested by charities such as Rama and One Life to Live.