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Over 100 asylum seekers have died in Home Office housing since 2016 – The Justice Gap
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
August 14 2022
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Over 100 asylum seekers have died in Home Office housing since 2016

Over 100 asylum seekers have died in Home Office housing since 2016

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At least 107 asylum seekers have died while living in housing provided by the Home Office, far more than originally admitted by the government. An investigation by Liberty Investigates and the Observer has found that dozens of vulnerable asylum seekers, many of whom were flagged as having a ‘safeguarding element’ (indicating a health issue or other vulnerability) died between April 2016 and March 2022.

According to the Home Office’s records, at least 17 of these individuals died by suicide. Deaths of people being housed by the Home Office while their asylum applications are processed have steadily risen over the period in question, increasing from four in 2019 to 36 in 2020 and 40 in 2021.

The deaths examined as part of this investigation include that of a 23-year-old Iranian man, Shayan Zal Dehnavi, who was placed in a hotel run by Serco in Leicester. Soon after arriving he was stabbed in an apparently random attack near the hotel, which friends say contributed to a mental health crisis. Despite appearing distressed and declining further support, no attempt was made to move Shayan to accommodation in the community, which is recommended under Home Office guidelines. On September 7, 2020, he was found hanging in his room.

An asylum seeker from Ivory Coast who had been a victim of torture requested help for constant pain, but none was given. After 38 days in a hotel run by a Home Office contractor he died from cardiac arrest.

Stuart MacDonald, an MP and SNP Shadow Home Affairs Spokesperson has called for the Home Office to regularly publish figures on deaths in asylum seeker accommodation in response to this investigation. He said ‘the fact that so many vulnerable people are losing their lives while supposedly in the care of the Home Office is scandalous – and it is essential for there to be transparency and accountability about why this is happening.

‘What is also deeply troubling is that the huge increase in deaths coincides with significantly increased use of institutional accommodation instead of community housing. Yet this is precisely the model that the UK government is seeking to move towards, alongside its appalling Rwanda plans.’