Twenty nine asylum seekers have lost their lives in Home Office accommodation since the beginning of the year, five times the number who died on small boat crossings across the English Channel in the same period. The figure was obtained by the Guardian through a freedom of information request. The individual circumstances of death remain unclear and have not been made public.
One of the most publicised deaths was that of Yemeni-national Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah Alhabib, 41, who was found unresponsive in the Manchester hotel room the Home Office had placed him in. He was declared dead on arrival in August. His cause of death is still under investigation and is yet to be confirmed. Alhabib had been in the UK for less than three months, having arrived after crossing the Channel with 15 others in a flimsy boat.
A friend, an asylum seeker who travelled with him on the same dingy, spoke of Alhabib being anxious about potentially being deported back to Yemen via one of the European countries he had travelled through. The Home Office has continued commissioning charter flights throughout the pandemic, with the latest, a controversial flight to Jamaica, leaving earlier this month.
The founder of the Care4Calais charity, Clare Moseley, told the Guardian it was ‘shameful that more refugees die here in the UK, in Home Office accommodation, than do so in Calais or trying to cross the Channel…the way we treat them in this country is cruel’.