The UK Guardian reported on Sunday, October 29, 2023, that a 23-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker attempted suicide in an Essex hotel parking lot after learning that he would be transferred to the Bibby Stockholm barge.
Bibby Stockholm is a docked accommodation barge in Portland, Dorset.
It was used for homeless people in Hamburg, Germany, from 1994 and 1998. In 2005, the Netherlands used it to imprison asylum seekers in Rotterdam.
The UK government announced plans to utilise the barge as refugee seeker homes in 2023.
According to the article, the Nigerian national was taken to hospital and placed on life support on Thursday, October 26, 2023, two days after being assured he would be transported.
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Refugee Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (Rama) stated the man returned to his hotel, which the Home Office uses to house asylum seekers, around 6 p.m.
He noticed that his hotel room number had been recorded on a whiteboard in the hotel reception area as one of the numbers scheduled to move to the barge on Tuesday, October 31.
When he discovered he was on the list, he walked outdoors and attempted suicide. An asylum seeker who heard the man in distress discovered him alive but in poor condition.
He was flown by air ambulance to Colchester General Hospital, where he is now in critical condition.
Asylum seekers placed aboard the barge in August warned that conditions onboard the Bibby Stockholm had pushed one individual to try suicide before everyone was removed owing to the finding of Legionella bacteria. On October 19, a small group of asylum seekers returned to the barge despite objections by local activists and Stop Oil.
The Nigerian man arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied asylum seeker youngster and was raised in foster care until the age of 18. Rama is assisting the man and others in the hotel and at other Essex lodging facilities.
The Guardian has confirmed two other recent deaths of asylum seekers at hotels, both of which are believed to be suicides.
According to Rama, eight asylum applicants in the hotel are scheduled to join the barge on Tuesday.
“There are 114 asylum seekers at the hotel, and a very high number of them have wounds from self-harm,” Maria Wilby, Rama’s operational lead, said. Ten of them have gone on hunger strike because the food is so bad. People are shedding considerable amounts of weight,”
“There have also been six occasions in the last year, since the hotel opened in November 2022, when our staff, volunteers and colleagues have had to talk people down from the A12 flyover, from which they planned to jump and take their own lives.” The last time was only two weeks ago.”
The act has apparently caused significant distress among the asylum seekers, personnel, and security guards.
The hotel is set to close soon as part of Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick’s proposal to close an initial 50 hotels by the end of January, as revealed in the House of Commons on October 24.
“The asylum seekers are mourning the fact that the Home Office is closing the hotel,” Wilby remarked. While it isn’t flawless, it has been their home for up to a year. This suicide attempt is the most vigorous conceivable protest against that inhumanity, and it also demonstrates how greatly the Bibby Stockholm is dreaded.”
“This is a horrific incident – a tragedy that was entirely preventable,” said Nicola David of One Life To Live, which advocates against improper lodging for asylum seekers and has raised numerous concerns about the Bibby Stockholm.
“Is there any part of the ‘ stop the boats’ campaign that is working?” The fact that the Bibby Stockholm is proving to be a deterrent.
“However, rather than preventing people from crossing the Channel, asylum seekers already here are choosing to commit suicide rather than being sent to the barge.” It’s undoubtedly a deterrence, albeit a horribly, deeply cruel and disgusting one.
“The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains our top priority,” a representative for the Home Office stated. We strive constantly to identify and address the needs and vulnerabilities of persons living in asylum accommodation, especially those connected to mental health and trauma.
“Residents are provided with ample support to understand any changes in accommodation, including access to staff and mental health support.”