Government accused of downplaying toll after information requests reveal discrepancies
Ninety-five people have died in asylum accommodation since April 2016, almost double the figure recently admitted by the government, raising suspicions the Home Office has deliberately downplayed the death toll.
And the data reveals that in the past two years there has been a particularly sharp increase in the number of deaths of those housed under asylum support provisions, such as in hotels.
Deaths leapt from four in 2019 to 36 in 2020 – a ninefold increase – with a further 33 people in the first eight months of 2021, bringing total deaths since the start of 2020 to 69 people, according to freedom of information (FoI) requests by the investigative journalism organisation, Liberty Investigates.
Dr Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, called the figures “devastating” and urged an independent inquiry to establish why so many people in the state’s care were dying.
As recently as three months ago the Home Office said 51 people had died in its asylum accommodation, following FoI requests made by the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC). The new, much higher number has shocked experts and raised questions over the significant discrepancy in death tolls.
Updated 23 October 2021: In London today (see below). Tomorrow is Little Amal’s 10th birthday:
11:00 & 13:00 Victoria & Albert Museum Little Amal will attend a birthday party for young friends, including cake made by Yotam Ottolenghi! Book a free museum entry ticket for 11.00 or 13.00 to join her here
16:00 Trafalgar SquareAll of London are invited to join Boy Blue for this spectacular celebration of Amal, dance and hip hop in the iconic setting of Trafalgar Square. Expect high energy performance, an appearance from the birthday girl and some surprises along the way.
19:00 The Roundhouse, Camden: A one-off concert full of surprises and an extraordinary line-up will finish Amal’s birthday in epic style! Tickets available for purchase now here
Updated 22 October 2021: Big day tomorrow in London:
10:00St Paul’s CathedralAmal arrives weary at St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the London. The Great West Doors, the ceremonial doors of the Cathedral, will open wide allowing children from across London, members of St Paul’s community and other faith leaders to welcome Amal to the Cathedral. An unforgettable performance combining spoken word and music, directed by Phyllida Lloyd will then unfold around Amal! This event will be held outside the Cathedral and is open to all to attend.
13:00The Globe Theatre Watch as Little Amal meets the company of Twelfth Night in this iconic performance space
16:00The Southbank Centre Little Amal will attend Welcome Wishes, a special event in the London Literature Festival. Join her for interactive storytelling, aimed at spreading the message of global community and friendship contained in Swallow’s Kiss – a new novel written by Sita Brahmachari and illustrated by Jane Ray.
17:45National Theatre Singer-songwriter Juliana Yazbeck will perform a welcoming solo that will lead into the choir performing ‘I Am My Own Way Home’ from Pericles. Watch this performance on the Terraces from below with Little Amal.
19:00Somerset House Follow Little Amal into the beautiful courtyard, and form an audience for an original contemporary dance piece. Choreographed by Ruby Portus, this troupe is composed of the National Youth Dance Co and the Sadlers Wells Company of Elders, dancing to live music from Baque Luar.
Updated 20 October 2021: The Information Commissioners Office has commented recently about The Data Sharing Code of Practice, which is a statutory code made under section 121 of the Data Protection Act 2018 that was first published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in December 2020 and came into force on 5 October 2021 saying that “data sharing must engender trust in how personal data is used in order to drive innovation, economic growth and the delivery of more efficient and targeted services.
In the ICO’s view, data sharing will be central to the United Kingdom’s recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.”
Status Now notes that the absence of firewall between health and immigration data and the Government’s drive to implement its ‘status checking’ project undermines any potential for engendering trust.
Event in Coventry:Oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill: No to hostile environmentWednesday 20 October 2021, 13:30-14:30 Broadgate, Coventry, CV1 1, United Kingdom: Please join StatusNow signatory organisation CARAG – Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group and other Coventry local groups as we continue to oppose the anti-Refugee Bill. We will also remember Henok.
The Tories planned Nationalities and Borders Bill will make the mere act of seeking asylum illegal, contrary to the UN Convention on Refugees and Human Rights Acts. We say Refugees Welcome Here, No One Is Illegal! Come and join us to show your support for the right to asylum.
After fleeing his native Eritrea as a child and living for years as a refugee, Henok Zaid Gebrsslasie hoped to make a life for himself in the UK. Aged 23, he was found dead at a mental health facility in Coventry, West Midlands, and is thought to have taken his own life. His death is one of a growing number among young asylum seekers which a charity said could just be the “tip of the iceberg”.
Event: On Thursday 14th October 2021Register NowPeople & Planet is hosting a free online workshop with These Walls Must Fall about the companies that profit from UK immigration enforcement government contracts, many of which UK universities are also invested in. These Walls Must Fall campaigners will speak from personal experience about private companies’ behaviour in immigration detention, deportations and asylum housing.
The workshop is for students who want to action and start a Divest Borders campaign to get their universities to divest from the border industry – but it’s also open to all.
Albania’s foreign minister has furiously denied reports that migrants arriving the UK on small boats will be flown 1,500 miles to Albania to have their asylum claims processed, labelling the plans “fake news”.
3 October 2021: The flyer below was distributed outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester by members of Status Now
2 October 2021: Justice Secretary’s ‘open-mind’ suggestion needs Activation and Expansion
The Justice Secretary’s ‘open-mind’ about allowing asylum seekers to work while their claims are being processed needs activation and expansion. Dominic Raab, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, reportedly said that allowing asylum seekers to work would assist with integration and contribute to resolving the country’s labour shortages. His remarks are supported by some senior Tories which may indicate a growing recognition that the current law, banning people who seek asylum from being contracted in paid work while they wait for a Home Office decision, is morally and practically wrong. It is irrational that we have tens of thousands of residents in this country who can contribute to alleviating the current labour crisis but are denied the right to work and forced into years of unemployment and poverty while employers are desperate to fill job vacancies.
Harvey Wittika had been living and working in the UK for more than a decade before his status was revoked – he died alone in Glasgow just months later.
An organisation campaigning for the rights of migrants has called for an inquiry into the death of a man in Glasgow.
Harvey Wittika died after falling from the second floor of his flat building in Glasgow on August 6.
The 37-year-old from Malawi had been living in the city for around six months before his death while waiting for his Leave to Remain.
Before moving to Glasgow, he had graduated with a master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. After struggling to get work in the industry, he was employed as a chef in Wagamama’s and Nando’s in St Albans before the Home Office refused to renew his application to stay in the UK.
Status Now 4 All, a coalition of over 100 organisations and community action groups campaigning for undocumented migrants and migrants in the legal process, have called for a fatal accident investigation into his death and have written to Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal.
Update 29 September 2021: SNN Statement – It is time to review immigration policies
“It’s time to let all asylum seekers and undocumented migrants work and contributeto the society especially doctors, nurses, truck drivers, farmers, who are all forbidden to work.”
Atweet by member organisation Positive Housing in Action echoes sentiments expressed by many Status Now Network members keen to help the government see some sense and revisit its immigration policies.
As the country faces shortages of lorry drivers, health workers, care workers, agricultural workers, poultry farmers (and who knows what next), Status Now Network urges the government to grant Indefinite Leave To Remain to asylum seekers, those in the legal system, and those who made the UK their home but are undocumented. This will enable them to come forward because it removes their precarious status in the UK and gives them the right to work. It is a sensible, humane, and reasonable step for the British government to adopt.
27 September 2021: Here is the Motion submitted by Sevenoaks Constituency Labour Party [CLP] to the Labour Party Conference taking place right now. The Motion did not make it onto the list for discussion because there were other issues that people prioritised. It is however heartening to see that our concern is shared in that forum and we encourage Party members to use the motion in their own CLPs, Trades Unions etc for discussion:
The Motion reads:Racial Justice and Migrant Rights
This CLP notes:
Structural racism exists.
This CLP believes:
The Labour Party must seek to dismantle structural racism and campaign for racial justice in the UK and around the world.
The more unequal a society, the greater the reliance on a carceral system.
Successive governments have exploited the labour of migrants while failing to acknowledge the contribution of migration to our economy, culture, and society.