Tory-inflicted misery on refugees is proving to be deadly. A 23-year-old Nigerian refugee attempted suicide after being told he’d be moved to the prison barge in Dorset last Thursday.
He was airlifted to hospital in Colchester and put on life-support. It’s a powerful example to take to a protest set for the Home Office this Saturday.
The refugee saw his room number on a whiteboard in the lobby, indicating he’d be transferred to the barge this week.
He then tried to kill himself in the hotel car park and was found by another refugee. Refugees forced back onto the Bibby Stockholm have also said they “wish for death” because of the Home Office’s treatment.
Thirty refugees were put back on the prison barge on 19 October, with another 40 moved last week. The refugees were taken off the barge in August after deadly bacteria was found in the water system.
They warned home secretary Suella Braverman that their treatment had driven a refugee to attempt suicide. Braverman ignored their warnings. A refugee currently on the barge said, “Many people were healthy and coping with OK spirits.
“But as a result of the dysfunctional strategies of the government, they have suffered, and continue to suffer. We are treated in such a way that we despair and wish for death.”
Another said, “On the barge, we have exactly the feeling of being in prison. You can only go to specific stops at certain times by bus.
“Even to use the fresh air, you have to go through the inspection every time and go to the small yard with high fences and go through the X-ray machine again. This is a prison whose prisoners are not criminals.
“They are people who have fled their country just to save their lives and have taken shelter here to live.”
The Home Office wants to cram up to 500 on the barge, but the refugee says it already feels full. “It is absolutely clear to me that there will be chaos here soon,” he added.
Dire treatment of refugees by the Tories is pushing many to despair. The Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action charity said many of the 114 refugees at the hotel where the Nigerian man was kept have wounds from self‑harm. And ten are on hunger strike.
Since last November, there have been six occasions where refugees from this hotel were talked down from a flyover on the A12 that they planned to jump from. Meanwhile, child refugees are being forced to share hotel rooms with adults as the Tories try to maximise hotel space and dump responsibility for looking after children.
One 16-year-old boy in Yorkshire who had fled to Britain from Eritrea told the Guardian newspaper that officials registered him as 26.
“I’m sharing with a man who’s about 30. I feel lost. Sometimes I put my head under the bedding and cry. I miss my mum,” he said. The Tories want to close 50 hotels by the end of January, they announced last week.
That’s a concession to the racists who have protested outside hotels and brutally intimidated refugees. This is putting more pressure on councils to find alternative accommodation.
But already people are being forced to live in temporary housing due to a severe lack of social housing.
Councils are paying for 104,000 households to live in bed-and-breakfast-style rooms—the highest in 25 years.
The increasing misery for refugees is why the protest outside the Home Office on Saturday is crucial. The demonstration, called by Stand Up to Racism and many other groups, says, “Stop Braverman, Stop the Hate.”
It’s backed by anti-racist organisations, climate activists, LGBT+ groups and trade unions. Protesters will rage at the Home Office not just for its treatment of refugees, but also to defend protest rights. The Tories are targeting climate and anti-racist activists who oppose them.
It’s vital to defend the right to protest—including over Palestine—by exercising it—and linking it to anger at the racism spewing from the Tories.
Stop Braverman, Stop the Hate protest, Sat 4 Nov, 12 noon, Home Office, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF Details of Stand Up to Racism’s conference in London on Sun 19 Nov at standuptoracism.org.ukOriginal post