Asylum seeker on Bibby Stockholm barge believed to have killed himself | Immigration and asylum #Asylum #seeker #Bibby #Stockholm #barge #believed #killed #Immigration #asylum

An asylum seeker is believed to have killed himself while being housed on the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge, it is understood.

Police are investigating the “sudden death of a resident” on the vessel in Portland, Dorset, which was leased by then home secretary Suella Braverman to house recent migrants.

The prime minister’s official spokesman confirmed that the reported death was being investigated.

He said: “Everyone arriving on Bibby Stockholm has a medical assessment, they are continually monitored when staying in the accommodation and are given any necessary support as you would rightly expect.”

There are understood to be about 300 male asylum seekers on the barge, which the Home Office claims has capacity for 500. Up to four people are expected to share in each cabin.

The barge has been blighted with problems since it was docked in Portland in early July, including a series of health and safety issues.

The Fire Brigades Union accused it of being a “potential deathtrap” because of potential overcrowding and a lack of suitable fire exits.

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A Dorset police spokesperson said: “At 6.22am on Tuesday 12 December 2023, Dorset police received a report of a sudden death of a resident on the Bibby Stockholm.

“Officers are conducting inquiries into the circumstances of the incident.

“The coroner’s office has been notified of the death.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reporting of an incident involving an asylum seeker on the Bibby Stockholm.

“This is an ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time”

Asylum seekers were taken on board in early August but taken off days later when it emerged that Legionella bacteria had been found in the water supply.

The three-storey vessel houses people awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications.

The Home Office provided extra funding to NHS Dorset for a one-room medical centre on the barge, which officials said would be staffed five days a week, providing a GP service to asylum seekers.

A nurse practitioner or a paramedic was due to be on board four or five days a week, and a GP was scheduled to be on board one day a week, with translation services available, NHS Dorset said when asylum seekers returned to the barge in October.

But charities have consistently warned that residents’ mental health was deteriorating while they were onboard, with the distress exacerbated by the barge’s isolated location.

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, was asked about the incident during a speech in Buckinghamshire. Although he said he was not yet aware of the details, he said: “My heart goes out the family and friends of an individual who has lost their life.”

The charity Care4Calais has criticised conditions on the barge.

Steve Smith, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “Our thoughts are with the person who has lost their life, their family and their friends. It is also with all those stuck onboard the Bibby Stockholm who will be experiencing a deep feeling of grief and worry today.

“The UK government must take responsibility for this human tragedy. They have wilfully ignored the trauma they are inflicting on people who are sent to the Bibby Stockholm, and the hundreds being accommodated in former military barracks.

“They are being separated from the rest of society and we have witnessed a serious deterioration of people’s mental health. We have regularly been reporting suicidal intentions among residents and no action is taken.

“This can no longer continue. Asylum seekers are human beings, many of whom have experienced the worst traumas imaginable through war, torture and persecution. It’s time our political leaders treated them as human beings, listened to the trauma they have experienced and offered them sanctuary. The government’s proxy war against refugees is costing lives.”

Ann Salter, speaking for the human rights charity Freedom from Torture, said:

“We’re devastated to hear reports that an asylum seeker has died onboard the Bibby Stockholm. This latest tragedy is yet another reminder that the Government’s punitive anti-refugee policies are not only cruel, but they cost lives. From the survivors I work with every day, I know that the cramped and dangerous conditions on the Bibby can be profoundly retraumatising for those who’ve survived torture and persecution, in addition to traumatic experiences they’ve suffered en route to the UK.

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