Asylum seeker on board Bibby Stockholm dies
An asylum seeker living on board the Bibby Stockholm barge has been found dead, according to reports.
The first asylum seekers were brought back to the giant vessel, moored in Portland, Dorset, in October, some two months after it was evacuated following the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water supply.
According to others living on the barge the person died by suicide.
Former home secretary Suella Braverman previously insisted the Bibby barge was safe amid threats of legal action from firefighters and protests about the suitability of the plan.
The news comes as MPs are set to debate controversial plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of flagship legislation.
Further details of the incident are yet to be confirmed. The person’s age and country of origin are not yet known, it is understood.
The person was found dead on Tuesday morning and police and ambulances had arrived at the barge, another person living inside told ITV.
Charity Care 4 Calais has criticised conditions on the barge following news of the death on board.
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 on board 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 amongst 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.”
Campaigning charity Freedom from Torture has called for an end to the use of barges and barracks as asylum accommodation.
Ann Salter, from the charity, said: “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.
“Until this Government stops forcing refugees into unsafe and undignified accommodation, we will continue to see horrific stories of deaths, suicide attempts, serious health issues, and unnecessary suffering.
“It’s time this Government ends the use of barges and barracks as asylum accommodation once and for all.
“Those seeking protection need to be housed in our communities where they can properly access the support they need to recover and rebuild their lives.”
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