Campaigners are desperately trying to raise the necessary funds to send the body of 27-year-old Osman Rasul Mohammed, an Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker who jumped from the seventh floor of a Nottingham tower block, back home.
On Sunday 25 July 2010, according to the Guardian police officers talked to Osman as he was perched by railings of Clifford Court in Radford for two hours before placing his hand on his heart, looking up to the sky and jumping.
Osman was destitute and relied on the generosity of his friends, many of whom were in a similar situation, and local charity distributed by Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum (NNRF). Osman had been in the UK since 2001 after fleeing Iraq when his father and brother were killed. He had been refused permission to stay in the UK but was in the process of submitting a fresh asylum claim. As such he was not in receipt of any support from the government and was forced to ‘live’ on the street with £20 per month and food parcels supplied by NNRF. He was not allowed to work and probably had little access to health care. He had separated from his Polish partner with whom he had two children.
The Guardian also reported that he had managed to make his way to London to visit UK Border Agency (UKBA) offices in Croydon but had been turned away and told to find a solicitor. Osman was one of over 10,000 clients of the Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) charity that recently went in to administration leaving its vulnerable clients without access to legal advice.
His friends and campaigners in Nottingham are trying to raise the funds (£3,300) to return his body to his mother in Iraq. You can find details of where to donate money below.
The sad death of Osman Rasul Mohammed ‘made’ the national newspapers as did the deaths of three Russian asylum seekers, in March this year, who were found below a block of flats in Glasgow, all three having apparently jumped to their deaths. However, the deaths of countless others fail to warrant even a mention in the local or national press.
According to the IRR’s research at least 276 asylum seekers and migrants have died either in the UK at their own hand or attempting to reach the UK since 1989, (see the IRR’s report: Driven to desperate measures.) And in the last three years alone, at least seventeen asylum seekers (five of whom were Iraqi) have apparently taken their own life, in circumstances similar to those of Osman Rasul Mohammed.
How many more will die as cuts to the legal aid budget hit those with the most to lose, as more are forced in to destitution and as the UKBA carries out more impromptu dawn raids? How many more?
Guardian (1 August 2010): ‘Asylum seeker takes his own life after losing legal aid’
Read the IRR’s report: Driven to desperate measures
Read the IRR’s Factfile on the Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 2005 onwards