Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 2005 onwards

Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 2005 onwards


Written by: Harmit Athwal

IRR has, since 1989, been recording the deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants – two of the most vulnerable sections of our society – as a result of attempting to enter the UK, self-harm, denial of medical treatment, destitution, hazardous working conditions or racist attacks.

Forced by circumstances beyond their control to seek a life outside their home countries, prevented by our laws from entering legally and from working, denied a fair hearing by the asylum system, excluded from health and safety protection at work, kept from social care and welfare, unhoused and destitute, vilified by the media and therefore dehumanised in the popular imagination, their hopes of another life are finally extinguished.

This page lists deaths from 2005 onwards. Click here to read the list of deaths from 1989-2001. Click here to read the list of deaths from 2002-2004.

Ø § Vincent Shem, (32), 14/2/05

A Ghanaian man was found hanged by a bed sheet in Wandsworth prison. The inquest in October 2005 was told he was facing deportation after serving a six-month sentence. He reportedly spent long hours locked in his cell with nothing to occupy him, and due to staff shortages and overcrowding there was little interaction between prison officers and prisoners. None of the prison officers who gave evidence at the inquest could even recall having spoken to him during the three weeks he was in prison. The inquest rejected a suicide verdict, as the jury were not sure beyond reasonable doubt that Vincent meant to take his own life.

Ø Limbaya Ndinga, (32), 9/4/05

An asylum seeker from the DRC was found hanged at the house he was sharing with his cousin in Woodvale near Rochdale. Didier Sengambo told the inquest in December 2005 how his cousin had left the DRC in 2002 and sought asylum in the UK. He had come to live with him in 2003 while waiting a decision on the asylum claim, and when it was refused Limbaya became depressed. The coroner found that ‘he was suffering from illness and took his own life while depressed’.

 Unidentified man, 21/4/05

A man, believed to have been an asylum seeker, was knocked down and killed by a car on the M40, near Warwick. He is reported to have leapt from a van that had stopped at services and run towards the central reservation when a car hit him – he died instantly.

Ø § Ramazan Kumluca, (18), 27/6/05

A Kurdish asylum seeker from Turkey was found hanged in the privately run Campsfield House removal centre in Oxford. He had been detained for over four months and was said to be depressed after bail was rejected. In July 2006, an inquest found that he had taken his own life. Police read out a statement from fellow detainees who spoke of his fears for the future as he faced deportation to Italy. (Read NCADC News article: In memory Ramazan Kumluca)

Ø Nusrat Raza, (22), 2/7/05

A Pakistani asylum seeker died four days after setting herself alight in Bradford. She suffered from depression and had been told her claim for asylum had been refused, and had been appealing. Days before her death, she received a letter from the Home Office requesting further information. In February 2006, the coroner was told how Nusrat had been at home with her boyfriend and had gone into the kitchen to cook a meal. She was then heard shouting his name before being found alight in the street. At hospital where she was found to have 90 per cent burns to her body, she told a doctor that a cigarette had ignited her clothes on which she had spilt something earlier. The coroner found that ‘on the balance of probabilities I would take the view that she did deliberately pour fluid over herself and lit it with the lighter.’ A narrative verdict was recorded that ‘she died on July 2 in Whiston Hospital, Merseyside, of extensive burns caused when white spirit on her clothing was ignited by a naked flame by a cigarette lighter in the living room of her home on the morning of June 28’.

Ø Babak Ahadi, (34), 5/7/05

An Iranian asylum seeker set himself alight at his NASS accommodation in Bristol. He died the following day in Frenchay hospital after suffering 95 per cent burns to his body. According to his friends, Babak was depressed after being told his asylum claim had been refused. The inquest in February 2005 heard from Majid Faragi, a flatmate, who said that Babak had stopped him from putting out the flames with an extinguisher. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide and commented, ‘I have no doubt in my mind that the failed asylum application had dire results and was the prime cause of Mr Ahadi’s death.’

Ø Taufik Al-Karazeh, aka Mohamad Eid, (27), 9/05

A Syrian asylum seeker found hanged in Rochdale on the day he was due to leave the flat where he had been housed and return voluntarily to Palestine after his asylum claim had been refused. An asylum caseworker told the inquest that Taufik had become paranoid and thought that the Home Office had installed CCTV at his flat. At the inquest, the coroner found that he took his own life but that he couldn’t be sure his balance of mind was disturbed. (Read Rochdale Observer article: Asylum seeker’s suicide tragedy )

# Rushi Kamdar, (23), 9/05

A migrant worker from India, who came to work in the UK in 2004, was kicked and stamped to death in a Coventry street in September 2005, after popping out to the shops. Luke Mozid, 18, was found guilty of his murder. The prosecution alleged that the attack was motivated by robbery and racism although Luke Mozid’s family dispute this.

Ø Edmore Ngwenya, (26), 14/9/05

A Zimbabwean asylum seeker died after jumping into a canal in Manchester. The police said they were called to Exchange Quay, ‘following reports that a man was standing on chains at the quayside. When they arrived, officers found the man, balancing on the chains that hold the buffer tyres at the side of the canal. Officers encouraged him to come away from the canal. He was then seen to step from the chains and into the canal, going under the water. Two officers jumped in after him, while other officers called instructions from the quayside. The man re-surfaced a number of times before disappearing under water.’ The Manchester Evening News reported that witnesses felt officers hesitated in responding to the situation: ‘Everyone in our office was shouting at the police to jump in to save him. These officers looked like they were just not trained to deal with it’, said a witness. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is conducting a ‘supervised’ investigation into the death. He was also facing deportation. (Read IRR News article: Two asylum seekers took their own lives within 24 hours )

Ø § Manuel Bravo, (35), 15/9/05

An Angolan, who was detained in Yarl’s Wood removal centre in Bedford with his 13-year-old son, was found hanged in a stairwell on the morning of his 35th birthday and the day he was due to be deported. His young son was transferred to the care of members of his father’s church in Leeds. Campaigners and members of Manuel’s church have called for a public inquiry into the death and the ‘illegal detention’ of Manuel who claimed he had not even received a decision on his asylum appeal and therefore could not understand why he had been served with a deportation order. (Read IRR News article: Two asylum seekers took their own lives within 24 hours )

Ø Anderson da Silva, (25), 5/10/05

A Brazilian migrant jumped to his death from a building in the centre of Leeds. An inquest was told that he had not renewed his six-month visitor visa that preyed on his mind. Cannabis was also found in his body, which the coroner commented, caused drug-induced psychosis that probably affected his mental state. The coroner found that he took his own life because of personal problems.

 Do Van Ky, (37), 5/10/05

An undocumented Vietnamese man died after jumping or falling from a lorry at a service station at Haddon, near Peterborough. After the accident, police arrested two men, two women and a 17-year-old boy, all believed to be Vietnamese. Police eventually established his identity (wrongly) as Ky Anh Duong, 42 – the name an assumed one. In March 2006, an inquest recorded a misadventure verdict.

Ø Lizwane Ndlovu, (29), 10/11/05

A Zimbabwean asylum seeker died in Birmingham City hospital, probably from TB, though she did not know she had the disease. She took part in a hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood where she was detained, lapsing into a coma just weeks after being released from detention. Questions have been asked as to whether the removal centre had diagnosed her condition.

Ø Delroy Edwards, (43), 12/11/05

A Jamaican man died after being shot dead in Kingston, nine days after being deported from the UK. His asylum claim had been refused. Delroy had been in hiding at the time of his death and had initially fled after being shot. His claims, that he had been targeted by gangsters associated with PNP party, has been rejected by immigration adjudicators.

• Unnamed man, (42), 24/11/05

A migrant worker died the day after the minibus in which he was travelling in Peterborough overturned and hit a tree, fourteen others were treated for minor injuries.

Ø Star Engwenya, late 2005

A destitute Zimbabwean asylum seeker died in Hull hospital. She was apparently suffering from mental health problems and was, according to a friend, ‘living from place to place, depending on friends who could not provide her daily needs’. She had also suffered from a stroke and was unable to access any treatment.

Ø § Bereket Yohannes, (26), 19/1/06

An Eritrean asylum seeker was found hanged in a shower block at Harmondsworth removal centre. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), which received reports that Bereket had arrived in the UK from Italy in October 2005, he was detained on arrival in the UK, taken to Dover immigration removal centre and then to Harmondsworth in December. NCADC was told that Bereket had ‘removal directions’ for February but that the deportation had been deferred pending a judicial review. Detainees at Harmondsworth also told NCADC that the deportation was neither to Eritrea nor back to Italy, but to Sudan. According to other detainees at the centre, he was fearful of deportation and found conditions at the centre ‘unbearable’. He also spoke of his intention to take his life. (Read IRR News article: Detainees punished for protesting after suicide )

Ø Taufik Al-Karazeh, aka Mohammed Ali, (27), 10/2/06

A Syrian asylum seeker found hanged in the meter cupboard of his flat in Rochdale on the day he was due to move out. His asylum claim was refused in September 2005. His body was found by his asylum caseworker who had arranged for his voluntary deportation to Palestine. After he failed to return his keys she visited the flat and found his body. She told the inquest that he had become paranoid and thought that the Home Office had installed CCTV at his flat and that staff were following him. The coroner, Simon Nelson, found that he took his own life, but that he couldn’t be sure that his balance of mind was disturbed at the time. He said: ‘Between 4 February and 10 February Mr Al-Karazeh made the decision to take his own life. I have no evidence to suggest he was depressed and therefore I am reluctant to say the balance of the deceased’s mind was disturbed at the time of death. The fact that he was due to leave the UK, be it voluntarily or otherwise, was playing on his mind, but that would be the case with any asylum seeker.’ (Read Rochdale Observer article: Asylum seeker’s suicide tragedy)

Ø Yadav Krishnakumar, (20 months), 20/2/06

A 20-month-old baby boy died hours after being admitted to Fairfield Hospital, Bury suffering from dehydration. The inquest, in December 2006, was told that Yadav had been taken to the hospital and a doctor’s surgery in the 48 hours before his death after suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, but little was done. It was found that he probably died of dehydration and the coroner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, although it is extremely rare for a child to die of dehydration. The coroner was extremely critical that the family of Sri Lankan asylum seekers had been placed in the area without any support network, describing it as ‘incomprehensible and inhumane’. (Read Manchester Evening News article: Baby tragedy of asylum family ‘left with no help’ )

Ø Naser Al Shdaida, (36), 9/3/06

A Syrian asylum seeker died after jumping in front of a train in Streatham. An inquest was told that he suffered from post-traumatic stress and was scared of being deported after he was told his asylum claim had failed. (Read IRR News article: Remembering Nasser Al Shdaida)

Ø Danielle Dominy, (30), 04/06

A Brazilian woman living in Werrington, Cornwall died after drinking antifreeze because she feared immigration officials were going to separate her from her daughter who was born in the UK. An inquest was told she had waited six years for a ruling on residence and was barred from work and benefits. Dr Elizabeth Carlyon, the coroner, recorded an open verdict, saying she would write to the Home Secretary about the case. According to husband Jamie Dominy, Danielle had come to the UK in 1999 and they had met and planned to travel the world but Danielle had become pregnant and overstayed her visa by a few weeks. The couple had tried to sort out her immigration status but she was told to leave the UK and reapply from Brazil. Danielle had been ‘left in limbo’, just waiting for a knock at the door.

Ø Serghei Nichita, (22), 16/4/06

A Moldovan asylum seeker whose burned body was found on a towpath next to the Grand Union Canal in Sixfields, Northampton. The inquest was told that he had suffered burns to half his body and the pattern of the burns suggested that he had held a live conductor (he was found near an electricity pylon). A caseworker from the local asylum support team told the inquest that he had come to the UK as a teenager and was awaiting a decision on his application for an extension to his discretionary leave to remain. The coroner recorded an open verdict saying ‘I’m quite satisfied there was no third party involvement but I can’t presume his death was an accident or that he wanted to end his life.’

 Unidentified man, 23/4/06

A man died after apparently trying to cut himself loose from under a truck after slipping under the wheels and being dragged a mile along the A14 in Cambridgeshire. Police believed he was a stowaway. The German driver of the lorry was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol. The victim was described as Asian, aged 24 to 45, slim, 5ft 8in tall, with short hair, moustache, goatee beard and sideburns.

# Khizar Hayat, (40), 27/4/06

A Kashmiri born migrant worker died following an arson attack on the shop where he worked in Kennington, south London.

# Hamidi Hamidullah, (31), 3/5/06

A migrant worker from Afghanistan died following an arson attack on the shop where he was working. 32-year-old Robert Torto was charged with the murders of Khizar Hayat (see above) and Hamidullah Hamidi and also charged with three counts of arson with intent to endanger life, relating to attacks on other buildings. He was remanded in custody.

 Asif Azmad, (17), 11/5/06

Died after being crushed to death by the lorry he had stowed away in. The 17-year-old from Afghanistan clung to the lorry for fifteen miles before falling and being crushed on the A3 near Clanfield. The lorry had travelled to Portsmouth from France. It took police eight months to identify Asif, whose brother told the inquest that he did not know his brother was travelling to the UK.

Ø Sivanathan Gowthaman, (29), 13/5/06

A Sri Lankan asylum seeker died instantly after jumping in front of train in Bedhampton. An inquest into his death was told that mounting debts and the failure of his asylum claim were thought to have been factors. On the day before his death he had told his landlord that he was leaving to live with his brother in London, another man (who could not be traced) helped him pack his belongings and the two men left. The inquest found that he took his own life.

Ø Ese Elizabeth Alabi, (29), 15/5/06

A Nigerian woman died in hospital having been denied a heart transplant. Ese visited the UK regularly to see her fiancé and had never overstayed her tourist visas. However, in September 2005, she fell ill (while pregnant) and was told she could not fly home. She gave birth to twin boys in February, but steadily became sicker. She was diagnosed with a serious heart condition needing an immediate transplant. But as a foreign national her need was decided to be of a lower priority than UK citizens’. Her lawyer went to court for judicial review of this decision and because of the length of the legal fight she overstayed her visa and her medical case was adjourned until an application was heard for exceptional leave to remain. Her health deteriorated and she died before any case was heard.

Ø § Aleksey Baranovsky, (33), 06/06

A Ukrainian man bled to death in his cell at Rye Hill prison, Warwickshire. An inquest was told how he had repeatedly self-harmed as a protest against his impending deportation after serving a seven-year sentence and feared being killed by the Russian mafia if deported. A mental health assessment was never carried out and his request to see a doctor hours before his death was not followed up. An investigation by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) found that a nurse failed to provide the standard of care reasonably expected of someone in her role. When staff did realise that he was not breathing it took twenty minutes for his cell door to be opened. The coroner called his treatment at the privately run Rye Hill prison ‘shameful and appalling’. The jury recorded a highly critical narrative verdict outlining a catalogue of failures, highlighting failures to follow policy on suicide prevention or to arrange an urgent psychiatric assessment and a lack of communication between staff.

Ø Dejere Kebede-Tulu, (25), 06/06

An Ethiopian athlete, considered to be one of the best long-distance runners in the UK, was found dead in his flat in June 2006. In April 2007, an inquest into his death was told he continued to train as a runner despite living on a mere £25 per week. He came to the UK in 2001 after his father was murdered and claimed asylum. He had to wait until three weeks before his death before he was given indefinite leave to remain. His body bore scars of torture and at the time of his death he was receiving treatment from the Helen Bamber Foundation and it was workers from the organisation that found his body at his Holloway flat. The coroner recorded an open verdict as the cause of death could not be determined.

 Asian man, 12/6/06

An Asian man was found dead by a roadside near Witham, Essex, two other men were also found nearby and taken to hospital, one man was severely dehydrated and in a critical condition. The men were thought to be Pakistanis who were smuggled into the UK.

 Asian man, 22/6/06

An Asian man died in hospital, ten days after being found severely dehydrated with another two men, one of whom was already dead (see above).

Ø Abiy Fissiha Abebe, (35), 5/7/06

An Ethiopian asylum seeker was found hanged in Greenbank accommodation centre in Liverpool, after being told his asylum claim had been refused. His claim had been classified as a ‘late and opportunistic’ one and was being handled under the fast-track New Asylum Model under which decisions on asylum claims are given in eleven days. The conditions under which Abiy was housed and receiving support (of £35 per week) meant that he had to ‘report’ on a daily basis to Reliance House – some miles away. (Read IRR News article: Abiy Fessfha Abebe: ‘I can’t go back. I rather die’)

# Wei Wang, (41), 8/06 Glasgow

A Chinese asylum seeker died in hospital twelve days after being attacked in a ‘totally unprovoked’ attack outside his home in the Sighthill area of Glasgow. He had been in the Glasgow area for three months after being dispersed from London. A 19-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the murder.

Ø Pierre Palmaba Kabamba, (61), 12/8/06

An asylum seeker from Congo died after falling from a fifth floor window at the Nayland Rock hotel in Margate. The death is being treated as suicide. Pierre was staying with his wife at the hotel that is run by Migrant Helpline as an induction centre for up to 200 new arrivals – mainly Africans.

Ø Zamira Sadigova, (51), 17/8/06

An asylum seeker from Azerbaijan jumped to her death from her eleventh-floor flat in Glasgow as health officials and police officers tried to break down her door in order to section her (under the mental health Act) for treatment. The Glasgow Herald reported that she had arrived in the UK four years ago with her young son and claimed asylum on the grounds that she had been persecuted because she was Azerbaijani and her Jehovah’s Witness faith. However, her asylum claim was rejected as was an appeal and benefits were withdrawn in April 2005. Various medical reports stated that she was ‘vulnerable’. Zamira who had been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was first sectioned in 2003 when she was found jumping in front of cars on a Glasgow street. In the last few months before her death Zamira was surviving on £20 a week, given to her by a mental health charity. She had also become delusional, repeatedly talked about killing herself and had cut herself off from family and friends. Scottish MSP’s have called for a public inquiry into her death and the fact that she had been denied access to mental health treatment for a year before her death.. (Read Glasgow Herald article: Mentally ill asylum seeker left destitute leaps to her death.

Ø Paul Kiese, (31), 3/9/06

An asylum seeker from DRC was found hanged under a bridge over the River Spodden in Rochdale a month after his claim for asylum was refused. He had apparently spoken to his friends on numerous occasion about taking his own life after his asylum claim was refused and financial support withdrawn. (Read Rochdale Observer article: Refugee found dead at bridge )

Ø Abdullah Ahmed Maroof, (30), 10/06

An Iraqi man died after setting himself alight in his car on the A19 on the edge of Norton, Stockton. He feared being sent back to Iraq and possible retaliation after a cousin was murdered. Mr Maroof’s wife, Jane Parkes, told the inquest into his death: ‘He still felt responsible and guilty for his cousin’s murder. He thought that on his return he would be blamed and called to account for not protecting him more.’ His wife also told the inquest about immigration problems which were playing on his mind. The coroner, Michael Sheffield, found that Abdullah had killed himself, ‘I am satisfied that the actions he took – and strange actions they were – were intended to end his life.’

 One unnamed men, (20s), 8/10/06

One man was found dead and another was found seriously injured on the A20 in Sellindge, Kent. Police were seeking the driver of an articulated lorry that apparently reversed over the men. The men are both believed to be Iraqis in their 20s.

Ø § Sarah Namala, (44), 15/10/06

Ugandan asylum seeker died after being found unconscious and unresponsive in her cell at Cookham Wood prison. She suffered from mental health problems and had fits while in prison. She had been prescribed anti-convulsant medication to treat epilepsy despite a firm diagnosis of epilepsy having not been made.

• Ajet Krasniqi, (24), 24/10/06

An undocumented Kosovan labourer died from serious head injuries after being hit on the head with a reinforced steel joist (RSJ) in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. The inquest in July 2008 was told that his head was struck by an RSJ which dropped whilst a group of workers were trying to lift it. Just prior to the incident, Ajet was plastering a ceiling inside the property when he was asked to come and help move the joist. He, along with other workers, was not wearing a hard hat. The HSE inspector told the jury that the HSE ‘wouldn’t recommend manually handling that weight at all.’ The inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death. His employer was fined £10,000.

 Unnamed Afghan man, (40s), 11/06

A man died after being run over by the lorry he had been hiding under after tying himself to it with rope. The man was killed after cutting himself free from the underside of the lorry and falling under the wheels as it started moving in Harlow, Essex.

Ø Imran Yousaf, (28), 01/07

A Pakistani doctor found hanged at a friend’s home in Bedford. Imran was a qualified doctor who came to the UK in order to practise medicine. He passed the exams allowing him to practise in the UK, however, despite sending out hundreds of letters and job applications he was unable to secure employment. And then in March 2006, the government announced that priority would be given to UK postgraduates. The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) began a legal challenge to this decision, of which Imran was a part. He did not leave a suicide note but a letter from immigration officials telling him that his visa would not be extended was found beside him. Friends of the doctor commented that he was becoming increasingly distraught.

 Samuel Peter Benjamin, (17) 27/1/07

A South African man was found in the landing gear of a BA plane recently arrived in Los Angeles from London Heathrow. A pilot checking the plane for its return flight to the UK found the body. The young man from Cape Town, South Africa is thought to have stowed away on the plane on 22 January, six days before his body was found.

Ø § Abass Usman, (26), 29/01/07

A Nigerian man found hanged in his cell at Preston prison. He was on remand accused of using false documents and had only been in the prison for five days.

Ø Garip Aygun, (27), 3/07

A Turkish kebab shop owner was found hanged from a tree near Dover Castle. He had moved to the UK in 2005 to set up a business with his brothers, one of whom told the inquest: ‘He had stress because of the customers at the kebab shop. There was a lot of racism. Late-night customers would shout at him.’ The coroner commented: ‘I am satisfied that Mr Aygun intended to end his life.’

Ø Baitul Atique, 02/3/07

A Bangladeshi man found dead from an apparent overdose of sleeping pills in Dhaka. He had entered the UK as a dependant of his wife who entered under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP). However the couple were forced to return to Bangladesh following changes to HSMP and an extension to his wife’s visa being rejected. His wife said that he was depressed following concerns about being able to repay loans the family had taken to travel and work in the UK and that they never would have taken them out if they had known about proposed rule changes. Baitul had earlier attempted suicide on his return.

Ø Uddhav Bhandari, (40), 18/3/07

A Nepalese asylum seeker set himself alight in the Eagle Building, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, home to the asylum and immigration tribunal, on 7 March and died eleven days later in Glasgow royal infirmary. The former police officer had exposed corruption within the police force in Nepal. He was then posted to a remote region, a move considered as punishment. Uddhav started to receive death threats following a gun battle and was later sacked for his involvement in the incident. Finally finding work with a leftist newspaper, his role in a controversial article made him more enemies in Nepalese society. Upon receiving an order to report to police, Uddhav and his family fled the country. Although the Home Office never disputed the facts in his asylum claim, Uddhav’s asylum application was rejected as a judge deemed the threat he faced in Nepal was not sufficiently serious, and that in any case, he would receive protection upon return as he was high-profile. Having been in the UK six years and terrified of being sent back, he set fire to himself as he was about to launch his final appeal.

• Otari Davidovitch Hudoian, (46), 28/3/07

A Kurdish Iraqi man died after falling from a height while refurbishing a farm building at East Hall Farm, Rainham, Essex. At the inquest in July 2008 a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector told the inquest that the site was in very poor condition, that there were no guardrails, floorboards were missing and the general condition of the building site was untidy. A verdict of accidental death was returned. His nationality was initially unclear as he was known as a Georgian called Mehmet. However his family were eventually located in northern Iraq. He was identified by fingerprints held by the Home Office.

Ø Conrad Dixon, (40), 19/5/07

A Jamaican asylum seeker died after setting himself alight and suffering nearly 100 per cent burns after his claim for asylum was refused. The Stoke-on-Trent coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.

 Unnamed man, 06/07

An unnamed man was found dead in a speedboat being transported from Greece to Devon. Three others were taken to hospital. The boat was being transported by road and was stopped by police on the A43 near Chambery, France where the three men were found in a confined space with little ventilation. They had been on the boat for two days.

# Adam Michalski, (24), 08/07

A Polish migrant worker stabbed to death in a Wrexham street as he tried to get away from his assailant. In December 2007, Thomas Blue, 25, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum 17-year term, after being found guilty of the murder that he said was in self-defence. The trial was told how Blue abused Adam for being Polish and then stabbed him four times. The judge said he was satisfied that there was a racist element.

Ø Solyman Rashed, (28), 6/9/07

An asylum seeker who had been deported to Iraq from the UK was killed by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk, after having been back in the country for only two weeks. He had been held in various immigration detention centres for fifteen months after being arrested in May 2006 when he was homeless and destitute. Solyman felt that he would never be released from detention, after making numerous bail applications, and agreed to return voluntarily. He was deported to Baghdad on 15 August and travelled to his hometown of Kirkuk where he was killed just over two weeks later.

Ø Shaukat Ali, (61), 10/10/07

A Pakistani man found hanged at the flat where he was staying in Birkby, Huddersfield after being told his asylum claim had failed. His brother told the inquest that Shaukat had been in the UK illegally and had been trying to claim asylum but had recently been told he had to leave the UK. The coroner found that he took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.

# Gregory Fernandes, (32), 10/07

An Indian sailor from Goa died of a heart attack after being attacked by a gang in Fawley, Hampshire. He and a shipmate were returning to their ship berthed at Fawley oil refinery when they were met by a 20-strong gang who attacked them outside a hotel and then again further down the road. A passer-by, Jody Miles, broke up the fight and took Gregory back to the docks where he collapsed and died from a heart attack as a result of the stress. His friend Pitchilnaviram suffered a broken collarbone. Police said that Gregory was attacked because of his race. Ten teenagers, aged 13 to 17, were arrested on suspicion of murder, GBH and violent disorder and later released on bail. In January 2008, the Fernandes family expressed concern at the police investigation and the failure to charge anyone. Later three young boys were charged with murder. At their trial in February 2009, the three admitted lesser charges of manslaughter. In March 2009, Stephen Pritchard, 18, Daniel Rogers, 18 and Chay Fields, 16 were sentenced to six-and a half years in prison. A 15-year-old boy admitted GBH on Pitchilnaviram and was given a 12-month detention and training order. Another 15-year-old who also admitted assault was given a 18-month supervision order.

Ø § Avtar Singh, (37), 17/11/07

An undocumented Punjabi father of two took his own life in prison. He had travelled to the UK in 2003 and after some time here had sought advice from an agent on how to regularise his status. He was advised to travel to Spain to obtain legal status and had been given a false passport, for which he was caught. He served a seven-month sentence and was due to be deported to India the day before he died.

Ø § Abdullah Hagar Idris, aka Joker, (18), 25/12/07

An unaccompanied asylum-seeking child from Darfur, who arrived in the UK in 2005 and took his own life on Christmas Day 2007 at HMP Chelmsford. An inquest in June 2010 heard damning evidence of numerous systemic and individual failures by state bodies, principally including HMP Chelmsford and Essex Social Services (ESS), in the way Joker was treated and cared for both before and after entering prison. The inquest into his death was told he had been due for release in January 2008 but shortly before his death was given a notice of deportation to Sudan. He was probably unable to understand fully what was to happen as his English was not very good.

Ø § Siumpalan Sathiyan, (29), 20/1/08

A Sri Lankan man found hanged in his cell at Wormwood Scrubs prison in West London. He was on remand on a charge of ‘making a false instrument’.

• Wu Zhu Weng, (27), 31/1/08

A Chinese migrant worker died in Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after falling through a skylight of a roof he was working on. Sharaz Butt, company director at Norwich-based Alcon Construction, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July 2008 at Norwich Crown Court and also admitted three health and safety offences on behalf of the company, including failing to ensure the safety of employees and failing to give staff proper training. The court was told how Butt drove Wu to hospital and told staff the injuries happened after Wu had fallen down stairs at his home. Wu had actually fallen 13 feet when he stumbled through a skylight which was covered by a thin plastic sheet and was not marked as a hazard. In August 2008, Butt was jailed for twelve months and disqualified from acting as a company director.

Ø Mohammed Ahmedi, (18), 6/2/08

A young Iraqi asylum seeker with a heart condition died in Gloucester Royal hospital as doctors and social workers attempted to clarify his immigration status. His family and lawyer expressed concerns that he was not treated adequately because his status was unclear.

Ø Barhan Ahmed, (28), 18/2/08

An Iraqi asylum seeker died after setting himself alight in Nelson, Lancashire. An inquest in September 2008 was told that he suffered from depression and had told his doctor of his despair. He made his asylum claim in 2002 after seeking asylum with his brothers but it had been refused. The coroner found that he had taken his own life.

Ø Ama Sumani, (39), 30/3/08

A Ghanaian woman died in Korle Bu Hospital in Accra, Ghana after being deported from the UK in January 2008 while being treated for cancer at the University Hospital of Wales. She was taken from the hospital in a wheelchair by five immigration officers and driven to Heathrow. The Lancet commented after her removal, ‘To stop treating patients in the knowledge that they are being sent home to die is an unacceptable breach of the duties of any health professional. The UK has committed an atrocious barbarism. It is time for doctors’ leaders to say so, forcefully and uncompromisingly.’

Ø § Delaili Kwadzo Abusah, aka Alfredo Castano-Fuentes, (28), 30/3/08

A Ghanaian found hanged in his cell at HMP Pentonville. He was arrested in north Wales and charged with entering the country illegally after using a false passport, and served a one-year sentence. The inquest was told he was served with a deportation notice two weeks before his death. Julie Rogers, a senior officer at Pentonville who delivered the news of his deportation, said she spent five minutes with him, and he appeared to have expected it. The coroner directed the jury to record a verdict of suicide.

Ø Lucy Kirma, 05/08

An asylum seeker was found dead in a house used to house asylum seekers in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. A friend who found her commented: ‘I think she had received a letter saying she had to leave and she was very upset about it. I think she just starved herself to death because she took to her room and wouldn’t come out, not even for a drink. She told me her support had also been stopped.’

 Two unnamed men, 25/5/08

The bodies of two unidentified men, thought to be north Africans, were found in the cargo hold of a ship docked at Ayr port in Scotland. The ship had recently arrived from Tunisia carrying material for the production of fertilisers. It is thought that the men died soon after secreting themselves in the hold as once the doors were shut there would have been very little air. The men were thought to be Tunisian after ID cards bearing a Tunisian flag were found.

Ø Mohammad Hussain, (36), 3/8/08

This man died of cancer in hospital following a long fight to gain refugee status. Mohammad left Erbil and sought refuge in the UK in March 2000, following threats from the Kurdish Democratic Party because of his political campaigning. He narrowly avoided deportation, on 14 May 2008, after his lawyer successfully challenged it. While he was held in Lindholme removal centre he sought medical help for a lump in his stomach and was prescribed painkillers. On his release in May he went to Doncaster Royal Infirmary where he was diagnosed with a form of cancer which (by that stage) was incurable. (Read IRR News article: Appeal for funds to send Iraqi man home)

Ø Nadir Zarabee, 5/8/08

An Iranian asylum seeker found hanged in a park in Longsight, Manchester after being asked to leave his Trafford home, which had been provided by a private company contracted by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) to provide housing to asylum seekers in the area. (Read IRR News article: Two asylum seekers take their own lives )

Ø Hussein Ali, (35), 10/08/08

Shot himself in the cellar of his home in Sulaimania, Kurdistan days after being deported from the UK. Hussein had been in the UK since 2002. He was detained for fifty days at Oakington removal centre in Cambridgeshire after being arrested in London for working without permission. He was deported to Erbil via Jordan on 7 August 2008. (Read IRR News article: Two asylum seekers take their own lives)

Ø Unnamed Zimbawean man, (32), 1/9/08

A Zimbabwean man found dead at his home, a month after being released from Colnbrook, the maximum security removal centre in west London. A post-mortem revealed the cause of death as tuberculosis (TB). The man came to the UK in 2002 on a visitor’s visa that he overstayed. He was held at Colnbrook for just over two years until shortly before his death. Prior to that he had served a sentence of forty months at Littlehey prison where he was detained under immigration powers for deportation to Zimbabwe and transferred to Colnbrook. In July 2008, he was temporarily released on licence following an Appeals Tribunal hearing and placed in National Asylum Support Service (NASS) accommodation, where he was found on 1 September 2008 a neighbour noticed his flat door was open and the television on. The man was released six days after being told he was no longer infectious and after having spent time in hospital and on the healthcare wing at Colnbrook being treated for TB. Information from the coroner suggested that he had been trying to register with a doctor following his release from Colnbrook but had been unsuccessful. An investigation following the death by the Prisons and Probation Service Ombudsman (PPO) made four recommendations, two in relation to the medical needs of detainees and two in relation to public protection. The two public protection recommendations were accepted, however the recommendations in relation to accessing healthcare for asylum seekers were not. The PPO stated that the ‘the state has a duty of care to those it is releasing from immigration detention’, and was also critical of the lack of information provided to NASS caseworkers who were unaware of the man’s medical condition.

Ø Frank Odame, (36), 09/08

A Ghanaian man found with head injuries below a block of flats after police officers and immigration officials visited a flat in Woodford Green. The death is being investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards of the Metropolitan Police Service.

 Baj Singh, (33), 09/08

Indian man died after being crushed to death under the wheels of a lorry in Trent Vale, Staffordshire. The lorry had travelled from Belgium via Germany. An inquest was told that fingerprint records showed that he had been picked up twice by immigration officials while trying to enter the UK from Calais and sent back. He had no official documents but gave his name as Baj Singh, when he was picked up earlier on 18 April.

Ø Mohammed Ali, (80), 2/11/08

An Iraqi man suffering from cancer died after being denied treatment and pursued for payment for treatment he had already received. He arrived in the UK in 2006 from Denmark to live with his son in London and was soon diagnosed with lung cancer. He did receive some treatment but this was soon stopped on the grounds that he was not entitled to free treatment. Instead Mohammed was pursued by debt collectors (sent by the NHS) who, according to his son, called at their home first once a month and then on a weekly basis. Mohammed was here legally and was waiting to hear from the Home Office about his right to remain in the UK, which was granted in April 2008. The hospital did agree to refund part of his money and to treat him – but it was too late.

 Duy Nguyen, (25), 2/12/08

A Vietnamese man found dead in the back of lorry stopped on the M3 in Winchester by police after arriving from France in the Channel Tunnel. The 45-year-old driver was detained and later bailed pending further inquiries. The driver called the police after being alerted by another motorist on the M3 who had seen a hand poking from the lorry. The driver had stopped and an unidentified man had run from the lorry. Police said the death was not suspicious and that he had died from hypothermia and natural causes.

# Kunal Mohanty, (30), 03/09

This Indian sailor died after his throat was slit in a street attack in Glasgow. Kunal, in the city to sit exams at the Nautical College for promotion to sea captain, was on his way to get a meal with three friends. Christopher Miller approached the four and asked for a cigarette and then, after calling Kunal ‘black b*****d’, produced a knife and slashed Kunal across the throat. Miller was also later heard to boast to having ‘done a P**i’. Miller, 25, denied charges of racially aggravated murder and attempting to pervert the course of justice and acting in a racially aggravated manner. A jury unanimously found him guilty and the judge sentenced him to serve at least 18 years in prison. (Miller had previous convictions for racially aggravated offences.)

 Unknown man, (30s), 6/4/09

Found dead on Eurostar rail tracks, his badly injured body was found by police who believe he had been hit by a train or fallen from one.

# Marek Muszynski, (40), 07/09

A Polish man died after being attacked in the street in Newry, Northern Ireland. He was allegedly taunted with ‘Go back to your own country, you’re not wanted in Ireland’, and then savagely beaten and robbed. A man and a woman have been charged with murder.

Ø Heval Huseyn Ismail, (28), 9/8/09

A Kurdish asylum seeker found hanged in a park in South Shields, South Tyneside. He arrived in the UK in 2006 from Syria and was refused asylum in 2008 and was facing deportation. The coroner recorded an open verdict saying he was not satisfied he intended to take his own life.

Ø Jasraj Singh Kataria, (23 months), 16/8/09

A young child fell from the window of a third floor flat in Dennistoun, Glasgow. Jasraj fell from the window as he apparently watched children walking to school, on 8 August, and died just over a week later. His family were Sikh asylum seekers from Afghanistan, who had been housed at the block of flats by a UKBA contractor, the Angel Group. According to the Glasgow Herald: ‘Homes with vulnerable occupants must have windows fitted with equipment to prevent falls.’ The Angel Group has insisted that the windows at the flat were fitted with locks, as has the UKBA, but has also refused to make public its investigation into the death. Campaigners have called for a fatal accident inquiry into the death.

Ø Hassan Rahimi, (16/17), 10/9/09

A teenage unaccompanied Afghan asylum seeker found hanged in Hounslow, west London in accommodation provided by the social services department. The day before his death, he was arrested following an alleged assault on his key worker following an argument over an ‘allowance payment’. The day before his death he had also been told that key workers would not be staying with him overnight at his flat and that the hours spent with him would be reduced. He had arrived in the UK in June 2005 and placed in the care of Hounslow social services, had been given leave to remain until 8 October 2010 and was awaiting a decision on whether further leave to remain would be given. He was placed with at least six difference foster carers and then in shared/supported accommodation. He had also spent time in secure psychiatric care. There seemed to be some dispute over his age, as following an arrest Hassan insisted that he was over 21 and be treated as an adult. In September 2009, the coroner found that Hassan had taken his own life.

 Unknown man, 31/10/09

Body of a man found in a lorry that was about to enter the Channel Tunnel in France. The lorry had travelled from Belgium and was stopped by customs officials and his body was found in a cramped compartment that was hidden. It is thought the man suffocated to death.

Ø Mohammed Safi, (18), 30/10/09

An Afghan boy found drowned in the Thames seven hours after being arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

Ø Jianping Liu, (35), 12/11/09

A Chinese woman died after falling from a bridge on the Northern Perimeter Road near Heathrow airport hours after she was arrested by police as an overstayer in the public departure area at Terminal 1. She had been released at 9.30am from custody after it was found that she had leave to be in the UK, and her death was reported at around 1pm that afternoon. (Read IRR News article: Death of Chinese woman at Heathrow under investigation)

Ø Yurij Skruten, 01/10

A Ukrainian man was found hanged in a disused pub in Brentford. His body was decomposed so the exact cause of death was difficult to establish. He had apparently been living rough after his asylum claim had been refused.

Ø Serguei Serykh, (43), Tatiana Serykh, Stepan Serykh, (19), 7/3/10

Three Russians died after falling from the fifteenth floor at the Red Road complex in the Balornock area of Glasgow, where asylum seekers are housed by the YMCA under contracts with the UKBA. According to media reports, the family had been granted refugee status in Canada but refused citizenship. Following disputes with authorities, they had left and travelled to Europe, eventually seeking asylum in the UK in 2007. The family apparently settled in Newham, east London where their asylum claims were refused in December 2008. They then moved to Glasgow in autumn 2009. On 15 February the family were told that they were facing deportation, they could go voluntarily or be forcibly deported, back to Russia. The family were also thought to be facing eviction from their flat. Campaigners have called for a fatal accident inquiry to be held into the deaths.

 Ramahdin, (16), 11/4/10

An Afghan boy died in the early hours of the morning after apparently falling from a lorry that had just boarded a boat near to Dunkirk. The young boy, named only as Ramahdin, was apparently trying to reach his cousin who had already travelled clandestinely to the UK the week before.

Ø § Eliud Nguli Nyenze, (40), 15/4/10

A Kenyan man died at Oakington removal centre in Cambridge after apparently suffering a heart attack. Campaigners and other detainees alleged that he had been refused medical care. Following his death a disturbance erupted at Oakington and at least 60 people were transferred to prisons. In the days following the death the private company that runs the centre, G4S, was stripped of its British Safety Council award for its ‘commitment to improving health and safety’. An inquest in October 2010 was told that he had collapsed in his room and despite earlier complaining that he wasn’t well had been refused paracetamol. An ambulance took twenty minutes to reach the centre and the nurse who went to treat him did not take a defibrillator with her. The Home Office pathologist could find no cause of death but suggested sudden adult death syndrome. The coroner recorded a verdict that he died of natural causes, a verdict Eliud’s family were unhappy with.

Ø Alan Rasoul Ahmed, Wales, (21), 2/5/10

A man found hanged in accommodation in Kensington, Liverpool. Alan had become depressed over the final weeks of his life, he was homesick and wanted to return home to Iraq after his asylum claim was refused. Unfortunately being left in limbo and the pain of wanting to return home became too much for him and his took his own life.

Ø Osman Rasul Mohammed, (27), 25/7/10

An Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker jumped from the seventh floor of a Nottingham tower block. 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 he placed his hand on his heart, looked up to the sky and jumped. 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 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 into administration leaving its vulnerable clients without access to legal advice. (Read IRR News article: Nottingham asylum seeker jumps to his death)

• Qabil Amin, (21), 22/8/10

An asylum seeker from Afghanistan found dead in the cab of a digger in Blackburn, Lancashire. He suffered from head injuries after the digger he was driving crashed. The UKBA commented that his ‘case for asylum was still under consideration at the time of his death, but the legality of his work is still being looked at.’

Ø § Jimmy Mubenga, (46), 12/10/10

An unnamed Angolan man died after becoming ‘unwell’ during a deportation. According to the Guardian the man was being escorted by three guards from the private company G4S, on a flight that was preparing to leave from Heathrow to Luanda, Angola, paramedics were called and the man was taken to Hillingdon hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police are investigating the death. (Read Guardian article: Security guards accused over death of man being deported to Angola)

Related links

See also the IRR’s reports: Driven to desperate measures (pdf file, 401kb) and Driven to desperate measures: 2006-2010 (pdf file, 432 kb)

IRR Research: Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 1989-2001

IRR Research: Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 2002-2004

IRR Research: Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 2005 onwards

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns


Bail for Immigration Detainees

Barbed Wire Britain

Prisons and Probation Service Ombudsman fatal accident investigation reports

Last updated: 29 October 2010.KEY:  Stowaway death; Ø Self-harm/prevention of medical treatment/destitution; § In detention; • working (illegally) accident; # racist attack.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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