A ‘destitute’ Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker committed suicide after being turned away by government immigration officers from their office in Croydon.
Osman Rasul, 27, killed himself by jumping off a building in Nottingham on Sunday 25 July, according to a report in the Guardian.
According to friends, Rasul, a father of two who arrived in Britain in 2001, had become desperate following nine years of legal impasse over his immigration status.
Having once been refused permission to remain in the country, he was engaged in preparing a second application. Prohibited from working, he had been living on charitable donations and sleeping on the streets.
The collapse in June of the charity Refugee and Migrant Justice only worsened his situation, removing hopes of access to legal aid and expert advice.
After the organisation, which aimed ‘to secure justice for asylum seekers and other migrants in the UK who seek protection or need help to secure their human rights under UK law,’ went into administration, Rasul was left with the looming threat of deportation.
In a last-ditch attempt to resolve his situation, he decided to travel to Croydon and throw himself at the mercy of immigration officers, but was met with incomprehension and advised to seek legal assistance.
Nottingham-based charity worker Harry Woolner, who works with the homeless and had sheltered Rasul, told the Guardian: “He felt he was never able to take control of his life.”
“He was frustrated that his case had not been progressed so he decided to go down to the Home Office [immigration centre] in Croydon and ‘hand himself in’, saying: ‘Either send me home or help me’. He felt he was taking control at last. It was a brave thing to do.”
“But when he got there they said ‘Who are you? We don’t know you. Get a solicitor’. In terms of his mental state it was too much to take.”
“In London he stayed with friends some of the time but also slept rough and was not eating well. He was mentally and physically exhausted when he came back. We didn’t realise the severity of the situation,” he added.
“He went out for a bike ride on the Sunday. We thought that was positive. But he did not come back.”
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “Any death of this kind is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with Mr Rasul’s family and friends.”
“We are working closely with Nottinghamshire police while this matter is being investigated. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.”