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Our statement on the tragic loss of life at Bibby Stockholm Barge

Prof Cornelius Katona

We are deeply saddened at the news that a man died by suicide on the Bibby Stockholm Barge. We are however not surprised. This was as predictable as it was tragic. 

Those housed on the Bibby Stockholm have come to the UK seeking sanctuary and will likely have suffered severe trauma - in their countries of origin, on their long and dangerous journeys, or both. As a result, many have significant mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Housing them in crowded, isolated and deliberately unwelcoming conditions and preventing them from integrating into a local community can only increase their mental distress which is often already high. 

We at the Helen Bamber Foundation work with refugees and people seeking asylum who have survived extreme human cruelty such as torture or human trafficking. Bibby Stockholm residents we have spoken to liken their conditions to those of being in a prison. We are ashamed that our elected government persists in its cruelty towards the most vulnerable. 

We call on the government to close the Bibby Stockholm barge immediately. Instead, we urge the government to use community-based asylum housing that allows people to live in dignity with full access to healthcare, legal advice, and community support. It is simply unacceptable to place people fleeing conflict and persecution in isolated camps which cause such distress and prevents them from receiving the care and support they need to recover.