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Asylum seeker dies by suicide after forced move left him isolated in shoddy accommodation

Emma Powys Maurice April 25, 2021
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asylum seeker Romeo Nguase

Romeo Nguase has died by suicide after claiming asylum in the UK (Facebook/@Ladsfchull)

An asylum seeker who came to Britain to escape anti-LGBT+ hate died by suicide after being forced to live in poor conditions, his family say.

Romeo Nguase, 22, fled family abuse in Namibia three years ago to claim asylum in the UK where he would be free to “be a bisexual man”.

Humberside Police found him dead at his home on Pendrill Street, Hull on the morning of 16 April. It is understood that he took his own life but an inquest has not yet taken place.

Police launched a public appeal to find Nguase’s next of kin and his cousin Java Kahiha was eventually tracked down thanks to “extensive work” from the charity Hull Sisters.

Kahiha described the conditions his cousin was housed in after he was allegedly forced to relocate to Hull against his will.

“He lived in Manchester with friends but became homeless so then he came over to Glasgow and we lived together and he claimed asylum,” Kahiha told Hull Live.

“The Home Office transferred him by force, and against his will, from Glasgow to Newcastle and then accommodated him in Hull. He said he didn’t didn’t want to move out of Glasgow to live in England.”

The Home Office said asylum seekers stay in “safe and secure accommodation” and have access to a 24/7 helpline should they have “any concerns”. But Kahiha believes this support wasn’t made available to his cousin.

“On April 1 he wanted to end his life and he ended up in hospital,” he said. “After the hospital I don’t know why they didn’t give him protection or why they put him back to where he was living – why didn’t they contact me as his next of kin?

“It was very upsetting news on all our ears. Last Monday I went to his house where he ended his life and saw the condition of the house.

“It was in bad condition honestly, I don’t know how you can put someone in a house like that.”

He described Nguase as a “lovely, young, talented, respectful man”, who wanted to study so he could change the culture back in Namibia and fight for the rights of people like him.

Kahiha said he tried to help him when he arrived in Hull, but his cousin was unable to access the services he needed.

“I used to give him vouchers and I would try to call organisations to help him with food but he was a young and shy guy who didn’t know much about the UK coming from Africa,” he said.

“People are not getting enough counselling – here in Glasgow there are a lot of help for people who are asylum seekers and LGBT+ groups.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are saddened by the death of Mr Nguase, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

“The government has a statutory duty to provide accommodation and support to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute while we consider their claims.

“They stay in safe and secure accommodation, have a 24/7 helpline available should they have any concerns, and have access to local healthcare support, including mental health, if needed.

“As an inquest has not been completed it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Nguase’s family are now raising money to help return his body to Namibia for burial. Click here to donate.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

Related topics: lgbt asylum

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