Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

No charges will be brought over the death of a young asylum seeker being cared for at a mental health facility, police have said.

Henok Zaid Gebrsslasie was found dead at the Caludon Centre, in Coventry, West Midlands, in 2021 and is thought to have taken his own life.

Refugee charity the Da’aro Youth Project warned his death was one of a growing number of suicides among asylum seekers.

Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, which runs the centre, said it was continuing to support the coroner’s investigation.

Family Henok Zaid GebrsslasieFamily
No charges are to be brought over the death, police say
Six people had been interviewed under caution over the death but there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges, said West Midlands Police.

Sarah Robson, director of the Da’aro Youth Project, which is supporting Henok’s family, said they had been left shocked and disappointed at the force’s decision.

She said Henok was being treated in what should have been a place of safety and the charity had been led to believe there was enough evidence for charges to be brought.

“It has not been identified where things have gone wrong, and this is a concern,” she said.

“Lessons have not been learned.”

Da’aro Youth Project Young asylum seekersDa’aro Youth Project
The Da’aro Youth Project was set up after the deaths of four young asylum seekers
Henok arrived in Coventry in May 2020 after fleeing his native Eritrea at the age of 14 to avoid persecution and compulsory military service.

He dreamed of a life in the UK, travelling through Libya and Europe, and contacted his family days before his death on 12 August, 2021.

It is understood days earlier he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act after being arrested.

“It has all been very difficult, we have been helping the family navigate the system,” said Ms Robson.

The London-based project was set up by the Eritrean community following the deaths of four young friends who also took their own lives within 16 months of each other.

Filmon Yemane, 18, died in November 2017 and friend Alexander Tekle, also 18, two weeks later.

Osman Ahmed Nur, 19, was found dead in his local authority accommodation in Camden, London, in May 2018.

And in February 2019, 19-year-old Eritrean Mulubrhane Medhane Kfleyosus took his own life, an inquest into his death heard.

Family Leonard FarrukuFamily
Leonard Farruku was found unresponsive on the Bibby Stockholm on 12 December
“We try to support and help the high numbers of young unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers still coming to the UK,” said Ms Robson.

“They often arrive completely lost, losing hope and feeling completely neglected and they end up taking their own lives.”

Two young people who were being supported by the charity had died in the past 12 months, she said.

Are asylum suicides an unfolding national tragedy?
Data obtained by the investigative journalism unit Liberty Investigates shows 23 asylum seekers in Home Office accommodation are confirmed or suspected to have died by suicide between 2020 and 2024.

In December, 27-year-old Leonard Farruku died on the Bibby Stockholm, a barge housing migrants off the Dorset coast.

Charities and campaigners have urged ministers to set up an inquiry into the treatment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.

The call comes after an official report said basic checks to keep children safe in asylum hotels were not carried out.

‘The problem is getting worse’
Asylum seekers had often taken traumatic journeys to reach the UK, said Ms Robson.

“There is so much disparity between what the service providers deliver to these people in comparison to their needs,” explained Ms Robson.

“The problem is getting worse, not better, I’m afraid. It’s just devastating.”

She said it was hoped an Article 2 inquest would now take place into Henok’s death.

These inquests have a wider scope than other hearings and are held where there is the potential an official body is in part responsible for the death.

PA Media Group of people thought to be migrantsPA Media
Charities are calling for an inquiry into the treatment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK
Mary Mumvuri, chief nursing officer and deputy chief executive officer of Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “On behalf of the Trust, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

“We continue to work with the coroner to support their investigation.”

Officers had carried out a “full and thorough” investigation, said West Midlands Police in a statement.

“Six people were interviewed under caution and a large number of witness statements were taken as detectives worked to establish the circumstances of [Henok’s] death.

“We consulted with the Crown Prosecution Service but there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges,” the force added.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and at every stage in the asylum process – from initial arrival to any potential relocations – our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and considered including those related to mental health and trauma.”

By Joy

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