In the last six years, over 33,7000 migrant fatalities have been recorded while in transit across worldwide migration routes. This figure represents only a minimum, with the majority of migrant deaths going unrecorded.
The Syrian refugee crisis saw 7.6 million people displaced from their homes. 4 million of these fled to neighbouring countries and beyond. Initially, there was a wave of public sympathy as to the horrors these people had to suffer in their own country, and continue to suffer as they sought a better life but this was quickly displaced by irrational concerns as to the rising number of arrivals into the UK.
While there are arguments to suggest otherwise, for many migrants, the UK is sold as a place of opportunity, fair work and necessary support. Yet, the UK is the only state in Europe that detains irregular migrants indefinitely, and by 2018, more than 50 deaths were recorded having occurred in British detention centres, prisons or privately run housing for asylum seekers.
One story that stands out is Manuel Bravo’s. In 2005, he hung himself the day before immigration officers deported him and his son. It was Manuel’s 35th birthday but he took his own life knowing that immigration officers could not deport his 13-year-old son without a parent.
The ultimate responsibility for these deaths lies with government policy, which has deliberately shut down safe and legal routes to the UK and is driving a dependence on life-threatening methods. The purposely hostile environment created by our government is only set to intensify.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary and a second generation immigrant recently announced her plans to end the Free Movement of People into the UK. Considering the UK holds less than 1% of the world’s migrants, it’s a move that plays off the unjustified yet growing discomfort in our society concerning the extent of immigration. The irony of course, being that her intentions are to introduce a system that would have penalised her own parents.
People will continue to move, as they always have done and nobody should have to risk their life to do so.