10 April 2015

A report by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has documented the death of 160 migrants and refugees in Europe between January 2010 and December 2014.

Of them, 60 asylum seekers committed suicide, hours or days before a scheduled return to their country. 26 asylum seekers died of illness with medical assistance being denied, severely delayed or inadequate. 16 died as a result of destitution either through accidents or illness caused by having to live on the streets or in derelict buildings. Nine died after direct contact with police or security officials, result of beatings, restraint or shooting. Four died during police chases or immigration raids, in accidents, or, afraid of being arrested, by throwing themselves from high storey buildings. Four (including a 10-year-old child) died in Germany, hit by trains on railway tracks they were forced to cross to get to shops from their reception centre. Two were killed by violent room- or cellmates, whose psychological problems were untreated, ignored or punished. Two people died violently in their country of origin after their deportation following refusal of asylum from Belgium and Ireland.

Germany had the highest migrant death toll with 29, followed by Norway with 23, then the UK with 22, and Ireland with 18.

In Northern European countries, such as Germany, the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway, suicide was the most common cause of death among the cases studied. Conversely, in southern Europe, the majority of asylum seekers died from the effects of destitution or untreated illnesses.

IRR underlines that this represents a snapshot of a bigger picture, as for many countries, migrants’ deaths are not recorded or investigated. Furthermore, the report figures do not include the thousands of migrants and refugees who have died trying to enter the EU.

Last month, an Iraqi man died in Sweden following a deportation attempt. According to IRR, an internal document of the prison service suggests that one person present during the deportation attempt warned the escort officers that they were holding the man in a dangerous hold. The Swedish prosecution service has opened an investigation into possible manslaughter.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 April 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.