LONDON: A Syrian interpreter abandoned by the UK’s asylum system attempted suicide after waiting nearly two years for a decision on his claim.
Ali, not his real name, arrived on a Tier 2 Highly Skilled Worker visa in 2020 and with permission to work as a translator for the Syrian White Helmets. He told The Guardian that fear of his application being rejected had severely impacted his mental health.
“I can’t sleep. It’s affecting everything – my mental health, my appetite. I can’t eat, I keep getting cramps and feeling really sick,” said Ali. “But as I was telling the Home Office guy all this, I said, ‘Please, give me a timeframe.’ ‘No, you have to wait.’ I said, ‘What can I do? Please help me. Help me to help myself.’ They said, ‘Write to me about what you’re telling me now.’
“It’s even more frustrating to go through even more bureaucracy when I’ve done everything they have asked me to do.”
With the Home Office refusing to provide him with any updates, timeframes, or assurances about his application despite repeated requests, Ali, who worked for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in Istanbul, said his mental health had drastically deteriorated.
Compounding his anxiety was knowing that his work had left his family in Syria as targets. His mother has been arrested and interrogated in a regime prison.
Ali added: “She’s now too terrified to speak to me, worried the line is being monitored. She’s traumatized and feels she is being watched, and I have no security here, which makes it even worse.”
He has been prescribed the strongest dose of antidepressants permissible by his doctor and is also seeing a psychiatrist and being offered urgent care.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Guardian: “The government is committed to ensuring asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delay, but we are currently prioritising cases involving unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Asylum seekers have access to health and social care services, we take every step to prevent self-harm or suicide.”
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