LONDON: An expert medical report has warned that a young asylum seeker who has been blocked from joining his brothers in Britain is at high risk of suicide.
Samir, whose name has been changed for his safety and security, is stranded in Greece away from his family.
He fled his home country in 2019 after reportedly enduring torture and detention, and has been living alone on the island of Samos.
He was assessed by the Greek authorities last year as being 20 years old but maintained that he was a child.
He is appealing the decision, but was refused access to Britain by the Home Office, which denied him access to the family reunion process to join his two brothers. His brothers are both refugees in Britain, arriving in February this year.
His application was rejected because the Greek authorities determined that he was an adult, but Samir argues that he is 17.
Immigration authorities in Greece also said there was “insufficient” evidence of a close relationship between Samir and his family. His lawyers in Britain are challenging the decision on both grounds.
Samir previously told The Independent newspaper about the horrendous conditions he was facing on the fringe of his refugee camp, saying he was being bullied and abused, and enduring sexual assault from an older man.
Lawyers said he has tried to hang himself twice, and has had no access to any mental health support.
A medical report written by Prof. David Bell, one of the UK’s leading psychiatric experts in asylum and immigration, found that Samir is in a “complex chronic traumatized state.”
Bell assessed Samir via video link, writing that he suffers from a “severe depressive disorder.”
Bell concluded on July 29 that it is “clear” Samir will continue to suffer from his disorder “as long as he remains in this environment, regardless of any treatment he can receive.”
Bell added that Samir is within the worst 5 percent of the approximately 400 refugees he has assessed during his career.
He said in the report submitted to court in Britain that it is “absolutely essential” that Samir is “removed from this environment from a mental point of view as soon as possible” and “transferred to the UK to be with his brothers.”
Rebecca Chapman, Samir’s barrister, argued on Tuesday that the Home Office had failed to adequately consider his situation and vulnerabilities through its denial of his right to family life.
Representing the Home Office, lawyer Simon Murray disputed the accusations, saying the department’s decisions were made lawfully.
The asylum seeker’s UK-based solicitor, Rachel Harger of Bindmans Solicitors, said: “Samir is living out the reality of what it means to rely on so-called legal ‘safe’ pathways before entering the UK: Inordinate delays and relentlessly hostile litigation conduct from the Home Office.”
She added: “Notwithstanding the very real risk of physical harm Samir continues to face, there is likely to be a long term impact to his mental health as a consequence of living in a chronically traumatised state whilst in perpetual fear for over a year and a half. This cannot be considered a ‘safe’ route for Samir.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Protecting vulnerable children is an absolute priority for the government and in 2019, the UK received more asylum claims from unaccompanied children than any other European country, including Greece.
“As part of our New Plan for Immigration to fix the UK’s broken asylum system, we will continue to welcome people through safe and legal routes and prioritise those most in need.”